Ask The Clan – words & wisdom from the Curve community

Welcome to our second Ask The Clan feature, where we tap into our readers’ considerable knowledge and experience by inviting them to both ask and answer each other’s own family-related questions, so we can all make life a lot easier for each other! Curve readers are free to suggest questions / topics at any time (we’ll regularly put a call out on the Facebook page, but feel free to message us whenever), and each time we’ll pick one and put it to the whole readership who can then chip in with their wonderful advice 🙂

Last time was our reader Zoe’s question about holidaying with kids, and this time it’s about the dreaded (or desperately hoping not-so-dreaded) POTTY TRAINING! Words that strike the fear into the hearts of many a parent, myself included, so I thought I’d ask you lovely lot to help me tackle it!

“Looming on the not-so-distant horizon is the wonderful task of getting Huey out of nappies… it’s years since I tackled this with Joe and have forgotten almost everything – please help! Any top tips or resources? Thank you!” (Anna)

Well, you guys are amazing! What a brilliant range of advice you’ve given, thank you so much! We have everything from praise to Elimination Communication to reward charts to book recommendations to website resources to bribery to waiting to association cues to withholding to fobbing it off on the grandparents (????) to potty training twins and a whole lot more!

“Tons and tons and tons of praise! And if you can time it with warm weather and being in the garden you are on to a winner… Mine were both potty trained by 19 months and I found putting them on the potty every 20-30 mins or so at the beginning and giving them lots to drink worked… I didn’t bother with reward charts or any of that… I also got the most standard potties ever, none of the singing ones etc. Praise praise clapping and praise.. literally you’re not doing it right unless you sound like a maniac once they pee in the right place…” (Karen)

“I’m about to do this with Cece and I’ll attempt to do the same as I did with Xavi – nappies go completely (apart from at night), no pull ups, just go for it. Carry on as normal but take potty (hideous taking it everywhere but essential) and change of clothes. If they’re ready it should only take a few days – I hope!” (Laura)

“I used Potty Training for Boys by Caroline Fertleman & Simon Cave (there is a girls version too). It’s easy and quick to read and the approach really worked for my little boy. My personal advice would be not to rush it, I waited until Casper was totally ready (he was 2 years and 8 months) and he seemed to get the hang of things quite quickly. Good luck!” (Michelle)

“Carry a pair of scissors and spare pants in your bag. If they crap themselves at least you’ll be able to cut the pants/knicks off – it is NOT nice trying to roll them down (Laura)

“Have you heard of elimination communication (EC)? I discovered this when my daughter was 5 months old and she didn’t ever poo in a nappy again! There is info on a website called Born Ready. Also a book called Nappy Free Baby by Amber Hatch. I’m not sure what is possible in relation to EC with an older child. With babies you just learn to read the signs they need to go. With mine she used to writhe and hit her belly when she needed a poo and was never happy doing it in her nappy. When I plonked her on a potty at 5 months she was delighted! Catching wees was more just a timing thing for us. I used cloth nappies though so never did the totally nappy free thing! When you never have to clean up poo, cloth really makes a lot of sense! Got rid of the daytime nappies at about 18-20 months when there started to be much longer between wees. I think this is about the age that they physically can hold wees. It’s also about the age people use to potty train in the past apparently. The whole thing with EC is that it isn’t coercive and is supposed to be a two-way communication thing so I guess that aspect is relevant to an older child. It’s just that toddlers are contrary so I can imagine it can be tricky! I guess trying to give them the control/power to some extent. I think the Born Ready website does have a video for starting at 18 months plus! On the other hand my sister trained my niece in 2 days with a simple chocolate button bribery system. Seems equally as effective! Generally seems that girls are easier to train than boys. They’re just naturally cleaner or something!!” (Zoe)

“Olly asked me if he could stop wearing nappies, rather than me decide it was the right time. I was really worried at the time as I had a lot going on, but he got it straight away. Looking back I think he knew he was ready (hence why he asked). From speaking with other friends I think if they’re ready they will get it pretty quickly, so if they don’t, just stop and try again in a couple of months.” (Michelle)

“Now the boys are mobile we sit them on the potty as soon as we notice their little stare in to the distance ‘poo grunts’ happening. We don’t whip their nappies off just yet… It’s just the initial association of pooing and sitting on potties… Eventually they’ll start sitting on the potty themselves when they need to poo and then we can start the nappy off pooing in the actual potty stage. We also use a verbal cue every time ‘poo poo time’. I remember from first time around we concentrated on poo first.” (Caroline)

“Wait until they can say they need to go and can physically get their knick knocks off to go! Nothing worse for them to wet/soil because they can’t get their trousers or pants down because of buttons and belts.” (Sarah)

“I initially set the date for potty training as I was due another baby and did not want lots of nappies! I set aside 2 weeks off work, the first day was great, however after that was awful! A week in and it was getting worse! I given advice such as, ‘Carry on, you’ve started now so can’t stop!’ After so much stress, poo and wee I decided that she was not ready!! I felt silly and had to go buy more nappies and wipes! HOWEVER this was the best thing, not sure if our failed attempt gave her food for thought but a couple of weeks later when I wasn’t off work and had hardly any time my daughter approached me about it and was trained in a day!! Message here is that if they’re not ready you can’t force them!!” (Sally)

“Best piece of advice for me was to wait until our lad (then 2.5) was ready. Nine x wet pants/sofa/carpet in 50 mins = not ready. Then, we bribed him – about six months later – with marbles. Marble in a jar each time he managed a potty/loo visit: 10 marbles = 1 ice lolly.” (Dom)

“Go to Seville for the weekend with your spouse – leave kid at home with grandparents – come back and voila!” (Jordanna) ????

