Taming Of The Poop

Till your child is toilet-trained, you feel no qualms about discussing chhee-chhee topics in public, without even bothering as to when your companions last saw the inside of a diaper. So, that should explain the presence of this post on such a dignified forum. Kindly excuse me, please. But, my obsession with social media tells me that toilet-training is indeed one of the most important concerns bothering parents everywhere.


A friend recently messaged me asking, what I am doing to make my son go in the right place, with the exact aim and the perfect sense of time. Another is distressing over how her daughter’s potty seat had to be strategically covered with Goa’s beach sand to keep it from driving away the tourists, even as the little one insisted that here, and here alone, she will go potty (I don’t blame her. She has scenic taste, I say). And a few days back, when a friend from school shouted out to me for tips and tricks, I promised her this post.

Basically, the moment the clock strikes the 2nd year, the cuckoo comes out to say – Hey you, start worrying about the poop, before it hits the roof. Here is what I did to earn myself the ‘My kid is toilet-trained certificate’ at 2 years and 4 months. Before anything else, please remember, there is nothing in this post which can be remotely called ‘expert advice’. It is my experience of my child’s excretory system and discovering how certain sphincters have a mind of their own, which, even a parent cannot understand or tame before the right time. That right time too differs, from child-to-child and situation-to-circumstance. I will tell you what path I followed, that’s all. And I will try keeping the stink-n-sound effects away. Here goes:

For those who have just delivered their bundles, this is for you. At this stage, most of the times, it is quite predictable when the baby will do it, or do both. And they do it all too often. I kept my baby in cotton nappies till 4 months, during which time, I used to hold him from behind his knees, rest his back against my body/legs and hang him over a little bucket sacrificed for this purpose alone. So, the nappies usually remained dry and the stuff was home-delivered, where I wanted it to be. It even helped with making him do it to its entirety, since a wet nappy makes them stop short of completion, often. It also helped with getting that baby gas out and keeping Colicaid at bay.

By a few months down, I could discern signs of when he wanted to go. This is important. All children give out signs of when they need to use the toilet. You must have figured some out. Now, even after diapers were introduced, I continued the same way of “hanging” him over the flush when I caught the signal. It is not always easy to find one at hand, and especially difficult to make it to one in time. But to myself, I always imagined that there is no diaper in place, just so that I can run him to the nearest station when the train is about to arrive and not feel lazy. It helped. For as he grew up, he started using his diaper less and less, because his mind never had the concept of pee-poo absorption in his cushioned rompers. Of course, the superfast trains arrive at great speeds and then you thank Man for inventing solid diapers. But at all other times, the hanging helped.

When they start crawling, things get complicated. This one never bothered to crawl, so my carpets and durries know not what it is to be sprayed upon. But when he started standing with support, I knew that his mobility meant my mind had to march on the double to figure out nature’s phone call times. But then, a child who is over a year old is catching on to vocabulary with the speed of light. It is at this point that basic words for the toilet (both types) need to be taught. Apart from all those mushy firsts which begin with ‘mama’ and end with ‘papa’, teach opposites/associations like hot, cold, sleep, hunger, thirst, hurt and yes, poo-poo.

You will be amazed to see how early on children can learn to tell you if the bath water is too cold, or the pee-pee on its way. It helps, because vocalizing only makes things easier for later. At my end, the hanging continued. So much so, he used to wake me up at 2 am to take him pee-pee, even as daddy’s snores lulled him back to sleep in no time. Of course I cursed the bucket and the habit-of-it-all on when being woken up from my Richard Gere dreams.  But gradually, as I saw myself disposing worn but unused diapers at the end of the day or night, I felt promoted to a higher rung in the hallowed Department of Toilet Training. I was still not saving enough pocket-money, but quite pleased with the scheme of things.

Going on, once the child learns to put his mind into words, make a bee line to the potty-seat shop and get one. Start side-lining the diapers already, and remember to look for seats which are high on comfort and hygiene and low on fancy stickers. I did get one too, but it remains unused to this day. He liked to hang around, this lazy bum! Which meant that I had to get him to start sitting on the flush soon! He was growing up and my back was feeling the effect from all the hanging, especially since I always wanted to defeat the diapers at their job every time he wanted to do his, every half-hour sometimes.

