Ready for Underwear?


Once children are consistently using the potty they may be ready for underwear. In our experience it is common to see parents who are eager to make the switch to underwear too early. We recommend waiting until your child is consistently dry in their diaper for a week or so and consistently pooping  in the potty. It can be helpful if they are interested in underwear and asking about using underwear. Once in underwear, we don’t recommend moving back to diapers or pull ups except for naps or if your child is sick. Take your child to help you buy his underwear. Ask your child to remember to keep his underwear dry during the day. Then make the switch telling your child, “You put almost all your pee and poop in the potty during the day. I think you can wear underwear for daytime. You will still wear diapers for nap time and nighttime because it’s tricky to keep your underwear dry when you’re sleeping. What do you think?”

Your child will likely have accidents while learning to use the potty. She may try to get to the potty but accidentally pee on the floor. She may get too excited and accidentally pee in her underwear. She may just forget to go potty and have an accident. She may get nervous about using the potty at the park, a friend’s house, or even at home. This is normal. You can encourage and help her through all of these challenges.

When a child has an accident: The adult notices the child had an accident. The adult moves closer to give the child some privacy. She bends down quietly saying, “Oh no Ruby, it looks like you got some pee pee on you. You forgot you’re wearing underwear (or were too excited, whatever the case may be). Let’s get you cleaned up.” Ruby walks to the bathroom, begins taking off her clothes, and starts to cry. The adult helps a little, “You got it, you’re getting started. When your clothes are wet they can be pretty tricky to get off. It’s easy to get frustrated when you have an accident, but I’ll help you get cleaned up.” Together they remove Ruby’s clothes and the adult passes her a baby wipe, “Sometimes your legs are a little sticky after an accident.  Help me make sure you’re clean and comfortable.” Together, they get Ruby clean and the adult asks her to sit on the potty to see if there is any more pee. Ruby gets dressed and washes her hands. We do not punish children for accidents, it is handled as a mistake and we work together to help children get cleaned up.

We recommend keeping your child in a diaper for nap and night time, even when they move to underwear during the day. You can explain this to your child just like it is explained above. It is tricky to stay dry while you’re sleeping. Once your child can stay dry during their nap for 7-10 days in a row then you can ask them, “Your diaper has been dry for lots of nap times. Would you like to try wearing your underwear at nap time? Do you think you can keep it dry?” Night time potty learning often comes a little later and with a little more challenge. Some children don’t learn to stay dry at night until well into the elementary years. We recommend keeping the pressure to move out of night time diapers very low and waiting until your child is staying dry consistently. Sometimes children or parents want to move out of night time diapers sooner. Many different theories recommend waking your child to use the bathroom, limiting water before bed, and more, but we believe it’s best to just let your child learn in their own time with minimal pressure. Children will push themselves to get rid of bedtime diapers before too long.


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