Has this ever happened to you? You’re trying to wrap up elimination communication (or you’ve started potty training), and your kiddo INSISTS on using the big potty. Not only that, she refuses to let you help her get up there! How the heck are you supposed to encourage independence without letting her hurt herself? Tune in this week for a step-by-step that will help you conquer this common conundrum.
You Will Hear:
- At what age your child will realistically be able to get onto the big toilet independently
- Where to find helpful visual aids for mounting the big potty
- Tips for encouraging climbing the potty independently AND safely
- Tools to prevent sitting resistance and encourage overall potty independence
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- Go Diaper Free Book
- Wrapping Up EC MiniCourse
- “Passing the Baton” Young Toddlers EC Program
- Mini Potty
- “Tiny Potty” board book
- Tiny Potty Training Book
- Ginsey Toilet Seat Reducer
- Potette Plus travel potty seat
- Seat reducer with attached ladder
- Tiny Undies small baby underwear
- Tiny Undies Store
- Go Diaper Free Store
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
EPISODE 263: Teaching a toddler to climb onto the big potty
Has this ever happened to you? You're wrapping up elimination communication, or you've started potty training and your kiddo insists on using the big potty. Not only that, she refuses to let you help her get up there. How the heck are you supposed to encourage independence without letting her hurt herself? Not to worry. We've got a step-by-step that will help you conquer this common conundrum. This is episode 263, teaching a toddler to climb onto the big potty.
Hello, and welcome to The Go Diaper Free Podcast. I'm your host, Nicole Cheever, Go Diaper Free certified coach and mama to three kiddos who all went through EC and potty training at different ages and stages.
Hi there. Thanks so much for joining me back here on The Go Diaper Free Podcast. I'm Nicole Cheever and this is episode 263, Teaching a toddler to climb onto the big potty. Once you're done listening here, please make sure you head over to godiaperfree.com/263. You'll find the show notes there with everything that I'm talking about linked for your convenience, and you can leave us comments and ask us any questions you have about the episode or just pottying in general. If you're watching on YouTube or you are listening on your favorite podcast player, please make sure you subscribe so you're notified about all of our new episodes and we would absolutely love it if you leave us a review as well.
We got an anonymous comment on social media, and I think this is a common tricky situation that a lot of people go through when their toddlers are right around that 18 month mark. It says, "How do you train them to get on the toilet seat reducer independently, climbing up the step stool with trousers at ankles, and then they have to pivot on the top in order to sit on the toilet seat? These are very difficult skills, maybe too much to ask of a 17 month old?" Well, I will cut to the chase right here. It's definitely not too much to ask. It does depend a little bit on physical skill and development, but plenty of 16, 17 and 18 month olds can get up on the big potty with a little practice and some help, so we're going to cover that today.
Mounting the potty is one of the building blocks of potty independence. You'll find that outlined in the Go Diaper Free book. We also have a MiniCourse, Wrapping Up, which helps you to get all those building blocks in place in order to help your child become potty independent, which is of course the ultimate goal. If you are starting EC in this 12 to 18 month time period, we have the “Passing the Baton” Young Toddler EC Program, which will get you started and wrapped up in that timeframe, so that's really helpful if you're just stepping your toe into the waters of elimination communication and your baby's already past a year old.
We like to teach “back, back, squat” and to sit on the Mini Potty, but some kids just insist on using the big potty. They all have their preferences. If you have the “Tiny Potty” board book, this might help encourage them to use the Mini Potty, which is a little bit easier and safer for them to get onto, at least at first. We also have the Isadora Teaches videos in the Tiny Potty Training Book private book owners area. That's part of your resources, and she shows your child how to get on both the Mini Potty and a seat reducer. So either one, whichever one your child prefers, you've got an Isadora Teaches video. Of course, if you have older children in your life that can demonstrate for your child, that can help as well because the way we would teach it as an adult might not always be the way that's easiest or most intuitive for a child. So having them watch another child do it can really, really help. They learn by watching and by doing.
Do not get rid of your Mini Potty. No matter how dead set your child is on using the big potty and the seat reducer, don't get rid of that Mini Potty. I would encourage you to leave it out in at least one room, maybe it's the bathroom right there so they have either option depending on what they want to do. My kids have always gone back and forth, and you also want to have it for travel. I have a Mini Potty in every single vehicle my kids ride in because it's just there for convenience and in case of emergency, so definitely keep it on hand until you're well past the sudden, "I need to go pee-pee," phase of their childhoods.
If you're practicing elimination communication, you'll usually find out what your child's preference is while you're in the process of passing the baton. While you're in the process of putting those building blocks of potty independence into place, you will learn your child's preferences. If you're just starting out potty training or you’re thinking about potty training, you can use the optional ease in prep step time to figure out what your kiddo's preferences are. And sometimes it's good to buy a seat reducer and just try it out. But if you're in that toddler phase already, especially if you have a particularly opinionated child like two of mine have been, it's good to let them help you pick out the toilet seat reducer. It can help them get a little bit excited about the process. And my oldest especially really had a preference for how stable he felt on the toilet seat reducer. He really needed something with handles that his bottom could just sink into, otherwise he felt too wobbly and it was uncomfortable for him.
Even though one setup or another might be more convenient or easier to deal with for you as the parent, if you lean into their preferences and allow them to use what they prefer and what sort of process they prefer, that can go a long way to preventing resistance during the process. That's a really big tip for y'all. If you are wrapping up or you're potty training, anything you can do to prevent resistance. Not going crazy here. We're not going to be rewarding or anything like that, but if we're able to provide tools that our children prefer, it's going to make the whole thing a lot smoother.