“Not massively insightful but my advice is to just go for it. Once you decide to do it, I’d say don’t put a nappy back on until bedtime… Not even on trips out. Have a huge stack of spare trousers (forget the pants) and expect at least 15 changes for the first few days. I didn’t do the periodic placing on the toilet – that didn’t work for us as H found it boring and distressing waiting for the wee. This hardcore approach seemed to work for us but only because H got the hang of it within a week or so. I expect that I wouldn’t have handled it on a long term basis and may have considered other approaches. Of course, lots of positive messaging and rewarding for her efforts. Is it all flooding back now?…. Good luck x” (Marisa)

“I brought the potty out at 18 months! It was just a toy…..they sat on it and put it on their heads, I’d always say it was a potty….I’d tell them what they had done in their nappies too! Once their wees became a good few hours between I started to tell them they wee on the potty and poop in the potty. At about 23 months we started having nappy free hours. There were a few accidents but they would look for the potty. The day after they turned two nappies came off and there were no accidents!” (Natalie)

“This was quite literally one of the toughest things for me ever. Only because of the withholding issues we had, which I found has been totally ignored everywhere. I got advice from every tom dick and harry when they saw nappies on my little boy at 3, but kiddies are so so different with so many psychological issues attached. Potty training a little one with withholding issues is darn near impossible. They won’t poo anywhere or for anything. Literally anything. I was so desperate for my little one to poo (he went ten days) I walked him into Toys R Us and said to him, literally anything you want in this shop you can have as long as you do a poo. He looked at me and said he didn’t need anymore toys and we went home. Potty training starts this issue for some little ones, mines had it since 6 months. Wees fine – no problem. Poos are a different story. Withholding causes leakage. Looks like diarrhoea, it’s actually fresh poo leaking past the impacted poo. Stained pants up to 10 times a day. They don’t even know they’re doing it. Withholding is not constipation, it’s deliberate, diet generally doesn’t help (neither does good intended crappy *sorry no pun intended* advice from relatives who know nothing about it. What does help is ERIC, the children’s bowel and bladder charity. If you see signs of withholding when potty training seek their advice. Also if your little one does already withhold don’t despair about potty training, it actually allowed my little boy to see the end of his withholding. Good luck.” (Fiona)

“To wait until they are ready is my biggest piece of advice. Our little girl was 2 yrs 8 months when she chose knickers. We did it in 3 days recently & I’m sure it’s because we left it to her to choose when we started. It coincided with converting to a toddler bed too, so unsure if becoming a ‘big girl’ was the trigger. Either way we’re going good with the odd accident occasionally. Good luck!” (Sarah)

“Don’t rush it!! We started too early (2.5) as we thought we ‘saw the signs’. It ended up taking us a year…and it was really hard work. I think if we had waited until 3…3.5 it would have happened quicker. Oh and be prepared with charts, gold stars and little rewards. If it is taking longer these things come in handy. I know now with my second daughter to not rush it and that they will ‘eventually get it’ so (hopefully) it won’t be as stressful as an experience as first time round!” (Lisa)

“I’ve heard, ‘Start at 3, dry by 3’ i.e. If you start at 3 years old they’ll be dry in that year. Could take a week or 6 months. We started our eldest at 2 1/2. He’d already been sat on the potty at nursery and we had one around the house. But then we took him to choose one and pants. We just kept pants off at home (we started early summer) so by winter he was potty trained. Dry at night by 3 1/2. ???? were a real challenge if we weren’t at home. And ice cream and potty training is the devil! Ice cream + trampoline = ???? I will retell this story to him again and again. We’ll start our youngest this summer too when he’s 2 1/2. But may delay till 3. Takes bloody ages for them to get it!” (Sarah)

“We had the potty in the bathroom and asked them to try and have a wee before bed every day from about 2. Sometimes they did sometimes they didn’t. But it was good practice. We started at 3 and it took no time at all. Literally. They had no accidents until a couple of weeks later when they were bored of the idea, then there were just a few. Also before their third birthday for a few weeks I told them how exciting it was that 3 year olds don’t wear nappies so they were looking forward to it. And I think that sticking with it is good, don’t have nappies sometimes and not other times (except for nights). We got ‘special cushions’ for their car seats and buggy etc just in case (seat protectors from Boots)” (Jenny)

“Bribery! Sticker charts and malteasers worked for my twins. Also don’t try and do any toddler groups, shopping or visits until they’re confident holding it in until they can reach the nearest loo. I had to clean up a wee soaked child at the checkout in Tescos once – it was traumatising for everyone concerned. Online grocery deliveries are the way to go for a few weeks (Hermione)

And finally, making my own concerns about potty training a single child seem extraordinarily feeble in comparison, Katie wrote a brilliant post about potty training twins on her fantastic Twinsplusonemummy blog 🙂


Thank you so much to everyone who contributed, there’s so much ace advice here! If you have any other great potty training suggestions, or any other questions you’d like to ask the Curve Clan, please do pop them in the comments below!