Potty Training: A guest post by Suzy at We Made a wish…


The past two weeks have been spent up to my ears in wee and poo as I attempt to potty train, Max. 

Potty training, even the phrase makes me think of training a dog, except I highly doubt a dog would allow you to pick him up and sit him on the potty, though I believe they probably would track poo through the living room (which the toddler did).

I went looking for some advice from other mums in the same boat and Suzy at We made a wish answered my call.

I love this post, not only is it informative but I found it also very realistic, a must read for anyone potty training their toddler:



Potty training is one of those things where the theory is often very, very different from reality. You can try every trick in the book to get your child to use the potty or toilet, but if they’re not ready, they won’t do it. All children are different and learn in different ways. Some children train in a few days. Some take months.

We started off on the potty training road with lots of optimism. We’d had a potty since our daughter was about 18 months. She was quite happy to sit on it with her nappy on. Like most mums, I rarely get to go to the loo on my own so she’s usually with me and often watches with great interest as I do a wee. I’ve even got reward stickers stuck to the loo for going!

At about 2 and a half, she started to tell us when she’d done a wee and poo so we thought she was getting ready to start potty training. We bought a Peppa Pig toilet seat, stocked up on princess reward stickers, and bought her Princess Polly Potty book which she loved. She seemed to understand the book and talked about Princess Polly weeing in her potty all the time. And of course, we bought her Frozen and princess knickers.

So, when we decided to start potty training, I was quietly confident that we would have it sorted in a short space of time. How wrong was I?

Our first two attempts at potty training were both abandoned after 3 or 4 days. We tried the first time when she was about 2 and a half, the second one was a few weeks before her third birthday. Both times she started to hold on to her wee for hours on end and then her poo too. She became very upset and agitated and it seemed like she had forgotten how to wee. It seemed like she wasn’t quite ready so we went back to pull ups.

Nursery was brilliant. Her key worker thought that moving up to the big class once she turned 3 would help when she saw that most of the other kids were in knickers, not nappies. They started taking her to the loo when the other kids went and she had started to do a wee on the loo. So, a couple of months after her 3rd birthday, we decided it was time to try again.

Potty training is going to be a breeze, I thought. The nursery has done all the hard work. All we needed to do was carry on what they were doing…..

There were a few accidents on the first day which we thought was to be expected. What we didn’t expect was our daughter to refuse to sit on the potty or toilet again. We thought as she’d been sitting on the toilet at nursery, it wouldn’t be an issue.

A hasty purchase of a training seat and steps combo followed and we felt sure that would do the trick. We muddled through until nursery again on Tuesday. On her first day back at nursery, she only had 2 accidents and they said she had done wees on the loo.

The next few days followed a similar pattern, lots of wees on the loo at nursery but none at home. We’d put a pull-up on when she said she needed a poo as we didn’t want the complication of her being constipated again. That worked and she did a poo and was then happy to go back into knickers.

We then had about 3 weeks of complete hell. She was completely dry at nursery but refusing to sit on the loo or potty to do a wee at home. She’d hold on to her wee for literally hours and then wee wherever she was when her bladder couldn’t hold anymore. She was extremely distressed and again it was as if she had forgotten how to wee.

Nothing we tried seemed to help her and we felt complete and utter failures as parents. We were worried sick that she was damaging herself by holding on to her wee for so long but felt utterly powerless to do anything about it. Even when we put a pull up on her, she still held on to it for hours.

We sought advice from both our health visitor and the GP. GP said in the short term, she wouldn’t be causing herself any damage by holding on to her wee because her bladder only holds so much and when it’s full, there’s only one way out. The health visitor started a continence assessment to check whether there was a physical reason for her problems.

The first 2 days of completing the drink and wee diary for the assessment, 1 day at nursery, 1 at home, convinced me it wasn’t something physical. She weed regularly on the toilet at the nursery. The problem was something going on in her head. It seemed that it just hadn’t clicked yet that our loo did the same thing as the one at nursery, it’s just bigger.