When push came to shove, even as diapers remained clean, he refused the potty-seat and my back continued over-worked, it was time to fast-forward things. Here is what was done when he was, doctor-wise, ready to be trained. What follows is a weekend job I picked from a parenting site and discussed with his doctor. I had been doing all of the above for 2 years, which was my mother’s original hand-me-down wisdom and technique (and which I might get patented for its sheer ingenuity.) Perhaps, with that background, what follows worked for me:

  1. My husband and I promised ourselves a sit-in weekend. Cancelled all plans and told friends we are out-of-town.
  2. We put our son in old pajamas sans diapers, removed all things which would hate to get wet in case of accidents and simply sat around and played with him.
  3. We gave him that wee bit of extra liquids just to invite the pee-pee more often than usual.
  4. And soon as he gave us a signal, no matter how subtle the sign, we would rush him to the pot and make him do it in there, only.


By the second day, going potty was a game the family played together. And by the third day, the existence of diapers had vanished from our lives even as daddy dear went to office and mumma did the on-pot-off-pot alone. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but perhaps the idea of making a game out of toilet-training and something that 2 whole holidays revolved around helped his bum warm up to the idea of doing it the adult way. It is worth a try with your bundle too. After all, even if he does not understand the mighty benefits on his family’s savings by getting rid of those diapers, you still have had a weekend-in of playing blocks, colouring, peek-a-boo and going poo – all at the same time.

And there! The class is over. My son will never forgive me for showing him in this light. I will worry about that later. For now, I hope I have been able to drop some tips on how to train those naughty bums.  Remember, they all fall in line. We did too, once upon a time. Relax. And coming to think of it, who wouldn’t want to philosophize on the pot surrounded with golden sands and watching the sun go down? Lucky girl!

Happy Toilet Training to you!

Sakshi Nanda went from studying Literature to serving the print media and finally settling with two publishing houses who called her editor for a couple of hard-bounds, no more! She writes as a work-from-home mother to realize herself as well as to be read, both – with her 2-year-old boy and her sarkari babu beau as the greatest source of ideas and inspiration. She believes eating baby food is therapeutic and that the pen is man’s best invention, after diapers that is! Meet her at: sakshinanda.blogspot.in

  • Rajesh Thakkar

    Hey Sakshi,that was quiet a lesson…loved it…

    • I hope a good one, @rajeshthakkar:disqus Thanks for reading! 🙂

  • hey sakshi! loved this post. My son is 11 months and I have been making him go on the potty with a seat insert very casually. Today he peed in the pot 4 times in a row! so yes they learn fast!
    I also only keep him in cloth nappies at home.
    Thanks for the post!

    • Then it is a day for celebrations. 4 times in a row is huge. Wishing you many more ‘in a rows’ 😀 Thanks for stopping by, @Allee_G:disqus 🙂

  • Nischala

    Sakshi – Congrats on this achievement, Kudos for your patience and approach from the start. A “motherly salute” to you :). It is a “milestone” in parenting. When my daughter was ready, I referred to Dr. Google – and was surprised / shocked at the amount of material available. In fact Carol Cline has built a business (and made good money) promising parents this – Check @ http://nipmu.blogspot.in/2012/02/what-business-idea-how-to-potty-train.html . Also, I wondered why all web-sites claim the 3-4 day time window. Realized it is a matter of cultivating a habit. I wrote a post @ http://nipmu.blogspot.in/2012/09/can-you-really-potty-train-your-kid-in.html . Do stop by. Nischala

    • You know, it does feel like an achievement, @nischala:disqus. Especially since in my case my back-bone was no longer the ‘S’ that it is supposed to be but a ‘Z’ by now. 😛 Oh, I was shocked too. That’s why I call it the ‘Department of Toilet Training.’ 😛 I agree with you, it is a matter of cultivating a habit right from the start. That’s why I mention that the weekend game worked for me because of the 2 years that preceded it. I will read your posts now! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • Reema Sahay

    Hey Sakshi, this was just the post I needed. I started taking my son to the bathroom for peeing from 6 months onwards. I have been using diapers only outside home and at night since then. The poo-poo part hasn’t been resolved yet because my son wouldn’t agree to go on the toilet seat. I tried a few times but he would just make a show of trying, but would not really do anything. He hasn’t started telling us yet that he wants to pee either. I just take him to the bathroom every hour or so. A friend suggested I give him warm milk in the morning to go, and I am certain he would; but I don’t want to put a habit on him of going only after having milk, as you know people drink cold water / hot water etc.
    I guess, it is time for the Potty-game in my household. Thank you for the tips.

