Toilet learning at 17 months

It’s been a month now since we ditched Frida’s nappies, a good time to take stock about what has worked well for us during her toilet learning.

When Frida was ten months we tentatively took our first steps along our toilet learning journey. You can read more about it here. We basically just introduced a potty, and encouraged her to sit on it semi-regularly, whilst still using cloth nappies the rest of the time. Amazingly, she really took to this, and with no pressure or stress from us she very quickly stopped pooing in her nappies. Within a few weeks she was doing almost every poo on her potty, and by 12 months she was basically potty trained for poos (I can pretty much count on one hand the number of nappy poos since then).

For a long time we didn’t change anything. She was still wearing cloth nappies, and we kept offering the potty fairly regularly, but with no firm goal in mind other than following her lead. Gradually she started going for longer and longer without wetting her nappy, using the potty when available instead.

Using the Potette out and about

 When she was 16 months we went on holiday for two weeks, and instead of bringing a regular potty, we just used a Potette seat (buy one! They are amazing!) over “big” toilets. Again, she adapted to this really quickly. We offered her the loo more regularly, and she went for longer and longer without wetting her nappy, often only wetting one a day. She was also reliably dry during naps and nighttime (something which seems more down to luck than parenting as this seems to be in part regulated by hormones). Her language and comprehension is very good, and she was starting to tell us – sometimes – when she needed to use the loo before the event. So we thought this was as good a time as any to ditch the nappies!

As soon as we got back from holiday, and had gotten over the jet lag, we took the plunge. We didn’t do anything particularly different, we just took away the nappies, explaining that we do our wees in the loo (we stressed wees as poos have never been an issue). We are still taking her every 30-60 minutes, as well as key times such as when coming home, after waking up, and before going to bed, but she is also getting better at telling us “need loo / poo / wee”.

Seeing as she took to using the big toilet so well on holiday, we continued using the Potette at home over the big toilet rather than using the potty. The advantage of this is that we take the same seat out with us, so she has some familiarity even in strange settings. She has a step stool so that she can get up and down independently.

At home she is often commando (less laundry!) but when we’re out we’re still using reusable training pants, as they make less of a puddle in case of an accident. In the next couple of months we will progress her to “proper” knickers.

I’m not going to lie to you – the first few days there were quite a lot of accidents. But she quickly got the hang of it, and will happily tell you that we do “wees in the loo!”  We probably have an accident every couple of days at the moment which I am quite content with (and it’s still less washing than cloth nappies!). If she has an accident she will tell us.  Overall it feels like this has been a gentle and stress-free approach to toilet learning – although doing journeys with her still feel a bit tense, and the first week or two I felt a bit anxious about going too far from home!

She still needs help getting undressed and dressed independently, but I didn’t want that to put us off progressing her with her toilet learning when she is obviously in a very sensitive period for it.  For me, this journey has really felt good, as we have followed her cues and not turned it into a hugely stressful “training” exercise.

I’m very aware that the journey might not be so easy with any future children we may have, as this has been something which Frida has taken to quite naturally. That said, I do personally feel that we don’t enable toilet learning young enough in western cultures, and I wonder if this is one of the reasons many parents and children find it such a stressful process.

How have you done toilet learning? Would you do anything differently?

Thinking of starting toilet learning? You might want to buy:

  • A potty for indoor use
  • A step for your toilet
  • An infant seat for your toilet
  • Reusable training pants
  • A portable potty
  • Extra tights / trousers!
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6 thoughts on “Toilet learning at 17 months

  1. I am so impressed with Frida! Eva does a poo in her potty in the evenings quite reliably, tho I do think we have given her mixed messages by introducing books early on to keep her sitting. Now she looks upon potty time as ‘book time’ and often sits on it fully clothed and points to the book shelf! We have been trying the ‘big potty’ with a potette and less books more recently tho so are thinking this could be the right time to break the association.. :0/
    (For some reason my phone initially autocorrected ‘books’ to ‘baboons’ 😂)

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  2. We had a similar experience with my son. We did part time EC from early on, then around 16 months found he was dry a lot of the time, waiting to be offered the potty, so switched to pants. He was day dry almost straight away. He has been dry at night since about 20 months. I would say he wasn’t potty trained until about 20 months as for the first few months he wouldn’t reliably tell us when he needed to go, it was largely timing and us offering opportunities. I think doing it early is so much easier as they are much more keen to please you at that age!

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