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 Toilet Training   

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Is there a good time to start potty training my twins?
Make sure you have plenty of time and you and your twins are feeling well. Don’t start just before your next baby is due, you are due to move house, your mother-in-law is coming to stay, or before you start a new job, or go on holiday.

Summer is a great time to potty train twins and triplets if you have a garden and some time to spend just potty training your twins. You can put them outside with the potties, some drinks and let them run around without any pants on just put them into a cool cotton top, and put plenty of sun cream on them!

Make sure you stay in the shade and stay with them. Give them plenty of drinks and lots of encouragement!

What age should I start potty training my twins?
A good age to start potty training would be when your twins are between 18 months and three years old, and showing some signs of readiness for being trained. Remember it is not a race- there really is no rush. If you wait until they are older and really ready to be trained you are likely to have a better chance of success than if you started too soon.

The optimum time is probably around the child’s second birthday. By the time your twins reach the age of two, they will probably be able to pull their own pants up, sit confidently on the potty, say when they need a wee, and also have the beginnings of control over their bowels and bladders.

But I was potty trained by the time I was...

In the past people have put their babies onto the potty from around 3 months of age, but this does not teach children to acknowledge when they need to go, it just teaches them to open their bladder and bowels at set times.

My 16 month old twins do a poo after breakfast each morning, should I put them on the potty after breakfast?
If your twins do a poo each day at the same time you may be able to catch it in the potty if you put them onto the potty at the correct time which may save you one dirty nappy a day.

The point of potty training is to teach them to recognise when they need the toilet, acknowledging the urge to go and then going to the toilet/ potty and using the toilet/ potty appropriately.

My twins were premature, should I wait a while to potty train them?

This depends on your twin’s development. If they appear ready, train them.

 If they don’t seem ready wait a while. It may be that they will be ready around the time they WOULD have been 18 months+ had they been born on their expected due date. So if your babies were 6 weeks premature for instance, you might find that they are 19 Months +2 weeks when they show early signs of being ready for being potty trained. If you are in any doubt contact your Health Visitor for guidance.

How will I know when my twins are ready to be potty trained?

Watch out for signs of readiness. These signs include:

  • Being at least 18 months old and preferably two to three years old
  • Being uncomfortable in a dirty or wet nappy
  • Removing a wet or dirty nappy
  • Stating they need a wee
  • Wanting to use a potty or toilet
  • Showing an interest when others use a toilet
  • Wanting to wear pants like a “big boy/ girl”
  • Being able to pull trousers and pants down on their own confidently
  • Hiding in corners/ under the table when they are about to do a poo
  • Going for a length of time without having a wet nappy.
  • Being confident at standing, walking and sitting down.

How long will it take to potty train my twins?
This depends on your individual children, it may take days, weeks, months or longer. The trick is to give them plenty of time, be patient and don’t try to hurry them at all.

What should I do- just one twin is ready to be potty trained?
If just one twin shows signs of readiness just train that one twin, the other one will soon catch up. It is important not to make both of them train at the same time if one is not ready so don’t delay or hurry potty training. Let each child work at his/her own pace.

What equipment do I need to potty train my twins/triplets?
At first the main thing that you will need is Potties.

If you have a house it would be a good idea to buy two potties per child so that they can have a potty each both upstairs and downstairs. If you live in a flat or bungalow you will be able to buy just one potty each.

Later as your twins get more confident it would be a good idea to buy a stepping stool and a toilet trainer seat to go on the toilet. They will need to feel secure whilst sat on the toilet and having their feet firmly on something solid like a stool will help them to feel more confident.

You may also like to buy them some moist toilet tissue wipes like Kandoo wipes (supermarkets sell their own brand ones too) check to see if they are flushable.

When you are out and about you may need a travel potty or a cheap plastic potty to keep in the car “just in case”

For night times you will need some pull up pants and later a plastic or absorbent sheet to go on the bed until they are dry at night.

Choose Suitable Clothing
They will also need cheap cotton pants or knickers, clothes that don’t have fiddly buttons, zips etc cheap jogging bottoms with elasticated waists are absolutely ideal for potty training.

Choosing potties
Make sure that the potties you choose are big enough for your child as they are not a standard size.

Potties come in all shapes colours and sizes so get your child to choose their own – even if you give them a choice of two or three suitable ones to choose from.

