Successful Potty Training with your Daycare
This post was originally posted on January 22, 2018, and has been fully updated on August 24, 2021 to include an audio (Podcast) version, a video (YouTube) version, and to include some basic updates. Enjoy! xx Andrea
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If you want to watch me record today’s podcast episode, you can do that on my youtube version:
Parents, you may be wondering how to be successful at potty training while your child is in daycare much of the day. Today's post is a guest post by Danielle Gajewski, our Certified Coach in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Her post was originally published on her website, weepotty.ca, on May 24, 2017. I hope you enjoy it! xx Andrea
For most parents these days, some type of childcare is part of their child’s week. Whether its grandma’s house, a dayhome/in-home daycare, full or part-time daycare, or even a drop-in at the gym….
So how do you potty-train while your child is in someone else’s care?
There was a time, not so long ago that daycares took some responsibility over potty-training, or even led the process completely.
Unfortunately, today’s “wait till they’re ready" message and ever larger diaper sizes has given daycares the opportunity to shirk this responsibility, and many now ask parents to keep their children in pull-ups WHILE they work on potty-training.
The situation in dayhomes (in the US, these are called in-home daycares - Andrea) is not necessarily better. Each provider's own experiences and prejudices will certainly effect their willingness to assist.
You might believe that your 20 month old is capable of potty-training, but does your daycare provider even think potty-training at that age is possible?
Surprise! They may have a policy.
First and foremost, don’t let your daycare’s potty-training policy come as a surprise to you. I hear from SO MANY parents who say:
“We potty-trained over the last week, and things have gone well. But I don’t think my daycare will let my child go commando, and he’s due back tomorrow… what should I do?”
If this is you, please find a time machine and have a conversation about potty-training with your daycare well before you actually begin. :)
Talk with them about it, up-front.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good communication between yourself and your daycare provider on this. I would go so far as to enquire about their policy as part of your daycare interviews when choosing a provider.
The potty-training policy should also be included in the agreement you sign when you register your child. Read it carefully and be sure to ask questions about it.
Ask whether a potty is available in or near the child's classroom.
Second, if the children at your daycare are segregated into different rooms based on age, be sure to ask whether they can offer the potty in the younger-age room – or at what age your child will be able to move to the older-age room if toilets are only available in that area.
The law....? :-/
Having just read the Alberta Health Services “Health and Safety Guidelines for Child Care Facilities,” I can tell you that there is nothing in there about potty-training.
It does not say that your child needs to be in diapers or pull-ups or even underwear to attend daycare, so any policies to this effect will be those of the individual care center or dayhome.
(Parent reader: please check your local, State, or Country's regulations regarding child care facilities by doing a quick Google search. Be informed! - Andrea)
At the same time, daycares are responsible for maintaining a clean and safe facility and may feel that having your child in diapers will minimize the risk of children being in contact with another’s bodily fluids.
Other ways to keep childcare spaces clean (besides mandatory diapers)
It’s a fair point, but I think that there are other opportunities for keeping the childcare spaces clean while maintaining the potty-training progress of the child.
- having flooring surfaces that are easy to clean,
- paying special attention to the potty-training child for the first week or two,
- initiating frequent potty breaks, (I like to suggest every hour, or whenever the teachers usually change diapers if it's not too spread apart - Andrea)
- asking parents to provide many changes of clothes, and, finally,
- allowing children to use CLOTH training pants, if that is working well for the child at home. (Alternatively, some kids really need to have nothing but pants on their bums “commando” for the first 2 to 4 weeks of potty-training in order to get the hang of it. See what the center will allow.)
Ensuring a smooth transition.
Some children do really well with potty-training at daycare. Others struggle a lot.
This is mainly due to their individual personalities, as well as the daycare provider’s commitment to helping.
In order to ensure the smoothest transition from at-home potty-training to daycare-training, I generally recommend that parents speak to BOTH their child and the daycare provider (about how potty-training should be managed).
Talking with the daycare provider.
If there is a caregiver that your child generally responds well to, ask this person to be “in charge” of the potty training responsibilities for your child at daycare, as much as possible.
This person should be the one to take your child to the potty each time, should be the one watching for your child's signals, and also paying attention to your child in case there is an accident, then calmly helping your child to potty and get cleaned-up.
Sharing your child's intervals and signals.
After your potty-training experience at home, you should have a good idea of the regular intervals that your child needs to pee, as well as any unique signals that your child gives before going.
Write these down and give them to the caregiver!
Reminding your child who to ask.
Once the caregiver is on-board, let your child know that all the daycare workers are there to help him stay dry, but that if he needs to “go”, he should let “Miss X” know right away, and she will take him to the bathroom.
