Potty Training Your Eco-Friendly Toddler

by Guest Writer

Potty training— it’s one of those things we want to just get done, but it’s such a daunting task. My daughter turned two a couple months ago and since that time I’ve been contemplating the right time to potty train her. I’m not sure why I’m so overwhelmed by the idea. When I actually set out to potty train my son, it was not a difficult process. There was the pre-work, as I like to call it and then the actual two days where I finally had him completely potty trained.

While potty training my son, I began the process with the idea that it was a journey—I never planned for him to use the toilet overnight. As a result, I definitely prolonged the pre-potty training process. I read books that recommended placing a child-size potty in the bathroom so the child could get used to it being there. I brought my son with me every time I went to the bathroom and let him sit on his potty each time so he could get used to it. These are all things I would continue to do with my daughter.

There are some changes I plan to make. When I trained my son, I used pull-ups. I think these were a mistake—they made me lazy and they prevented my son from feeling the discomfort of wetting his pants. As soon as I got rid of the pull-ups and went straight to underwear, we were successful. I might choose some reinforced organic underpants for my daughter, like the ones from Hanna Andersson, more to minimize messes than anything else. My hope is that by using underwear that will only contain one accident, I will be more diligent about taking my daughter to the bathroom more frequently. If you don’t want to go straight to underwear, there are several companies that make cloth training pants. Tiny Birds Organics offers some cute training pants, and I like that they’re website makes it easy to determine the appropriate size for your little one.

I contemplated using a child-size potty or just using a seat that fits on the regular toilet for my daughter. As you may have guessed, I’ve decided to re-use the child-size potty we had for my son to help her get used to using the toilet. Admittedly, the toilet I have for my daughter to train on is not eco-friendly since I bought it before I was as environmentally aware as I am now. The only thing eco-friendly about it is that I’m reusing it rather than buying a new one. While it is not eco-friendly per se, our potty is versatile. The seat comes off and can be used on the adult toilet, and the lid closes on it so it can be used as a step stool. If you are looking for a nice eco-friendly children’s toilet though, I would suggest the Beco Potty, which is made from waste plant material. Once you’re done using it, the company suggests you “pop it in your garden” where it will biodegrade. Based on what I’ve seen, this is the most eco-friendly training toilet available. I did come across an interesting product called the Disposable Potty. I have mixed feelings on this one.  These biodegradable, disposable potties store small (you can carry them in your purse) and give you the option to “pop-up a toilet” when you need one for your children. While they are biodegradable, I can’t help think they are still causing unnecessary waste. I think these may be okay for long road trips when children may need to go to the bathroom between rest stops, but I can’t imagine using something like this every time I’m out with my children. It still seems wasteful.

Once you have all of the tools for successful potty training, I think the most important part comes—the right mindset. It’s important to stay calm and positive throughout the entire process. Sometimes as adults we take for granted how easy it is for us to use the toilet. For children it’s such a new process. After two or three years of just going in their pants, children are suddenly expected to become aware of how their body feels when it needs to use the bathroom. Remember, your children did not learn to walk overnight, so they should not be expected to potty train overnight.  Here’s what I would recommend for success, and this is simply based on my own experience. I am not an expert, but I have successfully potty-trained a boy before he turned 3.

1.     Bring your child to the bathroom when you go and encourage him/her to sit on their own toilet while you sit on yours.

2.     Display good habits—wash your hands with your child after each trip to the bathroom.

3.     Find a good reward system when your child is successful on the toilet—my son was happy with flushing the toilet after he went to the bathroom. He also loved it if we clapped and sang his praises.

4.     Accidents will happen. Don’t make a big deal if an accident happens. Just clean it up and go about the day’s business. Getting angry could cause your child stress and he/she may start “holding it in” which could lead to other health problems.

5.     When you’re really ready to go full-force—I would say, at least 6 months after simply bringing your child with you for each bathroom trip—pick a weekend to really focus.

6.     On your “focus weekend,” sit your child on the toilet every 30 minutes. They don’t have to stay long, just long enough to try to go to the bathroom. If you feel they are not sitting long enough, you might want to try some books. The library is a great place to find some potty books for kids—you might also ask some friends if they have books you could borrow. My son would sit for hours reading “Where’s the Poop?” over and over. My daughter prefers “Dora’s Potty Book.” 

7.     Relax! Just remember, you never see children going to kindergarten in diapers. Your child will get it and the calmer you are, the more comfortable your child will be with the whole process.

Good luck and Happy Potty Training!

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