We’re well into our potty teaching routine now after two and a half weeks. We’ve had lots of successes, but many more accidents. It’s ok. They are learning, and they are starting to catch on. This process for me is not about the quick fix. It’s a transition period that needs lots of patience and practice. Read Part 1 for more details on our approach.
Here are some tips that we’ve learned so far for early potty teaching twins. Corbin and Lynley were just over 19 months when we started, and almost 20 months now. I call this early because the average American child is trained between two and four years old. Lynley pees on the potty about 50 percent of the time and poops occasionally when we put her on it. She doesn’t tell us she has to go yet, but if I notice her tugging on her diaper and ask her if she has to go, she usually goes toward the bathroom and makes it to the potty. Corbin mostly just sits, but since Lynley is showing more signs, we tend to put our focus on her. (She likes to undress herself, diaper and all, so it’s more important for her to learn first!) This is what works for us:
- A routine. This really is the most important tip of all. As with every other developmental stage for our children, we’ve found that routines work really well. When they know what to expect and what is coming next, our children are happier. So we’ve started going directly to the potty after waking up in the morning, after morning snack, after lunch, around 4:00pm and after dinner. We also take them in between those times if they look like they are about to poop or have already pooped in their diapers. We change diapers in the bathroom and let them sit on the potty stressing that pee, pee and poop go in the potty. We also sometimes do “naked time” before dinner, where they run around without a diaper, and we watch them closely in order to get them to the potty in time. If they have an accident on the floor, they get to help clean it up with their own towel. (I let them wipe the floor in a spot that doesn’t actually have pee on it while I wipe up the actual pee!)
- Books, books and more books! Corbin and Lynley love to read, and right now they are particularly interested in object recognition books where they can identify everyday objects and practice their vocabularies. They like this book from Bright Baby and this one from Baby Einsteins. The potty books that I bought were interesting to them at first, but now not so much. It’s important to cycle through books every few days so there is something “new” for them to look at. We keep the picture book in the bathroom and a few other books for them to choose from.
- Baby dolls and stuffed animals. Lynley and Corbin like to bring their loveys to the potty with them sometimes, so we started letting the dolls use the potty too. We make a “psss” sound for the doll, and then say “Yay, Bear pee peed in the potty. Now it’s your turn.” They really like this, but at first it was hard to get them to sit down for their turn and not keep putting the doll back on the potty. Lynley even makes the sound now for her doll, and that is a step in the right direction because she is starting to understand the concept of the potty.
- Running water. Since we learned they like the “psss” sound for the dolls, we tried running the water for them to see if it would have the same effect. It seems to be working for Lynley about 50 percent of the time. She will sit down, and I’ll say, “It’s time to pee pee.” I’ll turn the faucet on, and she pees almost immediately. This could just be good timing on my part, but I like to think she is starting to associate the sounds of the bathroom with the potty. Corbin doesn’t really pee or poop on the potty at all yet. He just sits there and reads, but at least he is sitting!
- Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Hand sanitizer if they haven’t touched anything, but soap and water if they have. Disinfecting wipes come in handy for accidents on the floor. I’m not going to mop a million times a day, so I keep towels and wipes at the ready. The wipes also make cleaning the little potty buckets super easy. I just dump the contents into the “big potty,” (most of the time Corbin and Lynley help with this and wave bye-bye as we flush.) rinse out the buckets and wipe it out.
- A potty journal/log. Writing down success and accidents has helped a lot. I write down little notes about what was going on along with times in a notebook. It’s been helpful to see where the consistencies are, and for both it’s after meals, especially lunch.
|This is not a sad face! This is her trying to say pee, pee.|
Things we’ve found that don’t work for us are toys. We let them play with a couple of small toys here and there while they try to use the potty, but they really can’t handle it. They throw the toys across the room and want to go pick them up. The whole point right now is to learn to sit and wait, so books work much better. We also don’t make them sit for a certain amount of time. We strongly encourage them to sit back down when they get up a lot, but in order to keep the experience positive, sometimes we have to let them up sooner than we would like. When they get fussy, I let them roam the bathroom for a minute and try to encourage them back on the potty for a count to 25. Usually a book will do the trick, or I sit them down and give them a hug while we count. Their reward is praise and high fives. We don’t do stickers or candy, but who knows, if they are still not getting it after a few more months, we might!
If you found these tips helpful, please share this post! If you’ve already taught your toddler how to use the potty, what tips worked for you? Please share in the comments.