When we're talking about seat reducers, there's a lot of different combinations. Like I said, there are a lot of different styles. My oldest really wanted something with handles. My middle kiddo could balance on really anything. She was using the big potty without a reducer pretty early on because she just wanted to perch right up there. My youngest has kind of hopped back and forth between a lot of different tools. Sometimes you're going to have a seat reducer with a stool in front of the toilet so they can reach it, and that's what Andrea is using in the Isadora Teaches videos from when Isadora was little.
Another option is a seat reducer with a ladder already attached to it. If you're going to get one of these, make sure you get one with good handles, not just something for your child to grab onto, but actually round open handles with the cutout in the middle so they can wrap their little hands around something and grab on pretty securely. That's going to help them with that a lot. It's also important to get one that has pretty decent non-slip pads on the feet so that the ladder isn't sliding around and slipping out from under them, so it's important to get a stable one in general.
One of the pieces to this we want to teach is pushing their pants down to just their knees, not all the way to their ankles. This is a little bit easier said than done. My youngest insists on pushing her pants all the way down to her ankles right now, and she will not have help with it, but this is a building block. This is one of the building blocks of potty independence, is pushing their pants down to their knees so that they can still move their feet. Either your child can do this themselves or you can help them. You can also dress them in stretchier pants, pants a size up, and even undies a size up as well, because that makes everything a little bit looser and they can move around a bit better without being totally restricted and at more risk of tripping or falling.
Help and support them as much as possible, as much as they will let you, but we do want to give them a sense of independence and a sense of autonomy because that's what really drives this desire to be potty independent, and we want to foster that and encourage it. Whatever you're using, seat reducer with the stool or a ladder setup, leave it on the potty and let them take it off and put it on as much as they want to. That includes climbing onto it as much as they want to. They will often do this obsessively, especially right around a year old, even when it's not time for them to go potty. They're just practicing and practicing, the same way they obsessively practice things like standing up or rolling over as they develop. It's part of the learning process. It helps build that into their long-term memory, which they're also developing right around 18 months old, and so it's really important for them to keep doing those physical maneuvers again and again and get it ingrained and just work it all out in their heads.
My kids also take their toys to the potty a lot when they don't have to go pee. At certain stages, them taking a toy to the potty can kind of be a signal to me, especially if it's right around that time for their natural timing, that it's time to go potty. But in general, I just give them access to the bathroom and they go in and out and sometimes potty their toys and practice putting that reducer on and taking it off. Certain phases, especially my youngest has wanted to throw a bunch of things into the toilet, so I can't always give her complete free open access, but I do try to make at least one or two set times during the day where I can open that door and just monitor her and let her go in and out and through all of the steps.
My kiddos have always climbed on and off the ladders and stools with their pants around their ankles or knees, and this is okay. One thing you can try to teach is for your child to step up onto the step or the stool before pushing their pants down. Have them step up on there. If it's a ladder with those handles, you can help them move one hand over to where the other one is, so both hands are holding on the same side and then turn themselves around, and then take that second hand and switch it back to the first side. So for instance, you can take their right hand, put it with their left hand on the left side, have them rotate around so they're facing away from the potty, and then move their left hand over to the opposite free handle. I hope that makes sense. I kind of tried to act it out in the YouTube version, so if you need a visual, you can head over there. If you can teach them to step up, turn around, and then push their pants down, that can help.
You can also experiment with this. Sometimes stepping up, pushing their pants down, and then rotating around is better. But in general, just be there. Have your hands out as much as they'll let you. Again, some kids really, really want this privacy, but just like you did when you started putting them on the seat reducer and gave them privacy by stepping away, you can put pillows or bath towels or something on the bathroom floor around the toilet in case they do take a tumble.
A couple of our bathrooms in our house, we have two and a half, have a little corner to the sink counter right next to the toilet, so I've put bumpers on that. Just baby proof, child proof as much as you need to. But as far as it being too much for a 17-month-old, again, as I said in the beginning of the episode, I wouldn't agree with that. My youngest is the first child that we did EC from close to birth with, and so she's my youngest example out of the three. She was trying to get up on the ladder at 14 months. That's when we first got the ladder set up with the toilet seat reducer. Her feet when she sat on the potty didn't quite touch the step and the one we got, the step was not adjustable, so she had to accept our help with that one for a little while because she just couldn't reach it.
She mastered getting up there while bottomless at 15 months. She went through a phase where she insisted on completely removing her pants, anything from the waist down for every single potty-tunity. Now she won't let you take them all the way off. Again, they go back and forth. And she was climbing with pants around her ankles at 16 months. She's still doing it now at about 26 months, and my four and a half year old is doing it as well. As many times as I tell them, “get up on the step and then push your pants down,” they don't want to. So again, it's just a matter of helping them to kind of do it slowly, support them, they'll get stable. They're pretty nimble, you would be surprised, and that's really going to help them master it.
That's everything I have for you today. I would love for you to head over to godiaperfree.com/263 and answer our prompt for this episode: Is your little one obsessed with getting up onto the big potty? How did you help them master it? How did you, or how are you, helping them master it?
Thanks so much for joining me again for this last episode of 2023. Next year, which is next week, we're going to start a series on elimination communication for new parents, so make sure you tune in for that one, especially if you're pregnant or even if you just have a little wee baby and you're thinking of doing EC. Thank you so much again for joining me today on the podcast, this year on the podcast. It's really been a great one. Happy New Year everyone. Hope your celebrations are wonderful and joyful, and we will see you next time.
Want to catch your first pee today? Grab Andrea's free easy start guide and do just that. It's only one page and it will change your world. Get it at godiaperfree.com/start. We'll see you next time.
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 12 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)