This takes away any confusion about what your child should do in this new situation.
NOTE: Please check out Podcast Episode 84: To Daycare without Diapers, one that I’ve written and recorded in the past that INCLUDES 2 handouts, one for the parent, one for the daycare teacher, that will help you tremendously with this process - and they’re free!
Also, please check out my new minicourse EC and Daycare - only available on our private book owners’ network.
And that is it! Thank you, Danielle G., for your wonderful guest post. Now it's your turn, mama/daddy:
Please comment below with your "potty training with daycare" struggles, surprises, and positive experiences.
We look forward to hearing from you.
My oldest daughter was almost single handedly potty trained by her daycare provider. They were so great and wanted her out of diaper as soon as possible. They said to just bring lots of outfit changes and they would take care of the rest! However, because of this I was completely unprepared for my second daughter’s potty training experience when I became a SAHM. So I’m very thankful I found. Is website! She is 18 months and potty independent!
My 28 months old just started a day care. She is not Waring pull ups or diapers at home during day time, except at night time. She asks to go to the bathroom if we are out side home and she goes by herself when we are at home.The day care we joined three weeks a go forced us to put pull ups or diaper on her. .they said that she never asked to go to the bathroom by herself unless they offer her. They said she poops and pees in her diaper too in the day care..i told them that not to put any diapers at list for one day and they refused. I am helpless. My daughter is only using pull ups or diapers in day care. The day care refused to work with us or to give her a chance at list for one day. we don’t know what to do..Pleas help. this is the only day care convenient for us to drop and pick since we also have two older kids. the day care is right next to our other kids school .HElP!!
Hi Lora! I’m sorry to hear you’re having difficulties. It doesn’t sound like they are willing to deal with potty learning at all, which is ridiculous at her age. Really the best thing would be to find a new place, it doesn’t seem like that’s an option for you. You could try putting her in training pants and a cover like a Tiny Up for daycare. That way at least she’ll be feeling wet if she goes. xx Andrea
Please try to find another center. There are better ones out there I promise. The quality is often worth the inconvenience. If you absolutely can’t find another option please don’t put her in cloth pull ups. She is likely miserable enough to be sitting in her filth if she is that well potty trained at home. Centers like this often only change the diapers every 2hrs, regardless of when they’re soiled and keeping her in a wet/soiled cloth diaper that long could be hazardous to her health.
Im a toilet for kids potty training
That’s fantastic Sarah! What a gem of a daycare. It sounds like you did a fantastic job with your second daughter, congrats! xx Andrea
Is it possible to do early (9 month) poo training at home for the morning poo but not bother with it during the day at school and just keep her in diapers there? Or will she start holding it in at daycare and develop stress about it?
You absolutely can do EC for poops at home and have her in diapers at daycare. Babies are really smart, they figure out who offers the potty and who doesn’t. xx Andrea
We have been moving our 17 month old toward potty independence this summer while I was on break. Her babysitter was on board. However, we just moved her to full-time care at the center our oldest (not ec’d) attended. I have been worried about whether they would understand and take her to the potty when she says “pie” (her version of “potty”). I wrote it in her paperwork, but when I picked her up on day one she had a very soiled pull up. I was ready to say, that’s it! Next week I’m sending you in tiny-ups. They’ll listen for your signals when you’re not wearing a diaper!
This post is helping me to dial it back a bit. I’ll start with having a conversation with her actual caregivers (we spoke with the director before enrolling her). Thanks for posting this.
Hi Jenifer! I’m so glad you’re going to get things sorted for your daughter at daycare, way to stand up for her. Even if she’s in pull ups it is really awful that she was in a dirty one. They should be changing her more often. I have no doubt moving to Tiny Ups will help. xx Andrea
My son 5 years and I try many time for help him to potty training and I failed I need help and I am alone he didn’t see anyone just me and his dad and I am try but need professional help, thx
Can I be the toilet for kids potty training
We focus on encouraging babies to communicate their potty needs so that we can get them to the toilet in time.
Have you checked out my Potty Tribe? Every Friday, a few coaches and I get together over zoom to help parents navigate EC and potty training. There you can get more in depth help.
