I first wrote this post for SG Parents of Twins and Triplets Facebook community and I am just re-sharing it on my blog due to demand for information. It is written based on partnering with about 14 other mums who used this method specifically to train their twins and triplets. The article below covers how we adapted Jamie Glowacki’s method for multiples, and how we worked around toilet-training issues that were unique to twins and triplets. Please do not re-share/re-post this article without my permission.
Hello everyone, I have decided to end our multiples toilet-training group-chat. After successfully toilet-training my 26-month old toddler and again, the second time with my 22-month old triplets using the 3-day method, people kept asking me for toilet-training advice so I formed a mummies chat-group to make it easier for me. The group has since expanded to about 14 parents and its been at least 1-2 years since many of us had to think about potty-training. So before we lose our memories on our experience toilet-training multiples, I decided to gather all our experiences in toilet-training and put it in one document. We have been using Jamie Glowacki’s 3-day method but her book does not deal with multiples and there are some aspects of it that we had to tweak to suit our multiples situation. So we decided to compile it all here for your reference.
3-day method how does it work?
The 3 day method was conceived by Jamie Glowacki in her book, Oh crap potty-training: Everything modern parents need to know to do it once and do it right. The book can easily be borrowed from NLB. People who have not read the book or read websites espousing the method in detail often have misconceived notions what the 3-day method means. They expect it to be a miracle transition where the child can suddenly go from diaper to diaperless without any accident in 3 days.
Actually the 3-day method is really more of a mental transition for the child to get used to the idea of going diaperless, and re-learning how to eliminate without the security of a diaper. This means that during this 3-day period, for the first time, they suddenly develop an awareness of what happens when they eliminate, and it is a process for them to learn a new big skill: responding to their urges to pee and poop and getting to the potty at the right time. It seems so natural and simple for an adult. But this is something a toddler has never needed to figure out when they are wearing diapers. Developing this awareness is crucial in successfully helping a child on their way toward independent toileting. This is reason why during the 3-day period, the parent is encouraged to remove the diaper and never re-introduce it again, lest it confuses the child from developing that keen awareness that if we don’t get to the potty, an accident happens, and that isn’t a good feeling to have.
Before embarking on the 3-day method, there are some things to take note of:
- The child demonstrates readiness and is comfortable with the potty/toilet-bowl. They should also have the motor skills to remove their bottoms effortlessly and put it back on without help. This is to ensure that during training when there is no adult present, they are able to go to the potty independently, without relying on an adult to help them.
- Do not embark on potty-training if there are major disruptions about to happen like starting preschool, an introduction of a new sibling or moving homes. Potty-training should be carried out during a period where there are no major dramatic changes to the child’s environment.
- A child who wakes up with a heavy diaper is not indicative of whether they are ready to be night-trained. Children who demonstrate dry diapers for a few naps and bedtimes consecutively are easiest to night-train. However, those that don’t can still be trained but it will take longer. For this reason, it is important to night-wean and bottle-wean the child before potty-training and also, invest in a good quality bed protector to take care of night incidents.
- Is your child weaned off milk bottles and night feedings? If they are not, postpone potty-training till they are because children who still chug on bottles and feed throughout the night will for sure have frequent accidents and inevitably, wet their beds.
- Has your child successfully transitioned from the cot to regular beds? If they are still sleeping in cots, its best to postpone till they are moved to regular beds. This is because the child needs to be able to get up and access the potty, or got to the toilet at night when they feel they need to pee or poop in the middle of sleep, or upon waking up.
- Is the child’s preschool supportive of potty-training? Unsupportive preschool teachers would cause major regressions in potty-training. But you also have to take note that success in being potty-trained at home does NOT translate immediately to successful potty-training at school. You can expect the 3-day period to be extended for preschool-going kids who also need to re-adapt to going diaperless at school, even if they have extremely supportive preschool teachers. This is because the school toilet is different to the one at home and it might take some time to getting used to. Also, they are used to learning the potty with a parent and they might also need adjustment of having a teacher bring them to the toilet instead.
