The thought of potty training twins is often very daunting. My friends used to say ‘it is hard enough to get one potty trained, how will you do two at the same time?’. I had no idea where to start! I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I was secretly hoping my daughters would wake up one day and got to the toilet….But they didn’t!
Where to start?
There are many books on potty training but few giving advice on potty training twins. Whilst the approach can be largely the same as for a single child, the logistics are slightly different. Some of my twin mum friends decided to go down the route of letting nature take its course. They gradually encouraged the kids to go to the potty or/and toilet. Whilst this eventually works, it can take a long time. The organised person in myself just wanted to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. So I started by reading various articles on when and how to potty train to get a general idea of how to approach it. Eventually I decided to follow the ‘oh crap potty training’ method by Jamie Glowacki. The book is quite wordy but answers most questions you may have although it is largely designed for single child potty training so I had to adapt it. You can buy her book here: Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right
Here are some of the general ‘clues’ on potty training twins ‘readiness’:
your twins walk and run well
Your twins are become uncomfortable with wet or soiled nappies
Your twins are showing an interest in other adults or kids who are going to the toilet
Are starting to pull their trousers, underwear or other clothes down by themselves
What do you need for Potty training Twins?
Once both your twins have achieved the required level of readiness, you need to get yourself a little organised and get a few things ordered:
A Potty for every bathroom or regularly spaced around accommodation
Loose clothing (ie. not leggings, it needs to be baggy)
So ‘why do I need a travel potty’? The reason is quite simple. In the first few months after the training ,the urge to ‘go’ will be strong and the ability to ‘hold it’ will be very weak. So when you are travelling around in the car with no services nearby or walking around town with no restaurant or coffee shop to dive into, the travel potty is a very convenient thing to have. It is also much more comfortable for your child than to be lifted up. Personally I liked the travel potties with bag inserts.
Potties or toilet seats?
You will need to start with potties simply because they will get to it faster to begin with and risk fewer accidents. Every accident has a negative impact on the child so it is best to set them up for success. You do not necessarily need to have two potties in every bathroom but you will need at least one and I would certainly suggest two separate ones in the bedroom in the first few months after training. They will not have time to run to the bathroom and may want to go both at the same time (certainly my girls seemed to enjoy a little tandem toilet time…). The most comfortable potties and toilet rings were from Baby Bjorn ones although admittedly not the cheapest. You can also add toilet rings on every toilet as they gradually move away from the potty. My girls liked themed toilet rings such as Disney Frozen (Disney Cars for boys) such as these: Disney Baby Frozen Anna & Elsa Toilet Training Seat and Disney Baby Cars 2 Toilet Training Seat & Double Step Stool Combo – Lightning McQueen – Red. You want to make the whole process a bit of fun! I found my girls were so happy when they had a themed toilet seat.
The next big thing you need to organise is:
3 full days with absolutely nothing in the calendar
A sitter or helper who can help you full time on the 3 days
Lots of wine to drink after your twins’ bedtime since you will be quite tired and will deserve it!
Day 1 of your 3 day potty training will consist of the following tasks:
Keeping your twins naked or at least bottoms off in a reasonably self contained room with lots of toys and several potties
You and your helper will each focus on just one twin and look out for ‘signs’ that they need to ‘go’ (you may want to give them lots to drink) – signs include facial expressions, wiggling and other funny moves. Each twin usually has a ‘tell’ and you need to spot what that is
Everytime your twin shows signs of needing to go to the potty you must run, grab them and put them on the potty. Make sure you explain to them why they are being put there. If they ‘go’, make sure to praise them profusely!
Do not despair if the first few times you catch the sign too late and some of the pee ends up on the floor – the key is to still get there to get some in the potty!
After a few times of this activity they will usually get the hang of it and start running towards the potty themselves. The key in all this is to not tell them off if they have accidents and to praise them lots if they go on the potty. For you the key is to concentrate and not miss any ‘events’
For night time you can put the nappies back on, but be sure to explain that the reason they still have nappies at night is because they are still learning about going to the potty
After day 1 which is by far the hardest and most tiring, day 2 will be more of the same with lots of re-enforcing, praising and hopefully gaining some consistency. On day 3 you can put some clothes on (although without underwear and with very loose trousers or a skirt). The idea behind not wearing underwear is that this can sometimes remind them of nappies and result in going backwards.
what comes after the 3 days?
After your twins have mastered the basics of going to the potty when they ‘need to go’, the rest is about your consistency and not reverting back to daytime nappies, no matter what! If they go to nursery, let them go without nappies and bring lots of change of clothes (avoid underwear for at least a week). Don’t do long trips out of the house where bathrooms are hard to find. Basically you need to set them up for success and every day that passes will improve their ability to ‘hold it’. You will have accidents (always have lots of clothes changes with you!) at the beginning, especially in ‘new’ and exciting environments but this is completely normal. When they do, just re-enforce the message. Don’t scold but be firm.
What about night time?
Jamie Glowacki suggest a similar approach to the nightime training as the daytime, I personally could not face getting up several times at night for each twin so i decided to let nature take its course for the night. Once they are uncomfortable with daytime soiling of clothes they eventually dislike it at night. One of my twins took her nappies off herself at 3 years old, the other one at 3.5 years old. Please remember that both daytime and nightime accidents will continue for some time (until 4 or 4.5 years old). For nightime, once the nappies are off you therefore need to make sure you have an adequate mattress cover for the bed such as this one: Clevamama Waterproof Mattress Protector Single (90×190 cm) – Fitted, Brushed Cotton