Life of 6

Toilet-training multiples: an update

I toilet-trained Livia at 26 months and the triplets at 23 months.  The reason I chose these times were completely random.  I was heavily pregnant with triplets when Livia was just a 1-year-old toddler so I waited till I gave birth and settled into a routine with triplet babies. I think the triplets were 3-month-old newborns when I decided to train Livia because her diapers were often dry during sleep. Having no guidance, I googled for information online and came across Jamie Glowacki’s 3-day method. I was incredulous because most people I know potty-trained their toddlers over a lengthy duration. Nevertheless, maybe I was high on lack of sleep from taking care of newborns, I decided to give it a go.

Amazingly, it worked.  Livia was off diapers in 3 days and when I mean off diapers, I mean during the day, during naps, during night sleep and outdoors as well. It also means getting to the potty/toilet and washing up independently. In other words once the diapers were off, it was permanently off. At the same time, we stopped involving ourselves with her toiletting habits. She was completely in-charge of her own bladder, elimination and keeping herself clean after eliminating. On our part, we ensured the potty, toilet-bowl, toilet-paper and scoops of water were within reach so she did not need our help.  The only time she asked for help was when we were at public toilets: she needed help getting on and getting off. There were intermittent accidents a month after the 3-day bootcamp, but nothing frequent, like once a week she might have been too engrossed in play and had a pee accident.  After a month, the infrequent accidents also stopped.

So 1 kid was easy even with 3 newborn triplets – it was straightforward and undramatic.

What about 3 kids growing at the same developmental rate? Can triplets be trained using the 3-day-method? IT.CAN.BE.DONE. The triplets started even earlier than Livia at 23 months and were trained in 2, rather than 3 days.  I wrote about it here.

The thing was I have gone on to help about 10 or so other parents toilet-train their multiples after I trained mine.  We all used the 3-day method and I found varying experiences across the board but more or less a 98 percent success rate.  The 2% were day-trained but not night-trained because their parents were busy/tired to deal with bedwetting so the kids continued to wear diapers for sleep.

These were the questions that came up frequently:

1. How do I know my kid is ready for toilet-training?

You can wait for them to show you they are ready (child-led), or you can train them at the right time (parent-led), or you can a do a mix of both.

The child-led method waits to see the child showing readiness and vocalising intentions on using the toilet after observing parents or older siblings using the toilet.  It typically happens anytime between 18-months-old to 48-months-old.  These signs include uneasiness about wearing a diaper, wanting to remove the diaper, asking to use the toilet/potty, staying dry during nap-time, ability to remove bottoms and underwear and putting it on and the most obvious, telling you they want to use the toilet and not wear the diaper anymore.

The parent-led method waits till the child is old enough to be trained and the child does not protest using a toilet or potty ie. he/she is comfortable sitting on a potty/toilet. Jamie Glowacki writes that most children are ready to learn to use the toilet between the ages of 20 to 30 months. An important point to note is if you train at say 20 months and you train at 30 months, there are differences in the way the toddler takes to the toilet/potty. She believes, and its been my experience as well, that the best window for toilet-training is 22 months to 26 months. You can certainly train earlier or later but it would be slightly more difficult or the process is more drawn out.

I believe though the most common experience is a mix of both.  The child is showing interest in the toilet and have a couple of clear signs of showing readiness + the parent is ready and willing to train. Both Livia and the triplets were dry at nap-times, and they were removing the diapers often because they hated the wet feeling of the diaper against their private parts, and they could vocalise ‘poo poo’ and ‘pee pee’. I was obviously ready to train because I hated diapering so I was ready to get the show on the road.

2. When my kid sleeps, his diaper is always heavy, even leaking, does it mean he is not ready to night-train?

If your child show readiness in the day-time,  they are definitely ready to train in the night-time regardless of how heavy their night diapers are. The 3-day-training is more or less a process in rewiring their brains. During these 3 days of going 100% diaperless, they learn that:

a. There is no more diaper to catch their pee and poop.

b. If they don’t get to the potty/toilet on time they will dirty themselves.

c. They have urges to pee and poop and they need to respond to them consistently to avoid an accident.

