Frequently Asked Questions
Short answers to your questions
Isn't it messy?
Not if you use nappies or training pants as a backup until you’re confident to move to undies. Also, if you get poo in a potty there is much less to clean (maybe a quick dab with toilet paper and just rinse the potty under a stream of water). You’d have accidents with conventional potty training anyway and at least a baby doesn’t move far. If you do choose to have naked times I suggest laminate floors, waterproof padding or outside.
Isn't it time consuming?
No more than anything else you’re doing with your baby. To offer a potty takes a similar time to changing a nappy, and you’ll likely be doing less of that in the long run this way. If your baby is wearing easy-access clothing it takes even less time, and you could choose just to do it once a day.
What if I have multiple kids?
Then there is even more of an opportunity to talk about it and for them be motivated by or learn off each other. Older siblings can help out by bringing the potty or wipes to you, or helping to cue. Siblings may enjoy being involved and helping by bringing the potty to you, helping to support the baby on the potty or helping by entertaining them while on it. They may feel proud to demonstrate for the baby.
Can you do it with twins?
To potty two babies isn’t too different than changing two nappies. Just take them one at a time to any degree that’s right for you. The key is to remember they are separate people and will go learn in their own way. Give each their own potty and take care so they don’t feel compared. By pottying at separate times they’re less likely to become confused if you are cueing one and not the other, but the in the long run they are also more likely to learn from each other which helps.
Isn't it stressful?
If you get the sense that it is stressful for you or your baby, just step back and take a break. You can’t force a baby to communicate or do anything really - and you shouldn't. Conversely, your baby might not like nappies and finds those stressful. So just go with what fits for you both.
What if both parents are working?
For parents who are routinely separated from their babies it’s a great way to connect with them when they are together. You could apply a more routine based approach to practice toileting in some of the time you are together (e.g. when waking in the morning, upon leaving and arriving home, or just during nappy changes in the evenings or weekends. Alternatively, you could encourage their other caregiver(s) to learn with them.
Can we learn while on holiday?
A holiday may give you more bonding time to learn toileting, or it may throw you out of sync. Jetlag can be confusing to the body and it may just mean a few more misses or backing off for a few days. Feel free to give it a go but stop if you find its just not a good time.
What if my baby was born premature?
The rule of thumb would be not to start until the baby is home from the hospital or past their adjusted due date and you get the impression the time is right for you and your baby.
Does it work for an older child?
How do I get my daycare on board?
What if I can't do it full-time?
No one does it full-time. Every parent gets to choose when they start, continue and stop, whether they want to do it once a day, only in the day or night, skip a day/week completely, or whatever. Babies are very forgiving and will adapt to whatever you make 'their normal'.
Isn't doing it part-time confusing for my baby?
Learning something new is not all or nothing. It's a gradual process to do something more and more. Many babies easily swap between lots of things e.g. breast and bottle, bed and cot, etc. nappy and potty is no different.
What if we're having lots of 'misses'?
What if I feel overwhelmed or stressed?
Just take a break. There are plenty of times to practice. This is not something you have to do right now or even all the time. Just remember it can be done very part-time or with breaks. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself – there are situations where it might just be easier to put a nappy on and get on with life. Figure out which amount is right for you. You can always put your baby into nappies when you know life will be more busy, you can anticipate them and plan for it.
Isn't it a drawn out way to toilet train?
The initial learning period doesn’t last long and then you can practice as much or as little as you like, but with the choice to reduce nappy use on any given day if you want to. These days nappy use is drawn out to several years and this is one way you can reduce the chance of that.
What if we are always out and about?
Do it if you want to. You could just use nappies when out and about, or take a travel potty, or get practiced at using other people’s toilets (using an in arm hold can be useful to practice for this to avoid having to sit on the seat even later on). Babies can learn to swap between a nappy, a potty and a toilet very easily.
Won't my baby think everywhere is their bathroom?
This is no different to eating/nursing in lots of places but eventually they learn that the kitchen is the best place to go, and by imitation of adults this comes quickly.
What if my child has health issues or a disability?
Milestones may be different to the average child which can be confusing and could make any toilet training hard to contemplate. You have very likely spent a lot of time observing your child and become very attuned to their needs in general. They may communicate differently and a different approach is needed for many things anyway. Practicing toilet learning at a young age could be very beneficial as it draws on instincts to help babies learn what parts of their bodies they can control and to use body language or signals to say when they need to go.