- Jamie Glowacki recommends the best window for potty-training to be between 22-26 months. Potty-training before ages 22 months would be more challenging because the child might be too young, and potty-training after 26 months could be just as challenging because the child starts developing a strong attachment to their diaper. This is just a vague guideline. Of course its possible to start earlier or later but be prepared for challenges or struggles.
- Start with the toilet-bowl or the potty? This is a matter of personal choice but a potty is easier for the child to get to during the training period. During the initial period of going diaperless, they are just learning to control their bladders and consolidate their pees, so having a potty that can be moved around wherever they go is easier for the child. This is especially so at night when they are groggy and unable to get to the toilet quick enough from the bed. It is simpler to put a potty next to their bed-side. Also, a potty allows them to have both feet on the ground and this gives some toddlers a feeling of security. Alternatively, a child toilet-seat plus stool in front of the toilet would also do the trick. Perhaps see what your child is comfortable with and prefers and go with that.
- Prepare the child in advance: read to them books about going to the toilet/potty. Let them know that on so and so weekend, we are going to say goodbye to our diapers.
- Make sure that every single family member who is involved with caregiving is on the same page. For those with visiting grandparents, its best to postpone these visits until the child is successfully potty-trained. Any interference can cause upset or regression in potty-training.
- There is no difference to what kind of twin or triplet gender combo you have. Boy-girl twins and triplets can be trained simultaneously.
- You can choose to train your multiples one by one but we found it more efficient to train them at the same time and getting it over and done with. Training together also means having a sibling they can mimic or companion to go to the potty together, and this mirroring can be helpful. Other times, it can be a hindrance if one child feels their sibling is doing a better job than they are. So once again, this is also a personal choice.
Once you covered all of your bases and know if you and your child is ready, choose a long weekend starting from Thursday or Friday right up to Sunday to start on the 3-day method. Remember to do the ritual of saying goodbye diapers with the child so that they have closure with this phase of their life and about to embark on a new one and reassure the child that you are with them and supporting them in every step of the way.
Do not make the mistake of introducing underwear or trainers immediately after removing the diaper. Anything that hugs the private parts like a diaper is discouraged because it will seem like a diaper-replacement. It is preferable to go bottomless (with top on) during the first day. For parents who are uncomfortable with this, you can give the child very, very loose shorts. Prepare in advance, lots of clean towels to wipe messes and a mop and bucket ready for major accidents.
Encourage the child to go to the potty every 30 minutes to 1 hour so that they can practice eliminating and getting comfortable with the potty. Accidents typically happen when the child is engrossed with an activity, whether it is eating, playing or watching television, and they have forgotten that they don’t have their diapers on. Be supportive when they make accidents, let them know that this is perfectly normal and that you will help them clean their accidents and we will try again the next time. It is helpful to have the child involved in cleaning after their own accidents to show direct consequence to having accidents. The more hits the child makes in the potty, the more comfortable and confident they get with going to the potty.
Ensure that liquids are restricted an hour or two before nap-time and bedtime and that they have tried to pee before sleeping. Get to the child the moment they are arousing from sleep because they would have full bladders ready to burst if they don’t get to the potty quick enough.
The first day is often the hardest because you have to supervise the child closely so do not schedule anything else on the first day so that you can be there for your child 100 percent.
Note: for boys, you can show them how to hold down their penis while sitting on the potty. At a later time when they get used to the potty, get dad involved on how to pee standing up.
Be very alert to when the child stirs or fusses mid-sleep or start arousing in the morning. They have just gone the whole night for the first time without peeing and their bladders are bursting. Try to get to the child before they wake and help them to the potty.
The rest of the day is exactly same as Day 1 but try reducing the amount of prompting to the child to go the potty and observe if they are able to go the potty independently. It is also normal if the child is having more accidents on Day 2 and 3 than Day 1. This is not an indication that you need to stop potty-training, it just means the child is learning. Although the more typical scenario for day 2 to have a lot less accidents than day 1.
