There are many reasons why summer is a great time to introduce potty, or to practice or solidify potty skills!
1. Go Bottomless Outdoors
The very best way for children to get in touch with the processes of elimination is for them to see it happening – in real time, in the flesh. You can then help them name it! “Oh, you are peeing.” That can be a great step even before you get the potty.
For kids already using the potty, the combo of bringing the potty outdoors during play to keep it close and not having to remove bottoms makes “making it” a lot less challenging, and you will likely have more to celebrate!
Modeling and narrating your own potty behavior for your child in the bathroom is excellent, but for boys first learning potty skills, it might be best to practice peeing sitting down – in which case it might not be the very best thing for dad to model peeing into a bush while camping. For girls, make sure your yard or deck where your little one will be has a clean blanket for sitting, and that you have a hose-off or a nightly tush-bath.
2. Check Out the Great Cloth Training Options
Starting in a cloth diaper or cloth training pant is essential to quick potty learning, because children know they are wet immediately. Pull-ups or plastic diapers cause a significant delay because the chemicals in them pull away/wick away moisture too fast.
Cloth is great in summer, because it breathes better than plastic in the heat and line-drying cloth options in the sun get them sun-bleached and smelling great.
If you haven’t used any cloth diapers until now, know that all-in-ones are easier with crawlers/walkers than pre-folds, if you decide to buy or borrow some. Still, the easiest option is to jump right into lots of basic cotton training pants (Gerber, Green Sprouts, Hannah Anderson) which are nice and light and cool for the summer.
4. Invest in a Travel Potty
Summer is great for potty-on-the-go, because pants can come down anywhere without freezing your tushy off! Many families choose travel potties that have an open hole that can go directly into the grass (hey, if dogs can do it!) and other travel potties can be emptied into the grass and cleaned out with a wipe. Poop, of course, needs to find a bathroom.
Travel potties are important for potty learning, because little ones can’t always wait in line or wait to find the nearest restroom when they are first learning. And then there is always the “ick” factor of a public restroom, tiny hands that would touch any part of the restroom, or a tush that would fall in or get scared of the flush.
For most families, a travel potty seems like it will be a lot of work and anxiety before skills are solidified. You don’t really need to do potty out of the home until your child is verbalizing or signing potty needs some of the time. (Read Get More Out of Life with Baby Signs!)
5. Make the Most of Your Family Vacation
Many of my workshop patrons and private clients ask if they should wait to start potty until after a vacation. Actually, my experience is that vacation can be the very best time for potty learning – especially for families with part or full-time childcare.
On vacation, families stick together, connect, and really focus on the kids! What a great time to practice potty when you can offer many opportunities. In the summer, cloth training pants and shorts can be very quickly washed in the sink and dried on the balcony in the sun. Of course, you need a trusty and compact travel potty. The second half of my child’s potty learning adventures happened while traveling in the summer in California and Nevada.
6. Get Familiar with the Assisted Squat
Squatting/hovering is the natural, ergonomic way for human bodies to eliminate. Still, we might not want to teach our children to walk off and squat anywhere in the yard any time. We do want to teach our newly learning child that they need to find a potty if possible. Mostly because squatting anywhere won’t have the desired outcome of having a child who knows how to find a loo. It may be hard for them to distinguish the grass from the carpet (Oops!).
However, if you start nice and young, you can easily assist your baby/tot into an assisted squat (their spine against your tummy, legs lifted into them and a bit out to the side). You can then help them pee into a public loo, the grass, or as I learned on an emergency, poop into a trash can. (Eep! Note: it is not legal or sanitary to poop into a trash can.)
In these cases I would add this to your regular potty adventures and use the word “Potty” as a verb for the squatting so that the association is made that this is the same action as going in the (noun) potty at home. For more on how healthy the squat position is, learn about the Squatty Potty Company (with whom I have designed a forth-coming little learning potty!).
6. Bring Easy Changes of Clothing
When you are doing travel potty (or even for the sake of your laundry load at home), summer potty is excellent because you can skip pants all together, or have considerably lighter weight wet clothing to wash or carry around. Your travel stash of changes of clothes in your bag will also be considerably smaller and lighter.
7. Don’t Forget Hydration
It is very important that little ones stay very hydrated when learning potty. Dehydration can easily lead to constipation. Hard poops can cause some children to associate potty with pain. Sippy cups with straws allow for the most easy flow of water, as opposed to the ones that tip and don’t spill and are also better at getting your little one hydrated than a cup. Fruit can also help prevent constipation, and there is plenty of it in summer! On the other hand, too many berries will cause diarrhea and that can also be painful. So, maybe have a limit for those!
May the Potty Force Be With You!