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22nd Sep 2023

5 things nobody told me about potty training

Laura Cunningham

Let’s talk about poo, shall we?

So I recently toilet-trained my three-year-old. Actually, I’m not sure if I should be using the past tense here, as the process is ongoing. He’s playing a blinder, all things considered, but I wish someone had told me these titbits before we began.

1. No nappies is WAY more work  

The prospect of leaving poonamis behind and finally being free of those nappies that are so full of wee you could knock someone out with one is fab – if only it was that simple. Your relationship with poop and pee doesn’t suddenly end when the nappies leave, of course. Instead, you become more actively involved in each and every bowel movement. Yay!

Bathroom trips outnumber the old nappy changes by ten to one in our house some days. You begin to dread the phrase “mammy, I need to do a wee-wee” because – as proud of them as you are for doing exactly what you taught them to do – it means you’re off to the bathroom. Again. I’m a few months in and I still feel like I picked myself up a little part-time job for the summer as a bathroom assistant.

And of course, it’ll always happen when you have arms full of laundry or you just sat down. Or worse, approximately two minutes after you’ve driven away from your house, following a pre-journey wee and multiple questions about whether they had “any more wee-wees”. A wet nappy can wait a minute until you take that boiling pasta off the hob, or get to your destination in the car. A child who is about to pee waits for no man. Or pasta.

I already felt like I never sat down. But at this stage, I’m about to list all my chairs on Done Deal and give up on the dream completely. 

Dramatic? Me? How dare you.

2. Day ready – vs – night ready 

I haven’t night-trained my son yet. Many people successfully tackle day and night all in one go and you might too, but I knew my kid wasn’t ready. Not to put too fine a point on it, but his nighttime pull-up is still regularly bulbous with wee in the morning. If he’s still going that much at night without waking, the advice I got was that he’s probably not physically ready to be night-trained.

It was music to my ears to be honest, because I don’t fancy getting up at night time, every time – see my last point. He can wear a nappy in bed until he’s 15 for all I care. 

3. Beware the false start

The morning we started training, I was immediately lulled into a false sense of security. He excitedly peed in the potty every time – I didn’t even have to ask. At one stage I turned away for a moment and turned back to his announcement that he’d pooped in the potty. And indeed he had.

This is easy, I thought.

And look, it was. He took to it all pretty quickly. But he’s had bad weeks where I’ve felt like I was starting all over again and I’m told toilet training regression is totally normal. Only last week he looked me straight in the eye, smiling as he slowly urinated on the living room floor. And he still occasionally appears at the creche door at pick-up time wearing different bottoms to the ones I dressed him in.

I’m not stressing about it. As they say, ‘nobody goes to college in nappies’. We’ll get there.

4. Pee absolutely REEKS 

I’m sorry this is so gross and it’s hardly brand new information but jayzus, it really does pong. Possibly worse than poo? For the first couple of training days, I made the grave mistake of tossing post-accident pants and bottoms into the laundry basket as normal. Big mistake. Huge. 

Oh god, the smell. It seeps into your brain. Now it’s straight into a sealed (ideally biodegradable) nappy bag with anything wet unless I’m in a position to wash them immediately. You’ve been warned.

5. Puppy pads are your friend

Loads of people gave me this advice, but it’s a good ‘un so I’m passing it on. Those absorbent sheets you can buy for doggy accidents are your only man for covering your kid’s car seat when they’re training. For the first few weeks, being out and about is the most challenging part, and car seats are not as easy to clean as tracksuit bottoms. You’ll get them cheaply in Dealz amongst other places. 

Good luck!