Prince Lionheart's Toolbox Session with Laura Woj the potty training expert.

Today’s Toolbox Series was all about potty. Okay, some exotic pet stories were discussed as well, but we digressed and will return to that in a later IG Live just for poops and giggles… Laura Woj is a highly-esteemed potty training expert who became known as such after researching anything and everything potty-related when potty training her own children, and then spending years and years helping other moms overcome their own potty training challenges. More than a decade later, she has written a book, has a line of absorbent training pants called Superundies, and continues to consult with parents who need some additional assistance and troubleshooting support. We looked at potty training as a whole as well as some new trends – elimination communication – that weren’t really a thing when Woj and I were first potty training our eldest kiddos. Some highlights of our conversation include:  

How to transfer the responsibility of Potty Training?

“Potty training is about transferring a responsibility to your child, and having your kids care for a pet is teaching them how to own up to responsibility,” says the woman who has a tortoise the size of a coffee table, a rabbit the size of a dog, two dogs, a parrot, an exotic bird I can’t even recall the name of, and let’s not forget an ordinary, run of the mill guinea pig to round out the menagerie of pets in Woj’s household.

When do you know when it is the right time to start potty training?

There are certain basic indicators you can look out for like verbal communication, the child should be mobile, etc. but there is one thing that’s even more important: that the parent is ready. Start potty training when your child and YOU are ready for the journey.

The newest trend – Potty training babies?

Potty training babies starting as young as 6 months old is called elimination communication. It starts with getting your baby on the toilet first thing in the morning after they wake up. You can just hang out there with your baby, make sure their weight is on your chest then rock side to side, sing, and wait for your little one to pee. Same procedure after nap time: spend 15-30 min with your baby in the bathroom and wait for them to pee or poo. After a couple of days, you will be able to see a pattern, certain times when your little one is ready to relieve himself/herself. Once you find that schedule, it will start to get easier and then you will get to a point where your baby will pee instantly as you put them on the toilet, because their body has adapted and is used to a certain routine now.

My child’s bladder is like a clock?

Indeed, knowing your little one’s potty interval will make potty training much easier and decrease the amount of accidents. Pay attention to find out if your little one has a 30 min bladder or maybe a 45-minute bladder. The potty interval depends on the child’s bladder size and also on their age. A three-year old will probably have a 1.5 hour or 2 hour potty interval. Once you and your child are ready to start the potty training journey, and you know their potty interval, set yourself a timer so you know when it is time to go sit on the potty.

What else do I have to take into consideration when starting potty training?

A great tip is to start closing doors. Limit the access of rooms for the little one while potty training. It makes it easier to pick up on subtle signs that they may have to use the potty and it can help save your favorite carpet. Pick one or two rooms to potty train in, get yourself 1-2 potty seats, set your timer and start the journey.

How can I keep my kids on the potty longer?

A great idea is a basket of “Potty-Only-Toys”! The more exciting the toys in the basket the more time your kid will want to spend on the potty.

Should I let my little one choose their own potty?

“Here it is important to keep in mind that you do not want your kid to choose the little cute tractor potty because it will turn into a toy. And you do not want your little one to push the potty through the entire house,” says Laura.

What incentives should I use for potty training?

Finding an incentive that works for your kid is key. It is important to differentiate between kids that are starting the potty training journey early or kids that are 3 years and older. Here is why: Potty training your little ones at a very young age will require instant incentives like candy. They learn better with an instant reward. Whereas potty training a more mature child also works with the marble jar. Your little one will get a small marble for pee and a big marble for poo and once the jar is full they get to choose a toy at the store. So make sure you choose the correct incentive according to your child’s age and maturity.

Why do kids regress?

Potty training is transferring ownership to your child. If your child regresses after a certain amount of time, it is usually not because they weren’t ready in the first place, but because it is not as exciting to use the potty as it used to be. Children are primed to learn, they love learning, that’s how their brains are wired. Every time a child learns something new they get this endorphin rush, parents are cheering when they pee or poo in the potty. Later on, when your child appears to be potty trained there are no cheering parents on the sidelines anymore. It also means that they have to get up from playing or stop watching television to use the potty, and that is the point where little ones sometimes regress. Don’t panic, it just means ownership hasn’t been fully transferred yet. The potty has to become THEIR responsibility. A possible approach to solve the issue with regressing little ones, is to have them earn their favorite things. If your kid starts wetting their pants when in the park because it is more exciting to play than to go to the bathroom, have them earn a trip to the park. If they can go a certain amount of time without accidents take them to the park or any other activity they like.

When should I stop putting diapers on little ones during the night?

“Daytime potty training is easier to control than night time potty training. Nighttime potty training is something the body has to do. Once your little one is fully daytime potty trained, you can expect nighttime potty training to be resolved about 6 months after that,” Laura says. If more than 6 months, then it usually indicates bedwetting, which is rather common amongst children.