My 17m old is diaper free at home (still lots of pee misses but also lots of catches.) Daycare is totally on board with ec but it seems baby will never pee or poo on toilet at daycare. She waits until diapers are back on. Not sure what to do. Have asked daycare if she can just let baby go diaper free and i send a lot of pants for the misses…not sure what else to do. Any suggestions? I am so thankful daycare is on board i just wish that with all the effort daycare lady is putting in she was getting some reward :)
Hi Davon! I think ditching diapers is the way to go. If daycare is worried about a mess, you can do undies or training pants with something like a Tiny Up over it. That’s what I sent my kiddo in. xx Andrea
We were super gung-ho having just finished the GDF tiny potty training book, to get started with our 18 month old. Then daycare (that I thought would help) said they don’t do that until they are in the two year old room. They were impressed that we were going to start potty training and said to still do it, but that she would have to wear diapers while at daycare (3 days/week). Based off our reading and our readiness to ditch diapers, this seems like it won’t work well. How do you tell a kid, you are done with diapers Fri-Mon but in them Tues-Thurs? Help!?
Hi Angelina! I am sorry to hear daycare changed their mind. Hopefully you can get them to offer the potty here and there to keep it part of the routine. It is definitely possible for you to potty train at home. Things may progress a little slower with daycare not on board, but it will happen. I would switch the back up for daycare from regular diapers to either training pants with a waterproof cover or a pull up. Then call them “school pants” and only use them for daycare. xx Andrea
please consider the issue of various children peeing on your carpet before passing judgement. A child who will not tell you they have to use the toilet, is not ready. Period. Sorry to parents who find that inconvenient. I wonder how many of you would like a child to owe on your carpet. You really think you pay to trash someone’s home?
Hi Denice! I did mention that daycares are responsible for maintaining a clean and safe facility and may feel that having your child in diapers will minimize the risk of children being in contact with another’s bodily fluids. That’s why I feel training pants are a good alternative. They will prevent a mess and keep the child learning. xx Andrea
Thank you for bringing this up. Please stop assuming childcare providers are “shirking their responsibilities,” you’re not there. If a child never initiates trips to the bathroom and after several days hasn’t had a single successful attempt on the potty, it’s time to put on a diaper, they’re not ready and you’re harming their development by forcing it.
There is definitely a learning curve Pamela. It can take a few days for a kiddo to learn the new expectation at daycare to use the potty. You don’t want to rush them back into diapers after a day or two, but you also don’t want them regularly having accidents for days on end. Odds are things haven’t quite clicked if that’s the case. xx Andrea
I can’t agree with you more! I was thinking exactly the same. :’shrinking their responsibilities’ sounds very judgmental.
Hi, I am a in home daycare provider. It’s just me and 6 kids, 2 of my own. I have a 35 month old boy who his parents really want to potty train him. They’ve tried a few times already and had no success. Yesterday dad drops him off saying they did some sort of training this week; had him in undies for the first part of the day and that was all the info I got. Plus one pair of training undies and was told it was up to me if I wanted to try. So I tried. He wet 5 pairs of undies(I had some ready to pass on that my son outgrew), never went in the potty and never asked to go or told me he was wet. He started refusing going to the potty to try so I put him in a diaper. I made this decision because they are not going full on at home and plan to next week plus he started refusing. I’m also concerned because he has no ability to pull up or down his undies on his own.
I’m looking for suggestions, I feel until the parents have at least committed to it full time I would too, Because again he’s dropped off with a “if you to” but do they even want too? Do you think the things I mentioned are signs he’s not ready? Thank you!
Kids don’t need to show signs of readiness to start potty training. That is a myth. However; I agree with you, if the parents aren’t committed at home, then they are basically putting it on you to potty train their son. I would have a conversation and just tell the parents that you are willing to potty train (if of course you are), but they need to be committed full time at home as well. The consistency is what the little ones need. 💕
My son was in an in home daycare when he was a year and two years old. The woman keeping him was open to offering him the potty, so I was blessed in that, but pottying at daycare wasn’t particularly successful the first year. She was conventionally potty training her own son, a year older than mine, without much success, and I think that “readiness” mindset stood in the way. I needed to be more committed as well, in retrospect, as I kept sending my son in cloth diapers that first year and I was pretty chill about it because he only went three days a week, even though I had wanted to move away from diapers when he started walking. Over the summer, I committed more fully and ditched the diapers for good. That next year, my son went to daycare in trainers. Since he was two, a more common age for potty training, and wasn’t wearing diapers, it was easier to get other people to cooperate. Ultimately, I think that it all came down to my confidence, though, because I no longer felt like I was asking for something weird. I’m hoping that these lessons will help me wrap up the diaper phase more quickly with baby 2, even though he too will likely be in daycare at some point.
My son will be 4 in January.
He’s been getting better with training at home but he has 2 new teachers in his class that have been in there for almost 3 weeks and I’m starting to feel as if one of the teachers is not committed to helping him and gets frustrated with him.