    • Poo-Poo takes longer, Reema. Since my little one usually goes constipated while teething, only the hanging helps. I am so very scared of him developing dependence on things/routines too. I just let him go when it comes. Perhaps, when school starts, they will themselves fall into place.

      If your kid is old enough, play the game for sure. 🙂 Good luck.

      • Reema Sahay

        You know, my biggest concern is that I don’t want him to end up going at school. I don’t want people touching him to clean, although so far he hasn’t ‘gone’ outside of home, even in diaper. Most of the time when we are ready to go out, he declares he has done ‘akkhh’ which is ‘yuck’, which in fact is poo-poo 🙂 In case of pee, if I ask him or take him in anticipation, he does it easily. I take him to do it even while he is napping in the afternoon. I have been doing all the prep-talk for sometime now, showing little kids on potty seats, or telling him that all grown ups ‘go’ in the bathroom, etc, etc. Now, I think, I need to do something concrete because he will start playschool around December.

        • They fall in line, Reema. You have done enough to not send him to play-school prematurely. He will be physically, mentally and emotionally ready to adopt and adapt to the ways of his new surrounding. With you working so hard with him, I am confident he’ll do great, if he isn’t already. 😀

  • Yamini Vijendran

    You always write posts on things that matter most but are talked about less, and that’s what I like most about your posts. Wish I had read about the hanging technique earlier. My son started sitting in the potty from around 8 months onwards for poo-poo, which he would normally indicate when he wanted to go. It is the peeing that he has a problem with, and continues to wet his pants if we do not take him to the toilet once an hour. We have also stopped diapers for him, since on most days he manages with zero wet pants, thanks to our time keeping and his school staff’s diligence. As he stepped over the 30 months mark, I upgraded his potty to a toilet seat, lined with his favorite ‘Thomas Train’ cushion. Now everyday he goes and sits in ‘Thomas train’ that takes him to Chennai or Nagpur or Kanyakumari or even moon on some days!

    • This hanging technique is nothing but what my naani passed down, @yaminivijendran:disqus I wonder if it will find mention in books, but it really works. Sometimes, the coolness of monsoons or the chill of winters makes the pee-pee disobedient. You are anyway doing great with your time-keeping skills. 🙂

      Thank God my son cannot read this comment. His translucent blue tacky toilet seat will be rejected by him instantly. 😛 Tomas train is one of his favourites. Thank you reading! 🙂

  • I think your post is good info for a lot of parents, Sakshi.

  • V ki Amma

    Super post Sakshi! I begin the uphill task of mastering this incredible milestone. The weekend game works!

    • Good luck, @vkiamma:disqus You’ll do wonderfully I’m sure. And V will do even better. 😉

  • Good you’re off Mission Impossible, @disqus_z6rV768TBF:disqus. It’s easier to make them learn a whole new language than get them to part with their nappies/diapers. 😛 Thanks for reading! 🙂

  • Sunita Rajwade

    A sister in law of mine had a Video which said that you should make the child say ” bye by pee pee, bye bye poo poo ” and then flush so that he has a “closure”. Needless to say this was in the US where everything becomes an issue with Freudian overtones. But personally speaking children get trained when they want to and are ready to… I heard that in the Men’s loos at Schipol airport there is a fly painted in the pot and that is where all the men aim!!!

    • Haha. I like the ‘Freudian overtones’. I wish I had this comment with me before I sent my next submission to Parentous this morning. It’s about inter-cultural parenting and this would have beautifully fitted the bill. 🙂

      Thanks for dropping by with these interesting nuggets @sunitarajwade:disqus.And yes, like I mentioned in the article above, children get trained when they want to. Those who refuse to, need flies painted on the pot even when they are men and no longer boys. 😀