Exactly the same as Day 1 and 2, except this time, really try not to prompt the child to go to the toilet. Also, you can start introducing to them loose bottoms or shorts. For some children, the introduction of a bottom can cause mild regression but for others not really. Typically, by Day 3, the child should be able to go to the potty without prompting. There might still be accidents, but they should be rare. If frequent accidents continue, reflect on what you think that is so? If you are uncertain, extend the 3-day training to another 3 days.
Day 3 is also the perfect time to practice going to the toilet outdoors. A lot of parents express fear of going diaperless outdoors but those who have gone through this will tell you that this is by far the easiest task to do. Make sure the child has eliminated at least once before heading out. Prepare the child that outdoors there is no potties and let them know that they will be using toilet-bowls if they need to go. Wherever you go, make sure there is a public toilet facility nearby. Practice going to the toilet at least once or twice. It is preferable after day 3 to keep practicing with outdoor toilets whether it is in public places or at a relative’s home to get them used to toileting outside the comfort of their own homes.
After day 3, for preschool-going children, depends on how they fare at school, it is possible that the training will continue. But generally for all children who have completed the 3-day successfully, you can still expect accidents to continue though the frequency lessens with time. So do not express disappointment if they have accidents after the 3 days. It is perfectly normal.
A note on night-training
It is best to allow the child to self-learn getting up from bed to go to the potty on their own. It is really not a good idea to wake a child mid-sleep to force them to go the potty. Disturbing a child mid-sleep and twins who would cry and wake another no less, would translate to regressions in the day-time due to crankiness from disturbed sleep the night before. However, if you see the child stirring during sleep, you can gentle get them up and accompany them to the potty. Accidents tend to happen usually at the first signs of waking up when they forgot they are not wearing a diaper. These habits of responding to their urge to pee really takes a while to develop. Some children get it almost immediately, others need time to familiarise themselves with the strange feeling during sleep and also the habit to get up and pee. Children do get better and better at holding their bladders during sleep and it is important though that you set them up for success by restricting liquids 1 to 2 hours before naptime and bedtime. If they had a lot to drink just before sleep, it is certainly unavoidable that they would wet their beds. So take note of their drinking before sleep and if they really had too much to drink, try to get to them before they fully wake up to help them to the potty.
How to know when a child is indeed successfully trained?
It really varies from child to child. We had children who were ready immediately after the 3 days, having zero accidents in the day, night and outdoors, and also children who only stopped having accidents 1 to 2 months after the 3 days. You should, however, see a general pattern of declining frequency of accidents as time passes. The bladder generally gets better and better at consolidating pees and the child gets more skilful at controlling their bladders with time. Some children are able to do this immediately, while others need time to train their bladders to get better at consolidation and regulation.
The important thing is not to re-introduce the diaper and to persist and troubleshoot to understand why the child might be having regressions. There might be events in the child’s life that is causing regressions like falling ill or changes in preschool teachers. Have understanding that this is a big skill for them to learn and they need the time, patience and support to do it successfully. After at least 2 to 3 weeks of potty-training, you can go shopping with your child for an underwear. Let them choose an underwear that they like. And give it to them as a graduation present for getting over this milestone. About 1 to 3 months after the 3-day method, or sooner for children who are comfortable with public toilets, you can easily ditch the potties and transition directly to normal toilet-bowls fixed with child-toilet seats and step-stools.
For children who have real difficulty going to outdoor toilets. It is good to invest in a portable potty. We believe that these children are not comfortable with having their legs dangle from the toilet-bowl seat and they need to have their feet firmly on the ground. So a portable potty would solve the problem. A good portable potty is the Oxo tot portable foldable potty: http://www.pupsikstudio.com/oxo-tot-2-in-1-go-potty-for-travel-3-colours.html
We encourage you to read Jamie Glowacki’s book – don’t worry its an easy read. Or at the very least, read detailed websites. Here are also a few key articles that provides great detail on how to troubleshoot potty-training problems: