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For most parents these days, some type of childcare is part of their child’s week. Whether its grandma’s house, a dayhome, full or part-time daycare or even a drop-in at the gym… so how do you potty-train while your child is in someone else’s care?
There was a time, not so long ago that daycares took some responsibility over potty-training, or even lead the process completely. Unfortunately, today’s “wait till they’re ready message” and ever larger diaper sizes has given daycares the opportunity to shirk this responsibility, and many now ask parents to keep their child in pull-ups WHILE they work on potty-training. The situation in dayhomes is not necessarily better, each providers own experiences and prejudice’s will certainly effect their willingness to assist. You might believe that your 20 month old is capable of potty-training, but does your daycare provider even think potty-training at that age is possible?
First and foremost, don’t let your daycare’s potty-training policy come as a surprise to you. I hear from SO MANY parents who say, “We potty-trained over the last week, and things have gone well. But I don’t think my daycare will let my child go commando, and he’s due back tomorrow… what should I do?” If this is you, please find a time machine and have a conversation about potty-training with your daycare well before you actually begin. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good communication between yourself and your daycare provider on this. I would go so far as to enquire about their policy as part of your daycare interviews when choosing a provider. The potty-training policy should also be included in the agreement you sign when you register your child, read it carefully and be sure to ask questions about it. Second, if the children at your daycare are segregated into different rooms based on age, be sure to ask whether they can offer the potty in the younger-age room – or at what age your child will be able to move to the older-age room if toilets are only available in that area.
Having just read the Alberta Health Services “Health and Safety Guidelines for Child Care Facilities”, I can tell you that there is nothing in there about potty-training. It does not say that your child needs to be in diapers or pull-ups or even underwear to attend daycare, so any policies to this effect will be those of the individual care center or dayhome. At the same time, daycares are responsible for maintaining a clean and safe facility and may feel that having your child in diapers will minimize the risk of children being in contact with another’s bodily fluids. It’s a fair point, but I think that there are other opportunities for keeping the childcare spaces clean, while maintaining the potty-training progress of the child. For example, having flooring surfaces that are easy to clean, paying special attention to the potty-training child for the first week or two, initiating frequent potty breaks, asking parents to provide many changes of clothes and finally, allowing children to use CLOTH training pants, if that is working well for the child (some kids really need to have nothing but pants on their bums “commando” for the first 2 to 4 weeks of potty-training in order to get the hang of it).
Some children do really well with potty-training at daycare. Others struggle a lot. This is mainly due to their individual personalities, as well as the daycare provider’s commitment to helping. In order to ensure the smoothest transition from at-home potty-training to daycare-training, I generally recommend that parents speak to BOTH their child and the daycare provider about how potty-training should be managed. For example, if there is a caregiver that your child generally responds well to, ask this person to be “in charge” of the potty training responsibilities for your child at daycare, as much as possible. This person should be the one to take your child to the potty each time, should be the one watching for your childs signals, and also paying attention to your child in case there is an accident, then calmly helping your child to potty and get cleaned-up. After your potty-training experience at home, you should have a good idea of the regular intervals that your child needs to pee, as well as any unique signals that your child gives before going. Write these down and give them to the caregiver! Once the caregiver is on-board, let your child know that all the daycare workers are there to help him stay dry, but that if he needs to “go”, he should let “Miss X” know right away, and she will take him to the bathroom. This takes away any confusion about what your child should do in this new situation.
What else can you do to help? Provide your daycare with the tools that will make things easier for your child. For example, a washable waterproof mat that they can use on the nap surface so that your child can stay diaper-free at nap time too. The same potty or toilet seat reducer that your child uses at home, if your child seems to be particular about it. And cloth training pants that will absorb a small pee if there is an accident, as well as several changes of pants and socks, just in case ;)
Here are some of my top recommendations, especially for daycare:
Hi! I'm Danielle, your friendly neighbourhood potty specialist.