Boys would benefit from having a potty with a fairly deep lip on it at the front so that when they wee it doesn’t go everywhere.

Choosing a stepping stool and a child friendly loo seat
It is important that your children feel comfortable and confident when making the move from potty to loo. Having a stepping stool means they can reach the loo and the child friendly seat means that they don’t feel that they are in danger of falling into the toilet bowl!

You can get integrated toilet seats with a small children’s seat which fits over the adult seat. The children’s one can be put up when the adults need to use the loo. Children often prefer this as it doesn’t wobble like the ones that you put over the loo seat. If you get one of these in a fairly early stage of potty training you can introduce the idea of sitting on the loo earlier and possibly make the process smoother.

Eat sensibly
Always ensure that your children have a good diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and are kept hydrated with plenty of water and dilute fruit juices. This is especially important when you are helping your children to learn about using the toilet and potty.

If doing a poo is a painless experience your child is more likely to develop good potty habits than if your child is constipated and it hurts when doing a poo. If your child is constipated at all or if their stools (poo) seems hard or difficult to pass contact your GP for some advice and medication.

Stage Two:  Preparing your twins for potty training.

You can start preparing your twins for potty training well in advance. When you go to the toilet yourself talk to them about it. “Mummy needs a wee now”

Notice if they are going red in the face or pushing (the usual signs that they are filling their nappies) you could say “are you doing a poo?” This helps him associate the signs of needing a poo or wee with actually doing one.

If you have been using very absorbent disposable nappies you may benefit from ‘downgrading’ to cheaper nappies for a short while prior to potty training. This is so that your twins can get used to the idea of feeling the urge to wee, followed by weeing and then getting wet. You could do this when you are at home, if your furnishings can stand it. Pampers have brought out a new type of nappy which helps babies to feel the wetness for a short length of time in the run up to potty training.

During the warmer weather you could let your twins run round the garden without nappies on.

Introduce the potties initially at bath time. You can remove their nappy and trousers/ skirt and pop them on the potty whilst the bath is running. If something happens then praise them and if nothing happens that time praise them for just sitting there.

Stage Three:  Begin potty training

Once they have sat on the potty at bath time successfully put a potty each in the bathroom or downstairs loo if there is enough room, sometimes take them with you and get them to sit on the potty when you use the loo.

Next aim to take them onto the potty after each meal. Leave it about twenty minutes then put them onto the potty. If nothing happens that is absolutely fine. If they do have a ‘success’ reward it with lots of praise.

Once they have mastered the art of sitting on the potty after meals and before bed you could put them into cotton pants or knickers when you are at home.

Have potties ready, and give a regular amount of drinks. Don’t limit drinks but equally don’t go overboard with them. Stay with them, and encourage them to sit regularly on the potty. Praise any attempts and any successes. Give them a book to look at if it helps them to sit down on the potty.

If you would like to protect your carpets putting the plastic mat that people use under highchairs with an old towel on the top can mop up any spillages and protect your flooring.

If you have a tiled or lino floor it may be worth taking them into that room to potty train, this way at least any spillage’s can be mopped away and properly disinfected without running the risk of damaging an expensive carpet.

What to do when out and about whilst potty training twins

When out and about in these early stages it would probably be a good idea to put them into pull ups just to save embarrassment, unless you are going somewhere child friendly with a wipe clean floor. Later on when they are more confident and better at controlling their bladders you might be able to be brave and wear knickers and pants whilst out and about.

You can buy travel potties with plastic liners which can be thrown away after use, as well as special protective mats to keep car seats clean. Make sure you visit the toilet the minute you arrive at your destination and also before you leave as well as after having a drink.

Have plenty of changes of clothes- take complete sets not just trousers and pants because often they will soak through their t-shirts too especially with boys. It is also a good idea to take carrier bags to put soiled clothes in.

Potty training Boys

When choosing potties for boys you would be as well to buy a potty with a good lip on it so they do not splash over the side of the potty.

People often assume that boys and girls get trained to use the potty in the same way. This is not always the case as some boys prefer to wee standing up at the loo, right from the start. If so, get Dad enlisted to show him how to manage this, and get your son to sit down on the potty after each meal

Your son may prefer to be given a stepping stool and a toilet trainer seat to go on the loo instead, if so, fine, go with that. Some boys prefer to use the potty for doing a poo and the loo for a wee. This is fine, the only potential problem being him having to chose whether he needs to sit down or stand up to do what he needs to do. However normally they understand quite quickly what to do and so it does not become a big problem.

