Potty Training! How to potty train. When to potty train. Why a potty…

The Sleep Fairy Guide to Potty Training (Toilet Training)

There is no correct time to start toilet/potty training, but most children will be between 2 and 3 years old when they make their first attempts. Of course, some will start earlier, and some won’t be ready until later. If you decide to start early (before two and a half), it is probably easier to use potties rather than going straight to the toilet.

There are several things that need to be developed for a child to be able to use the toilet. They need to be aware that they do wees and poos, they need to be able to hold them (briefly) once they know they need to go, they need to understand that the potty (or toilet) is the place to do their wees and poos, and they need to be able to pull down their pants!

But how do you know when your child has developed any of these skills and is ready, what do you need, and what do you do?

Is Your Child Ready?

The obvious signs are when your child tells you that they are “going”, or even if they have just been, but there are plenty of other signs to look out for too:

  • Watching themselves wee when they are in the bath and taking an interest in what they are doing.
  • Asking you to change their nappy when they are dirty or wet.
  • Just feeling that your child is ready and able to communicate enough with you.
  • When they are regularly taking their nappy off.
  • When they can pull down their trousers, leggings, pants or pull-ups.

If you have started training but then feel that your child isn’t quite ready (or you’re not quite ready), it is fine to stop and go back to nappies again for a few weeks or months. You have to be committed, patient and consistent!

Cloth nappies seem to make it an easier process as they don’t wick the wee away from the skin and children feel wet when they have done a wee, which helps their awareness of what they are doing. If you’re not already using cloth nappies, it’s probably not worth investing in a full set of cloth nappies just before you start potty training, but if you can get hold of a dozen or so second hand ones, they are great to use when you go out, instead of putting disposables back on.

What do you need?

You can buy potties that play a tune when your child does a wee in it. You can buy ones that have an iPad holder (great if you want to encourage your child to sit on the throne long enough to produce piles!) and potties that are shaped like thrones or teddy bears! Do these help with potty training? I honestly couldn’t say – we bought our potties from the pound shop and they are plain blue simple potties! I usually suggest having several (cheap) potties dotted around the house so that your little one can always get to one quickly when the urge arises. A portable potty is also essential so that you can still leave the house!

Toilet seat toppers and steps are also helpful so that your toddler can go on the toilet if they are near it when they need to go.

Flushable wet wipes are useful because wiping a little bottom when the bum cheeks are squeezed together is really difficult with normal dry loo roll and you MUST NOT FLUSH REGULAR BABY WIPES!

Training pants are great as they usually have a waterproof lining and a couple of extra layers of cloth so that they feel like pants but are a little more absorbent than normal pants when you have a little accident, but they are quite expensive, costing £5-9 a pair.

Shopping List:-

  1. 4-6 cheap potties
  2. Flushable wipes
  3. Toilet seat
  4. Step
  5. Training pants – 4-6 pairs
  6. Pants – 10-20 pairs
  7. One portable potty
  8. Chocolate rewards!!!
How to Potty Train

For a child to understand what they need to do, it helps if they can see what they need to do, so don’t be shy – let your child into the bathroom when you use the loo and talk about what you’re doing in a positive way! Celebrate the poo!

Try catching a wee in a potty or cup when your little one wees in the bath, and then telling them how clever they are. Once you a have done this a few times, you can try putting them on a potty or toilet just before you put them in the bath. By doing these simple things, you are introducing your child to the idea that wees and poos can be done in a potty or toilet. The next step is to spread your potties around the house and ditch nappies while you’re at home. Let your child run naked and free around the house!!! It makes getting on the potty a lot easier, and cleaning up quicker too!

Explain to your toddler that if he/she does a wee or poo on the potty or toilet, they can have a little bit of chocolate. For the first few days, make sure that every time they get something in the potty, they get rewarded, but just brush over any misses and don’t make a fuss of them. This gives them a positive connection to the potty.

When you feel that your child has made the connection between potty and “going”, you can try taking them out in a pair of pants or training pants. Make sure you take a portable potty so that you have something to hand when they suddenly need to go, and several changes of pants and bottoms as it is easy to forget you need to go when you’re a toddler and having lots of fun!

Try not to stress and fret as this will rub off on your child and they will attach negative emotions to going to the toilet and this can make the process more difficult. Try not to have a deadline in your head, as this will put you under pressure and your child may pick up on this too. Don’t get cross when your child has accidents (or on purposes) on the floor, just clean up and get on with your day as you don’t want to give negative attention to this.

