Successful toilet training for kids below 18 months.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

BabyMoo turns 2 years old in January, and no - I have not even started actively toilet training him as yet. I'd like to blame the articles that I've read which mentioned that a child will usually indicate when he's ready to go diaperless in time, and it's best to not rush things as different children respond differently to milestones, BUT I think I'm just using that as an excuse for my sheer laziness.

Lazy to clear up lest he makes a mess while in training, and lazy to train him to indicate as and when he needs to go. If my Mum is to be believed, my brother and I were fully toilet trained just past our 1st birthdays. I thought she was exaggerating, but I was proven wrong.

Last week, we were in Jakarta for a short family holiday, and I had the opportunity to meet up with my cousin's kids, two of whom are BabyMoo's age, give or take a few months. They were all diaper free, and have been since they were 12 months old during the day, and 18 months old, day and night. Apparently, it is the norm for most kids there to be fully trained before they turn two.

Curious, and utterly impressed, I asked how it had been done.

It all sounds too simple. It's just the discipline and diligence needed to undertake the training which is the challenging part. In fact, I was told that it's easier to start training them as young as possible because they are less resistant, more adaptable, and are rather 'powerless' to struggle. The moment they are able to cruise and are therefore more mobile, they are more likely able to resist, or haul themselves off the potty. Makes sense.

In a nutshell, here are the steps required.
  1. Training usually starts the moment they are able to sit up, at about 6 months.
  2. Sit baby down on the potty or toilet (with a seat adaptor) and tell him that this is where he pees, or poops. Repeat the mantra constantly.
  3. Do Step 2, every 2 hours, and sit with baby until he / she successfully does so.
By the time they are 10 - 11 months (or earlier) they will be able to successfully indicate (with words or gestures) whenever they need to go to the bathroom, either to do a fast or slow one.

Having said that - I think necessity and ease are the main reasons why toilet training is done so actively over there.

Firstly, nursing / baby rooms in malls were non-existent. Even the ladies' room do not have changing tables. Of course, with the emergence of spanking new malls and high end brands there, the rooms are a pretty common sight now, but the older malls (which the average locals go to for food and fun) are still lacking this facility. Furthermore, the toilets sometimes leave much to be desired in terms of cleanliness and space. That said, the earlier a kid is trained, the easier it will be to bring them out.

In addition, diapers are mostly imported, and thus, considerably a luxury item - going by the daily living expenses of an average family. A pack of diapers can easily feed modestly a family of four for a week. Cloth diapers is still widely used there, due to the abundance and relatively low cost of having live-in helpers.

The low cost of having live-in help is also very helpful in this case. The issue of privacy is never really a factor there, because most houses are large enough to have a separate living area away from the main house for the helpers. A helper can be had for about S$120.00, and that is for experienced ones. The price we pay for one live-in helper in Singapore - you can have five over there! There are also specialised live-in helpers for kids (nanny) who concentrate on only the kids' needs, and although they come at a slightly higher price, they are screened thoroughly, educated up to at least Secondary school, and are usually able to speak English as well. Having a nanny for the kid will also mean that many parents can thus delegate the nitty gritty back end jobs (of raising a kid) to them. There is someone to constantly see to their needs, including sitting them on the potty and waiting around for them.

Once the child is used to the routine of going only when they are seated on the potty, it will be a breeze from then on. Most kids, at this age, do not go by the virtue of understanding how something works, or how it's done. Rather, they simply go with the flow, and get used to set routines. It is very much like sleep training or feeding. Once they are used to it, it will become a given, and a daily affair.

So, BabyMoo still uses Pull-Up pants. The diaper change frequency is getting considerably less in the day, because he goes during his showers, and as he perspires easily, he usually gets a scrub 3x a day. I am not too concerned that he's yet to be trained, because as a working mum, the time I have with him is already so precious... and I don't want to have to spend a lot of it sitting with him in the toilet. His personality is such that he cannot be forced against his will - and even though he listens to reason, how do I convince him to sit on the potty in favour of free play?

I understand the boy well enough to know that with him being the way he is, it will be a matter of time before he himself decides that diapers are for babies, and wants to assert his 'big boy' image.

For now - toilet training is the least of my concerns. I'm too busy having fun with the boy whenever I can.



  1. I'm the most "nua" when it comes to toilet training, usually I will leave it to the childcare teachers to train them in the day...and when they are ready in the day time, I will start my night training slowly after than :P

  2. Ya I agree! In order to fully toilet train u need to have ALOT of patience and time! And also some kids need more time than others.. It's not healthy to force kids when they are not ready either

  3. I too think that it is best to try when the kid is ready. My girl doesn't seem ready at the moment and I'll start with her in 2013. I believe if the kid is ready it will be a very short training time needed.

  4. I tried when DinoBoy was 3yrs old and epic fail. Only able to successfully done night training when he was close to 4. So just take it slowly.

  5. My boy is turning 3 next march but he is also still on diaper. We tried putting him in briefs which he likes but refuses to go to the toilet to pee. Even if we bring him there, he will cry and refuses to do it. I think we really can't force them.

  6. With 19.5 months young girl/boy twins who go to kindy 4 days a week, I believe in consistency. Both at kindy and at home.

    Regina, you are absolutely spot on with set routines. I believe my kids thrive on it and as such we have a systematic day - there's time for play, meals/snacks, nap, bath and bedtime.

    As a working mummy, my time with the children are very precious.

    Hence I will only commence toilet training when their teachers at Kindy tell me to do so to avoid conflicting practices. Even though both my children have displayed signs of awareness and readiness about 2 months ago.

  7. What a cool mummy and you are right in that the culture and lifestyle in Indonesia make it in a way almost necessary to do training from young. Dumpling has been off diapers during day time since before 2 but night time training - am still roughing it out!!!! I shall refer to your words as mantra!



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