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Toilet Training Time

I love the commercial where the cute little boy says, “Mom, mom, I went potty!” Mom smiles and is pretty pleased until she asks, “where?” The little angel points to the tub that he has just handed her and the next image is a giant bottle of Clorox slapped down on the bathroom tiles. It kind of represents what toilet training is all about. There are hits and misses along the way to success. But you better get with it because many nursery or pre-schools require this milestone before a child can enrol.

With a new baby, you probably aren’t thinking that far ahead, but it doesn’t hurt to read up on the subject while the infant is taking one of their infrequent naps. At, or before, age one, a toddler starts to recognize the need to go “potty” and as the months go by, he or she will want to do what you tell him or her on their own. They often fail, but they do like to imitate other kids, so use them when you can.

As they respond to the urge to eliminate, and they become old enough to comprehend basic language, you can discuss what is expected of them. Euphemism of course are welcome. Hence all the silly words for the natural processes. Sphincter control comes between 18 and 24 months. That is a happy acquisition for mom! Real toilet training can now ensue. As always, the kid wants to “do it myself.” Such independence comes earlier than you think!

At two and older, a potty routine should be in place. Children feel good when praised for their newfound competence. They begin to see gender differences and understand more about this vital all day function. They can graduate from their potty to the family toilet. Don’t punish a child for accidents and bedwetting as this can be traumatic. Discuss issues with your paediatrician if you feel your little one is not on schedule.

By three, the memory is growing and the bathroom routine is more ingrained. By five, you should expect bedwetting to be well over. Accidents happen when a child is distracted, so focusing on the need to go is already, even if it disrupts another activity. At preschool, peer pressure also encourages regular bathroom attendance. It is fine for parents and teachers to reward toddlers and young children for their efforts.

It should go smoothly and, believe me, everyone has to go through it. We all learned and survived all the constant fussing. Let it happen naturally and don’t force anything the child is not ready to do. If it takes a long time, so be it. Go with the flow, pun intended. You must give good instructions and be sure the child has the agility to undress themselves when approaching a toilet, junior size or regular. Boys, by the way, train a little more slowly than girls, another one of their many differences. There is nothing better than patience and humor to ease the way. You will have to devise night training as well to cover all the bases. There are things called plastic sheets for you newbies out there. All in all, if you foster a routine and good habits, everything will go as planned.

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Baby Proofing 101

You get panicky with the first baby and scurry around trying to baby proof everything you can think of. Right? It’s actually a wise idea and really a necessity, but you don’t have to go crazy day one. You can start slowly at birth and by the time the frisky tot is crawling about and getting into trouble, you are more than ready. Checklists are readily available on line, but in a nutshell, you must take care of:

  • electrical outlets, especially near the floor
  • cabinets and cupboards
  • areas such as under the sink in the kitchen and bathroom containing dangerous chemicals as in cleaning products (a tip, go green now and stop worrying)
  • wires and cables from lamps, TVs, computers, etc.
  • anything chewable or small enough to put in a tiny mouth
  • the fireplace (it absolutely must have a protective screen)
  • the swimming pool and/or Jacuzzi (the law mandates a safety fence). Even a portable pool can be deadly
  • the garage: it is an accident waiting to happen
  • the yard: look for tools lying around, sharp objects like parts of fences, weed killer, etc.

Toddlers are adventurous and will explore their environment, and well beyond it, at a very young age. Put yourself in their shoes (or should I say bare feet). They love household items that wouldn’t attract an older child. You need to put the entire family on alert, especially the first time when everyone is unfamiliar with the whole child raising enterprise. You can even get the dog into the act. I know that the smarter ones can be trained to watch out for peril when it comes to babies. You don’t have to go that far, however, but it is a big plus.

So, go out and buy those electrical outlet covers, door latches and safety catches, put away the cleaning supplies, and get real about the power of tiny feet. They can propel a lightweight around the house in no time flat. You can’t be too safe. Better to overdo it when in doubt. Get down on the ground at their eye level. What do you see? Can anything fall on a wee head like a stack of books or a tottering ashtray? Is the vacuum cleaner easy to engage? It is all potential for mayhem. Use safety gates to prohibit entry into rooms you can’t de-clutter. Recycle the ones for the dog if you like. Forget about the nice winter blaze from a wood stove. If you are a real worrywart, get a carbon monoxide detector and a couple of smoke alarms. Actually, you should have them already, new baby or not. Never, but never, leave prescription drugs around on a low table, even in a purse. Kids love to explore and colorful little pills are real eye catchers.

Now you have the basic recipe for practical baby proofing. If you think you have passed baby proofing 101, you can relax and enjoy the new family member in the refurbished context of a safe home.