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Gina's Top Tips - what you need for potty training

Before you begin to prepare your child for potty training make sure that you have all the right equipment. It is essential to have two potties; one for upstairs and one for downstairs as it saves having to transfer it up and down stairs. Remember that during the early stages of training it is often a case of getting the potty to the child, rather than the child to the potty.

Two potties These should be simple sturdy design with a wide brim and a splashguard at the front, and an extra wide base so the potty stays on the floor when your child stands up. Avoid fancy or complicated designs with lids at this stage. I also would suggest that it is better to choose two potties of the same design and colour. I have been caught out on occasions when a toddler refuses to do a pee in the green potty downstairs because he wants to do it in the red one upstairs!

Child's toilet seat This is a specially designed seat that fits inside the toilet seat. Choose one that is well padded, and with handles at each side which the child can hold onto to keep himself steady.

Cushion Until your toddler is properly trained it is advisable to take precautions when travelling in the car, or using the buggy. I would advise buying a thin cushion pad and cover it with a polythene bag. This can then be covered with a removable washable, decorative cover. It can be your child's special cushion and used in the buggy, car seat or when visiting friends, and is safer than just placing a plastic bag on the seat. I have found that when a plastic bag is placed on a seat, the child often sees it as a safety net, and is less inclined to mention he needs to pee. He is unaware his cushion has a plastic cover, and because it is his special cushion he will be more likely to want to keep it dry.

Eight pairs of pants It is important to buy them a couple of sizes bigger thus making it easier for your child to pull them up and down by himself. Also allowing for shrinkage due to washing and drying. I never advise using pull-up nappies, as once the nappy is off it should stay off and only be replaced at sleep times. Pull-ups give confusing messages to toddlers and so I wouldn't use them.

Selection of storybooks, cassette tapes and videos Buy or borrow from your local library a selection of short story books and nursery rhyme tapes so he is less likely to become bored while on the potty. Video some suitable children's programmes which can be used as a last resort if he becomes stubborn about using the potty.

Star chart Design a brightly coloured star chart with his name on it, and buy lots of different coloured stars in assorted sizes. When he has successfully used the potty several times in a row, give him an extra big star for being so clever.

Face cloths It is easier for a small child to dry his hands himself on a small face cloth rather than a towel. Choose several with his favourite cartoon characters on to encourage hand-washing after using the potty.

Booster step This is a small step for your child to stand on, enabling him to reach the basin easily when washing his hands. Eventually this can be used for getting up onto the toilet.

Clothing For the first few days of potty training it is best to dress your child in a short t-shirt that does not need to be pulled up above the pants. Furthermore, once the training is under way and going well make sure you dress him in clothes that he finds quick and easy when he uses the potty.
For example vests that fasten under legs should be changed to ordinary ones and avoid dungarees and trousers with lots of buttons and belts. Until he is trained it is better to go for simple shorts or tracksuit-type bottoms with a t-shirt or sweat shirt.

Two buckets These are for use once you have begun Stage One and stopped using nappies. One is filled with warm water and disinfectant to clean up any misses. The other is filled with cold-water soap powder solution to drop wet or soiled pants into.

Taken from Potty Training in One Week by Gina Ford

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