If you are going to teach your son to use the loo to do his wee’s you may want to buy a pedestal mat to protect your floor covering, as little boys aims take a little while perfecting. Also ensure that he gets used to putting the seat up when he needs a wee and back down again afterwards!

If you find that your little boys need help with aiming there are a couple of tricks you could try- some people have put a ping pong ball in the toilet and asked their boys to aim for the ping pong ball. Other mums have put a blue toilet block in the loo and suggested seeing if their sons could turn the water green by weeing on it.

Other mums have put an old towel down the back of the toilet which catches any splashes and changed the towel regularly.

A few considerations:

  • Girls get to sit down for all proceedings, boys often find it easier to stand for to urinate, therefore having to decide to sit down, girls are seated anyway and can just let nature take its course.
  • Buy a potty with a good lip on it for boys so that they do not splash over the side of the potty.
  • Whether you decide to get your son to stand up at the loo to urinate or to sit down on a potty is up to you and your child, your child will probably let you know what they prefer
  • If possible give your children some good soft wipes to wipe their bottoms successfully. If this is not practical then ensure they are able to reach the toilet tissue.

Stage 4 Dry at Night

Night times

At first it is a good idea to put your children into pull ups or nappies at night time, until they are dry during the day or are waking up with a dry nappy each morning. Once they are confidently dry during the day you can risk putting them into bed in their cotton pants/knickers. If they do happen to wet their bed, change it quickly and without fuss.

It is a good idea to have an absorbent sheet or plastic sheet underneath the regular sheet to protect the mattress. It is also possible to buy a duvet protector to save the duvet from getting soaked. These can be bought over the internet.

Try not to limit drinks if your children bed wet as it can lead to dehydration. One good idea might be to offer their bedtime drink about half an hour to an hour before bed and then get them to use the loo before they go to sleep.

If you want them to use their potties in the night, it would be a good idea to put the potties into their bedroom with a night light on, so that they can see where they are. We put potties onto plastic sheets with a towel on the top to protect the carpet from any spills and on the whole this was a success. Later they will be able to go to the toilet during the night and it would be a good idea to either leave the landing or hallway light on and the bathroom light so that they can see where they are going.

It is not uncommon for children to be still wetting the bed beyond 4 years old, sometimes up to junior school age and beyond. If you are at all concerned by your children wetting the bed, contact your GP or health visitor for advice.

When can I expect my child to be completely dry day and night?

This depends on your child, and you may find one is dry full stop long before the other one.

Most children will be dry by the time they are at full-time school.

 Some children will still be soiling themselves after this age. If you are worried then do not hesitate to contact your health visitor for advice

 She may ask you to make a reward or star chart for when your child does go appropriately or suggest other strategies. Have plenty of patience, it will come, although it does take time.

Stage 5:  Moving from Potty to Loo
Some children do this seamlessly, others prefer to use the grown up loo with the aid of a stepping stool and a toilet trainer seat.

When they are more confident you will find that they are willing to try using the grown up loo (or will have to use it when you are out and about)

You may find that they want you to wipe their bottoms when they have done a poo, or they may like to use a moist toilet tissue or special wipes designed for use by children.

Bladder control but not bowel

Some children do find that they are able to control their bladders quite nicely but are reluctant to open their bowels on a potty or toilet.

 If this is the case and they are still soiling themselves although they are dry generally, you need to encourage them to tell you when they need to go to the potty or toilet, and if necessary go with them, also find out if there is anything they are afraid of.

If you find that they really will not go to the toilet or potty to do a poo, ensure that you have given them plenty of drinks and fruit and vegetables so that they do not get constipated and then try to get them to sit on the potty after meals and before bed.

If you find that they are still regularly soiling themselves go see your GP or health visitor for advice.

Conclusion

Potty Training takes time and patience, they will get there so please don’t panic if it doesn’t happen overnight. Try to keep calm and praise them when they do sit on the potty, and when something happens.

If you need any more advice please either email sarah@twinsonline.org.uk or post a note on the Forum to gain support and advice from other twin and triplet parents.

Good Luck!

 
 

 

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 If you have a health concern please go see the relevant member of your health team (GP, Health Visitor, Midwife, Obstetrician)

Potty Training Twins

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