Today upon picking him up I asked her to sit him on the potty since we have an hour ride home. I witnessed her telling him to sit on the potty, not assisting him with unbuttoning his pants and the raised her voice slightly when he flushed more than once. He then asked for help pulling his underwear up because it started to roll & got stuck in his shorts & she barely pulled his pants up and didn’t button them. If she helped him properly she probably would have discovered that he already soaked his pants and she didn’t say a word about it.
She wasn’t anywhere near him when he sat to even know if he went or not and didn’t use any type of positive reinforcement.
She just puts off such a negative vibe.
My heart hurts to think about what she’s doing or not doing during the day while I’m not watching.
Your concern is something I would discuss with the lead teacher. If she acted like that in front of you, who knows how she acts when you are not around. Please be clear as I am not saying it is worse, but I do suggest having a talk, at least to ease your mind and to make sure that your little one is getting the care that he deserves.
My first daughter was almost completely potty trained at daycare by 30 months. Now our twin girls are 30 months and their new daycare (we moved) has not even started potty training. We are getting into power struggles with the twins and sometimes they refuse to sit on the potty. I’ve tried to talk to the daycare but their lead teacher says she doesn’t have time to potty train. They are due to move up to the next classroom this month (although the director cannot tell me when that will actually happen) and the teacher in the new classroom is supposed to be good at potty training. I’m worried we missed the boat and they will be way too hard to potty train. Also, I am wanting to set up their twin beds (they’re still in cribs) but my husband is worried that is too much for them to handle with trying to potty train. They are too big and heavy to be lifting in and out of cribs. The twin beds have half length guard rails, so they won’t fall out of bed. Do you think that’s too much change? Any advice regarding daycare? Thanks so much!
Those are big changes in your little ones lives, but each kid is different in the way that they respond to change. Some kiddos are easy going about it, and others are not. Best bet is to listen to your gut, and what you think your little ones can handle.
As far as day care, if there isn’t anything you can do to get them into the next class, start introducing the potty at home. Having your older kiddo help teach your twins can often help speed the process, because kids love to learn from one another and copy other kiddos.
I’m a potty for kids toilet training
My daycare’s philosophy is one that is “child-led” (note I am an American living in Germany, and the language barrier IS an issue). Our kid was home/traveling with us for 9 weeks from early December 2021 (when we ditched daytime diapers, ~17 months old), then after 1 part-time week back at daycare we were all in covid-induced family-quarantine for 3 weeks, so this has essentially been his first full week back at daycare.
Long story, short: our kid has had A LOT of success in his family of 4 (2 consistent caretakers) over the past 3+ months, in spite of one post-travel regression that lasted 3 weeks, BUT is apparently peeing in his pants & not telling anyone about it in his daycare setting of 20 (4 fluctuating caretakers) for the past 1 week.
Daycare has decided they want to put him in Pull-Ups/Training Pants (they say for the next 1-2 weeks) and continue to ask him if he wants to go to the toilet, if he wants to wear a diaper or undies and take him with the other potty training kids. I feel like them asking him “pull-up or underwear” is confusing and is causing him to stop reliably telling us at home as well. They insist that when he is “ready” to learn to use the toilet, then this will be all he can focus on and all he will want to do, and right now he’s not ready because it’s not a priority for him when he’s there. I tried explaining that he’s already past this phase of infatuation with the pottying process and now we are in the phase of maintaining good habits and encouraging independence. They don’t believe me – they say that sure he’s that way at home, but he needs to have that same revelation/development at daycare, separately (?). It feels very understandable (to me) that he would be too distracted to use the toilet in this first week back at daycare – it bears mentioning that for the first time, he just walked into the room with the other kids 3 days in a row WITHOUT crying when I was leaving – BIG shift. I wish they would give him 1-2 weeks without this confusing offering of diaper or undies, but I also understand it’s not hygienic if my kid is (shock to us, btw) not telling the when he’s peed & continuing to play that way.
I guess this is a (very) long way of asking:
1) what is my strongest argument against such a “child-led” philosophy?, and
2) how to explain the sudden shift to Pull-Ups to my 20 month old? Daycare is refusing to use Tiny Trainers with PUL covers – I guess it’s less convenient when you can’t rip them off a kid.
I’m feeling pretty heartbroken, and would love some advice on how to move forward (understanding that if/when this gets a response we might already be in a full-fledged diapers at daycare/undies at home situation).
Can I be the toilet for potty training
When you say to “google”, could you please inform me of what specifically to search for? I looked for my states child care facilities regulations. They did have a section on diapers (not required) but not much else
Hi! Armed with that information, that diapers are not required in your state, you can go to your chosen daycare and see if they have the facilities and are willing to work with you as far as incorporating EC into your little ones day care routine. You got this momma!