Toilet Training Twins

Fiona Fennessy

What are the upsides to toilet training twins? The obvious answer is no more stinky nappy changes and not having to buy 50 nappies each week. Although they are twins, they are individuals too. What if one is not ready while the other is determined to go ahead?

Over the past two months, Jack and Mia have done their business up and down our local high street; in the post office, in the ice-cream shop, in the park, everywhere except the toilet. One piece of advice that kept me from reverting back to nappies went something like "just when you are at the absolute end of your patience and about to throw in the towel, things will start to turn around". I suppose this is excellent life advice too. These testing days will all soon become part of the fabric of our family life. 

When we made the decision to stop putting both twins in nappies during the day, Jack and Mia were 2 years and 4 months old. We felt they were equally ready. We prepared them about two weeks before the planned “go-live” date. We would speak about “no more nappies”. Our eldest daughter  Charlotte was also 2 years and 4 months when she started using the toilet and was fully competent in under a week. *Full disclosure: her amazing child-minder in London did everything. We simply provided underpants and lots of encouragement. 

Top Tips:

1. Let your child be involved in picking their new underwear as an incentive. 
2. Dress them in clothes that will be easy for them to remove when using the toilet.
3. Don't get too frustrated if they don't make it to the toilet.
4. Always remember to visit the toilet before leaving home. 
5. Carry lots of extra undies and clothes, plastic bags and wipes. 

I purchased two identical potties that looked like mini toilets and had a battery operated flush handle that made a real "flushing sound”. This was perhaps a bit over the top but the novelty factor spurred them on initially to quick success. Once we needed to leave the safe surroundings of home, things unraveled and many undies were destroyed in the process. 

I had a travel potty or “potette” from our days of training (or lack thereof) with Charlotte. The seat flips out to serve as an insert on a regular toilet, or it can act as a potty with an absorbent plastic bag. This portable potty was crucial to allow us the freedom to go to playgrounds and not have to worry where the closest toilet was. We did not fancy staying at home for days on end. 

Jack and Mia attend a weekly Montessori playgroup and have done since they were 12 months old. We don’t fully follow every Montessori method at home, the teacher is incredibly knowledgeable and the twins love the independence and autonomy the class gives them. I have gleaned an enormous amount of support and information from Montessori methods. I took comfort in the reassuring Montessori message that by giving Jack and Mia the dignity and respect of using the toilet and allowing them to be more in control of their own body, we are being respectful and trusting that they know what’s best for them. 

As parents, we each had to overcome our own set of frustrations when toilet opportunities were missed. Jack and Mia began to fight against our frequent requests for them to sit on the potty. My husband and I would get very frustrated when an accident occurred, partly due to the perceived step backwards in the process. It is a better approach to simply clean up the mess and have a calm "they'll get it next time" approach. 

Jack and Mia gained bladder control quite quickly. It was harder to master number two's. I went looking for some additional resources to read about potty training and one shop assistant suggested "Ready to Go! Toilet Time". I hadn't initially considered a book for them but it was a great idea to read to Jack and Mia while they sat on the potty. It includes a guide for parents and sticker rewards chart. 

We are still working on toilet training. In our case, Jack and Mia were fairly equal in their progress. Both mastered bladder control quickly and both have yet to master their number 2's. On average, toilet training occurs around 3 years. Don't worry too much; they will do it when they are ready and not before.