If you find that your child is wetting or dirtying several pairs of pants every day, go back to nappies when you are out and try again a week or so later. Follow your child’s lead – if they aren’t ready, you can’t force them to “get it”, by asking them if they want to go every 5 minutes, you won’t be teaching them to use the potty, you will just be annoying them and encouraging backlash and tantrums. Of course, it is fine to ask them if they need to go if they are pulling at the front of their trousers, doing the weewee dance or if they haven’t been for half an hour or so.

The Process:

  1. Catch some wees in the bath
  2. Sit on the loo before bathtime
  3. Put a potty in every room and let your child be naked but keep nappies on when out
  4. Try training pants when going out. Don’t forget the portable potty
  5. Try normal pants at home
  6. Pants all day!

This process could take a week or 2 months. It may take longer if you start when your child is younger (we started at 22 months and have been taking easy for 4 months, and it has been interesting to see our toddler moving through each of the developmental steps). Remember, it’s not a competition, but most healthy children are ready between 2 and 3 years old so really should be done before they start school.

Back to School Survival Guide

For some parents, the end of the summer holidays comes as a welcome relief after 6-9 weeks without any regular routine. Even though getting out of the house in time for the school run is a struggle, it can feel easier than the seemingly endless weeks of trying to entertain lively children without the need to remortgage the house/rehome the kids!

Other parents will be filled with dread as the beginning of term looms closer, as getting their children up, dressed and out the house without all hell breaking loose seems virtually impossible. And if you have one child at school and another at home, figuring out how to fit naps and feeding round school runs is another daunting prospect. So here are some tips to help you survive the massive change in routine: Read More

Surviving Teething Without Sleep Regression

One of the biggest worries for parents with young babies is how to protect their baby’s sleep when teething strikes. Teething is one of the most testing times during your baby’s first few years, and it can be totally unpredictable, making it tricky to prepare for.

Many parents think that their babies start teething when they are around 12 weeks, when they start to display two of the most common signs of teething – dribbling and chewing/sucking on anything they can pull into their mouths. Some babies will be teething at this point, and will go on to cut their first tooth within a few weeks… However, most first teeth don’t appear until babies are 5 to 8 months and some babies are still all gums at a year! Those signs that appear at 12 weeks are simply the saliva glands kicking in and producing lots more saliva, in preparation for teething as well as weaning. The chewing and sucking of all things in reach is just a little milestone in their development.

So how can you tell if the dribbling and chewing are the start of teething or just development?

  • Are they accompanied by red cheeks?
  • Has your baby become more unsettled than usual? Crying for no apparent reason? Wanting to be held more than usual but still not settling in your arms?
  • Has the smell of your baby’s poo become particularly vile?
  • Do they suddenly have nappy rash?
  • If your baby is on solid food, have they gone off some or most food?
  • If you’re breastfeeding, has your baby started biting you while feeding? Or chewing on the bottle while bottle-feeding?

If the answer is “yes” to some or all of these questions, you baby is probably teething.

There doesn’t seem to be a formula to work out when you will be troubled by the wretched things, but there are a few things that you can do to avoid feeling that your little one is living on a diet of Calpol and Neurofen, and to avoid having your precious sleep totally destroyed!!!

  1. Your instinct may be to cuddle away the pain and let your baby sleep on you or in your bed, but this will have a negative impact on sleep. Instead, give extra cuddles, but use pain killers and homeopathic remedies as well. The cuddles will help your baby deal with the pain while the medication kicks in, and then your baby should be able to sleep for a few hours. Try to get on top of the teething pain before you put your baby to bed so that you can at least have your evening.
  2. Don’t jump up the second your baby makes a noise in the night expecting every cry to turn into hours of howling. Teething often causes babies to be unsettled but they can still resettle if you give them a few minutes.
  3. If your baby has become fussy with feeding, be flexible with their routine, but don’t give up on it completely – without a routine, you won’t know if your baby is in pain, hungry, thirsty or tired. But if your baby isn’t taking as much milk or food at their regular times, you can always add top-ups to ensure they don’t get too hungry.
  4. Don’t give up on sleep training if you’re in the middle of it. You can carry on as long as you don’t leave your baby in pain! And if you do have a few bad nights, just go back a step or two in any training that you’re doing and you should be able to get back on track.

When your baby is teething, it is worth getting out the camomile teething granules and teething gel. Apply as per the instructions on their packets and see if they help. If they don’t, you can step it up to the Calpol and/or Neurofen. This should help to relieve the pain, however they won’t make your baby sleep unless they are tired because they are pain-killers, NOT a sedatives!

Most importantly, if sleep regresses, it can be always be fixed. It may fix itself or you may need to be proactive and help your baby back into good habits.