Everything changed one Friday morning after another 3 dry days at nursery. Our daughter got up and said she wanted to do a wee. She went into the bathroom, let me put her seat on, climbed onto the loo and did a wee. I actually thought I was going to burst with pride. Her little face was a picture.

That was about 4 months ago and she’s been dry ever since. She completely missed out the potty and went straight to the loo. I can’t begin to tell you the relief we all felt when whatever it was in her mind clicked. We thought once she got it, she would have it sussed quite quickly. It was still a surprise just how quickly she was dry after that first wee on the loo at home.

Looking back, I should have been more alert to how our daughter learns new things. Rather than jumping straight in and trying things when she’s not ready, she waits until she’s totally got her head round it then doesn’t look back. She was almost ready to crawl for quite a few weeks. Then one day she did it and was speed crawling almost straight away.

It was a similar pattern with walking. She took her time and waited until she was completely confident. Once she was, she was away and was walking, running and jumping pretty much the first week.

All kids develop differently

I did get caught up in worrying she was very late to still be in nappies at 3 and a bit. One comment from someone at work asking me if I was stupid for not having our daughter potty trained when she was 2, will live with me forever. The simple answer is, every single child is different. Yes, broadly speaking they will develop at about the same rate and do certain things at about a certain age. But if they don’t, it’s not the end of the world.

When she’s earned her first million and bought us the Huf Haus we’ve always dreamed of, we won’t be thinking, “if only she had potty trained at 2”. In the grand scheme of things, doing things a bit later really doesn’t matter. It won’t affect her future that she was 3 and a bit when she sussed potty training. Similarly, it doesn’t mean that a child who is potty trained at under 2 will be more successful in life.

There wasn’t a secret formula to her success. She just did it when she’s worked it out for herself. I think because our loo wasn’t exactly the same as the one at nursery, for a while she didn’t think they did the same thing so didn’t know where to do a wee at home. Once the penny dropped that our loo was the same as nursery’s, it was just bigger, there was no looking back.


She struggled a little bit with poos for a few days after she had wees sorted, but we really weren’t worried about that. A friend recommended downloading the Poo goes home to Pooland (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/poo-goes-home-to-pooland/id987924591?mt=8) app and she totally got it. All she needed was a bit of time to build her confidence to do a poo in the loo. I can highly recommend watching the Pooland app if you need cheering up. It’s hilarious!

On the outside, I think we did quite a good job of staying calm. We tried to focus as much as possible on praising the smallest success even though we just wanted to scream a lot of the time. Screaming into a glass of wine (or 2) when she was in bed helped.

When we were having problems, we tried a lot of different advice from people. I think in some way, all of the things we tried did help little miss work things out for herself. Here are some of the things we tried, in no particular order.

1. Putting all changing things into the bathroom.
2. Wine.
3. Taking her to the toilet with us when we went.
4. A fun potty training book which is interactive like Princess Polly’s Potty
5. Rewards. It doesn’t work for all kids but it worked a treat for little miss when she was nearly there.
6. Sticker chart. Little miss even put stickers on the loo for us when we did a wee! Still, makes me chuckle when she says clever girl to daddy.
7. Wine.
8. Toilet training steps and seat. We have a Keter one which she still uses.
9. A family toilet seat. We have this one in the downstairs loo. It helps remove the fear of falling into the loo but isn’t as bulky as a training seat.
10. Lots of liquid.
11. Keep calm, make it fun and praise as much as possible.
12. A good amount of fibre to make sure they don’t get constipated. The doctor prescribed medication to make her stools looser but in the end, we decided not to use it. We upped her fruit and veg a bit instead and she was fine.
13. Using pull up nappies which they can get on and off themselves.
14. Bottle of bubbles to use when they sit on the potty. The action of blowing not only helps them relax, but pushes down on the bladder which helps them wee.
15. Wine.

The most important piece of advice really is don’t panic.

Try to keep calm, keep it fun and it will happen.

But only when they’re ready.


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