So the same applies for night-time. They need to discover that even at night they have to be responsive to their bladders because prior, with a diaper to protect, they did not need to bother at all thus, sleeping through even with a heavy diaper.

Children who remain dry during nap-times and sleep-times are typically much easier to train and less likely to bedwet.  Children with wet diapers during nap-times and sleep-times can still be trained but they need a little more effort and time because they are not used to noticing their bladder when they are drowsy or half-asleep, so they do typically wet their beds.  Regardless for both groups, you should get an extremely good bed protector to manage those night accidents.

If you are not ready to deal with night accidents, you can just focus on day-training and postpone night-training but it will mean having to face night-training again on a later date.  So for most parents I know they prefer to deal it all at one go and get it over and done with.  For those who found it difficult to get up independently at night to use the potty/toilet the bedwetting lasted from two weeks to a month (not everyday, more like twice or thrice a week).

3. Why is my kid still bed-wetting even after successful day-training?

Night-training is a little bit more complicated than day-training.  If your child is still bottle-fed or drinking tons of milk throughout the day and before sleep, they are definitely going to wet their beds. Before embarking on toilet-training it is best that the child is weaned off pacifiers and bottles and drinking milk in cups.  During the night-training phase, liquids intake after dinner has to be regulated.  For us, during the 3 day bootcamp and one month post-training, we stopped milk before sleep and only allowed sips of water one hour before bedtime. Once they were routinely showing that they could get up from sleep to go to the toilet independently, we stopped limiting liquids before bedtime.

4. We have been putting our toddler on the potty/toiletbowl since she was a baby, is she ready to be off diapers 100%?

I found that practitioners of the EC method do use less diapers overall but their child is still unable to go without diapers completely even after 1 to 2 years being put on the potty/toilet.  I found, and probably my sample size is not large enough and this is just my own opinion and nobody else’s, that they could have just waited till their kid was 2 and trained them in 3 days and got it over and done with, rather than endure a long drawn out process of removing and then putting on diapers, holding their kid up on the toilet-bowl (ouch, for one’s back and arms), and spending unnecessary hours on the potty/toilet-bowl waiting for that pee/poop to come out. At some point typically at 18 months for successful EC practitioners, the child can indeed pee on command, but for many others, the training continues.  For multiples, I think the EC method is arduous.  You will need to have a lot of help and stamina for it.  End of the day, our children are fully-trained at the same ages except I only had to endure the process for 3 days compared to 1-2 years.

5. I am afraid to go without diapers outdoors, what if I have an accident outdoors, like on the bus?

Jamie Glowacki recommends bringing the child outdoors on the 3rd or 4th day after going diaperless.  We certainly did this too and its totally not as embarrassing or difficult if there is indeed an accident.  The thing is if your child has eliminated just before going out, they are less likely to have an accident.  Accidents happen because they are chugging their water-bottles endlessly and did not visit the toilet before getting on the car or public transport.  During training, parents have to be more consistent about using the toilet before embarking on a trip: bring them to the toilet before going out, upon reaching the place, after a meal and before leaving the place.  If you have done all this and there is an off-chance an accident still happens, this is where your back-up towel and clothes come in handy.  But in my experience, going outdoors diaperless after completing the 3-day training bootcamp is the easiest task of the lot.

6. Do boys and girls train differently?

The only difference is that boys might need to learn to pee standing and on public toilets sitting if there is no urinal available.  Other than that, no, there is no difference.  Boy-girl twins can be trained at the same time.


So that is my follow-up to potty-training.  I suggest if you are ready and your child is ready, pick up Jamie Glowacki’s book to conduct the 3-day toilet-training method properly (available at NLB), or read all the entries of this excellent website certified by Jamie Glowacki.

Further reading

Oh crap! Potty training: Everything modern parents need to know to do it once and do it right.

What is the best potty training age?

What do you need to night train your toddler?

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