How A Single Parent Can Develop A Sleep Routine

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Having been a single parent for several years myself, when I was approached by Daniel Sherwin, author of DadSolo.com, to write a guest blog about single parents and sleep, I jumped at the idea. As many single parents know, their little ones’ sleep can be even more of an emotional battle once they are going it alone, and here, Daniel helps us understand why, and what can be done to help.

How a Single Parent Can Develop a Sleep Routine

Sleep plays a critical role in your child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development. It’s also important for good health. But research shows that children living in single-parent homes see a significant decrease in healthy sleep patterns, and a greater variability of routine bedtimes leaving them more tired than their 2-parent home peers.

There are several things that can contribute to irregular sleep in a single parent home. For one, children are more likely to misbehave with the parent that is in the day-to-day disciplinarian role. This role also leads parents to feel guilty because they are often the “bad guy” and this can lead to extended bedtimes, more leniency about middle of the night visits, and other habits that make for poor sleep hygiene.

Similarly, lonely single parents can end up more attached to their children. Looking for friendship and support which blurs the lines of parent when it comes to bedtime rituals.

Whatever the roadblock is, it’s important to remember the importance of good sleep for your child so you can get them back into a healthy routine.

Create A Healthy Sleep Routine

  • Set a bedtime-Learn the recommended sleep times per age, and set the appropriate bedtime for your child based on when their wake-up time is. Stick to the same bedtime and wake-up time on the weekends so that your child maintains a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
  • Add a “Relaxation Hour”-Make the hour before bedtime a special “relaxation hour.” Use this time to unwind with no television, computers or other electronic devices. Use ambient light versus powerful overhead lights to add to the calming effect. Also, take this hour to focus on techniques that will help your child relax, such as a bath or bedtime reading.
  • Watch your food and drink-Meals and caffeine should be avoided several hours before bedtime. Chose a light, healthy bedtime snack instead.
  • Avoid late night visits-If your child is visiting in the middle of the night, it’s important to establish clear rules for immediately returning to bed. As tempting as it is to be the “good parent” in these moments, you’ll be creating a poor habit by doing so.

Create A Stress-Free Home Environment

  • Add fitness-Make time each day for fitness, especially activities down outdoors. Physical fitness is directly correlated to better sleeping habits.
  • Keep your cool-Your child can sense when you’re anxious and stressed, so it’s important to let them see you handling life matters in calm way. This will also model similar behavior for them as they grow; teaching them valuable coping skills.
  • Don’t overschedule-Children who have too many activities often feel too much pressure and anxiety because they’re exhausted and experiencing no necessary downtime.
  • Focus on the positive-Constant criticizing and negativity can make your child anxious. Instead, focus on the great things they are doing, particularly at bedtime.
  • Keep communication lines open-Make sure your child knows that they can talk to you about their thoughts and feelings. Strong communication lines promote security as children feel more loved and cared for, allowing them to relax and sleep easier.

Create A Healthy Sleeping Quarters

  • Color-Make sure the room is painted a color that is conducive for good sleep.
  • Alarm clocks-Make sure the numbers aren’t too bright. Light can cause nighttime disturbance.
  • Noise machine-Consider having an ambient noise machine. Small noises can affect some sleepers, but adding white noise can reduce mid-night waking.
  • Cell phones-Phones should not be kept in your children’s bedroom.
  • Window coverings-Make sure that the window has a blind or a curtain that can block light.
  • Pillow-Help your child pick a pillow that is comfortable for them.
  • Blanket-Choose a blanket together that is the perfect weight and texture.
  • Room temperature-Make sure your child’s bedroom is not too warm or cool. In general, the recommended sleeping temperature is 60 to 67 degrees.

Remember, good sleep is critical for your child’s overall development and their health. But bedtime can be just as important for you, as a single parent. Make your children’s bedtime, your coveted “me time,” by enjoying a soothing bath, a glass of wine, or a good book. You’ll find a little quality self-care time will also make you a better parent.

How to Survive the Clocks Going Back and Stop Early Rising

Do you have an early-riser? Does your child wake you at 5.30AM or earlier? Do you feel that you have tried everything to get your baby or toddler sleeping later in the mornings? Or are you just scared that when the clocks go back, your child is going to start waking up too early?
Well, here is something that is going to get your little one sleeping later. This is how to stop early-rising. This is how to reset the body-clock….

Around this time of year, I get an influx of emails and calls from parents who have early-risers, and are scared that the clocks going back is going to make their mornings even worse. Thankfully, I have devised a method to reset body-clocks that usually fixes this problem in 3 days. Read More