Should you pause potty training if your child is ill?

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January is the second most popular time for potty training after the summer months. It makes sense to get potty training completed before the summer months, especially if children are starting pre school or nursery later in the year. The downside of potty training in the depths of winter is that very often children get struck down with viruses at this time of year, and then you have the dilemma of whether or not to persevere with training.

Potty training is essentially a new habit and skill that requires a change in behaviour. Even as adults it can take time and effort to change a behaviour that is engrained in us. Have you ever bought a new car with the indicators on the opposite side and spent the first five minutes of every journey turning the windscreen wipers on? It takes a while and lots of practise to unlearn and relearn even the simplest of behaviour. Potty training is quite hard to master as children need to unlearn weeing in a nappy and remember to get to the toilet before the behaviour that needs to be changed is triggered for getting to the toilet (doing a wee). It’s tricky to explain that never mind actually do it! Practise is the only way to master potty training and in the early stages it will take focus and concentration too.

If your child is under the weather there is a good chance they will be tired and groggy and not sleeping or eating well. This makes it extra difficult to focus on learning the new skill.

Accidents are therefore common during periods of illness, often simply because children can forget to listen to their body’s signals that they need to go to the toilet. The worst case scenario is that your child has lots of accidents and gets upset by these, which can then put them off potty training altogether.

We normally say once you remove the nappy keep it off, however if you child is ill and having accidents, it’s perfectly acceptable and sensible to let them wear a nappy until they are better. It’s also a good idea to explain to your child that you are putting them back in nappies while they are poorly, and that potty training will resume once they feel better.

An alternative solution is to put a Dry Like Me pad inside grown up pants. This will help catch accidents (the original pad holds 90ml and the Early Days & Night Time each hold 180ml). This stops any confusion or risk of the child taking a backward step or wanting to stay in nappies after the illness. Dry Like Me are available from our online shop or on Amazon.

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