• Jemma

Oh crap


We’ve done it – she’s In pants! Not just any pants but unicorns and flamingos don’t you know. I’ve been chatting about the ups and downs of the potty training journey over on my Instagram so thought I’d share the key things I learnt along the way. If you are thinking of attempting potty training or have just started this might be one for you.


I decided to give it a go as we had two weeks over the summer where Liv was between childcare and we didn’t have any major plans in the diary. So it seems like as good a time as any, she was the ‘right’ age (27 months) and I knew we were likely to be housebound, so the sunshine helped.

What I learnt during this journey was pretty much the recurring lesson in my parenting life, just trust your gut! It’s amazing how much you instinctively know as mummy. I read the gentle potty training book by Sarah Ockwell-smith and took on board lots of the advice from this. But to be honest I didn’t follow it word for word. The best part for me, which was the same when I learnt about birth, was understanding how your (their) body works. Getting to grips with how we produce urine and stools and how much is normal at different stages in life really made me look at it differently. She was showing all the signs to be ready, telling me when she was going, wanting to be a big girl etc and I knew if she wanted to do it, she could.

We’ve had a potty hanging around the house for a couple of months, one thing the book tells you not to do interestingly and I did end up getting her a new one which she chose. Infact that’s my first preparation tip:

  • Let them choose the potty – make it part of the journey. Rather than having one around and occasionally asking if they want to use it (advice I was given initially). I found it better to draw a line in the sand and just do it. No half-hearted attempts, discuss it with them a day or two before hand and then on Monday or which ever day you choose, you start from the moment they wake up. A mistake I made was buying a nice grey functional potty, when I know my pink crazed daughter will want the most girly thing imaginable and I ended up getting her a new one which she was excited about using.

  • Make shopping for the pants exciting - I did however let her decide on her pants, we had a trip to Sainsbury’s and she choose the ones she wanted to wear. I decided to go cheap, cheap as I knew if she pooed in them I would be throwing them in the bin rather than scraping it out. We had an adventure, brought the pants and had coffee and cake in the café making it a day out for her.

  • Read books and watch cartoons about using a potty - We had read books about potty’s, and the night before we sat down to watch Princess Polly’s potty, (I’ve linked to YouTube) this got her really excited and was my first clue that I’d be ditching the stylish potty and buying the tackiest thing she could find. We also read the poo book on a regular basis to make doing number 2’s a bit easier. I’ve included my book recommendations below

  • Reward – We used the Potty Training academy pack which had everything in it for us. The stickers are a huge hit and our originally sticker chart went out of the window. Some people say not to reward with chocolate or at all, and so many people had told me to have the chocolate buttons at the ready. I decided to do it with chocolate stars and we adapted the rewards as time went on which I’ll discuss later.


On the Monday morning, we got up and she was very excited about the big girls pants, some books say to go straight for naked bums, but I think letting them have some accidents in the knickers is actually a good thing as they learn about the discomfort.

Day 1, was true to word 90% on the floor or pants and 10% in the potty but it was all fun and games still.

Day 2, was better with at least the 60/40 ratio, but she decided most the time just not to go – eek! When she wet herself she was so upset it was heart breaking to watch.

Day 3, was the hardest for me. After a few days copped up inside with two kids I was starting to go stir crazy, poor Rory was constantly ripped off the boob mid feed to run her to the potty and she hadn’t done a poo in two days. I was at the brink of giving up and trying again in a few months. I knew deep down that she was intelligent enough to get it and was choosing not to. In hindsight, I think she was testing me to see if I was really serious about this. We were still at the 60/40 ratio and I felt like it would never end.

Day 4, DONE! She literally woke up and just did it. No accidents, telling me when she needed to go and even did a poo. Something clicked! We had a friend over (mainly to bring me wine) and she had one accident whilst she was playing which is quite common.

From day 5, we braved going out, we took our Carry Potty with us and she was brilliant. I almost wondered why I was so afraid to take her out before. We went to the supermarket and that evening the pub.

Day 6, was the park and also out for Sunday lunch. I breathed a sign of relief and was truly proud of my little lady.

Things I found useful for potty training:


  • Invest in a travel potty - more so that you feel confident leaving the house than anything. We’ve only needed to use ours a handful of times, but those times it was an emergency (poo at a playground anyone?) and being able to shut the lid and deal with it at home was great. She also loves carrying it about.

  • Follow your child's cues – a few people had told me to ask her every 20 mins if she needed to go to the loo. The Gentle potty training book contradicted this and suggested it being like your yoga teachers calling you every 20mins to ask if you were stressed and needed to use your calm breathing. With my child the latter was true, every time I asked she wouldn’t go. However, 5 mins later she’s do it alone, she wanted to be responsible for her toilet use, not told when to go. Though I do ask her to go before we leave the house, or before bedtime etc.

  • Bribe vs reward – you can look at the chocolate treat both ways. At first, I used it as one star for any potty use, but we then progressed this. She received 2 chocolate stars for going when we were out and about, and three for a poo (this has now changed to a little present to reduce chocolate consumption and the star for a wee at home has gone)

  • It’s not yucky – one thing that we’ve had to change in our house is that no poo or wee is yucky, its normal and it’s fine. We have to say goodbye to it when it’s flushed away and trust me it’s hard not to gag when scraping a poo out of the potty but needs must. Luckily she's decided on her own to move on to the actual toilet pretty quickly - thank God!

  • Poos are hard – it’s quite common for your child to struggle with doing a poo on the potty (how would you feel being watched). Don’t put pressure on them, we found a brilliant flap book all about poo and what it is, different animals and where it goes etc. Letting her understand it has really helped and yes, I have had to go a few times in front of her to show it’s normal and everyone does it.

It’s a tough week, but it’s a week….. and if it’s taking longer maybe thing about taking a break and trying again at a later date. One thing I always say about labour is, it’s a day… and just think about the reward at the end. That really helps to get you through it. Do the same with toilet training, oh and make sure you have gin in stock – lots!


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Tel: 07889813575

I teach hypnobirthing  & take on doula clients in  Chelsea, Fulham, Kensington, Notting Hill, Richmond, Twickenham, Clapham, Wandsworth, Chiswick, and Surrey areas

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