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Daniela Grech Sultana’s adventures in potty training will have you laughing and learning as she shares her toddler toilet tricks in our guest article.

I spent a respectable part of summer working from the bathroom floor waiting for the miraculous sound of pee hitting the smooth curves of the blue Thomas the Tank Engine potty. In the warm heat of summer, running around in her brand new Minnie Mouse panties, that sound never came. Instead, my husband and I mopped up and wiped away drink and dinner remnants from strategic locations in our apartment. Soon, we had enough and called it quits.

potty training

That was summer. It’s January and my husband and I are now proud holders of the Potty Diploma offered spontaneously by The Potty Training Institute of Toddlerland.

One very cold windy day in December, our toddler decided she didn’t want to wear a nappy anymore, asking for the aforementioned smooth-curved Thomas the Tank Engine potty instead. Having just stocked up on nappies (figuring that we’d need them until summer at the latest) and following our futile training of the past months, we were, to say the least, bewildered at this change of heart.

And that’s how, after three whole summer months of trying to coax her into using the potty, we graduated unscathed. And here’s what worked, what absolutely didn’t, and what we learnt along the way…

What Worked

  • To summarise neatly, nothing worked in our summer efforts.
  • In winter though, we were ready to jump on the potty-training wagon following her cue, regardless of my concerns that it was too cold.

What Absolutely Didn’t

  • Buying a potty I liked (not pink), without her being with me to choose it (this matters.)
  • Bringing the house down with excitement that one instance in summer when she did pee in the potty. Her look said it all that day – she was scared shitless (excuse the pun).
  • YouTube videos on potty training.
  • Promising all sorts of treats.
  • Thinking that she was ready just because we were more than ready to see the nappy go.

What We’ve Learnt

  • She’s become a huge little fan of Frozen and Minnie Mouse. It’s only now that we’re appreciating the power of little Minnies on underwear. She now INSISTS on wearing them.
  • This may sound strange, but her vocabulary blossomed these past days too – apart from potty-related words, she’s been repeating every single thing we say in Maltese and she’s stringing sentences in English. It might have been a growth spurt in general, with a no-more-nappies assertiveness packaged in.
  • The instant she wakes up from nap-time is the front-line of accidents – we’ve had a number of unfortunate incidents involving my jeans, the sofa, and the floor.
  • Whilst it seems to have happened overnight, we still get accidents, and it helps to be prepared – we pack up a change of clothes for her whenever we leave the house. I’m only not packing a change of clothes for us because we live on a 14 x 7.25km island; in my mind, it’s much easier to drive back home and change rather than think of two outfits for each adult. Also, we resorted to Frozen-themed pull ups for more longer outings but still rush to the bathroom if she so asks, regardless of the nappy.

Tips we can share as Potty Diploma holders:

  • Get your child excited about the potty and underwear – give them a role in choosing both and patiently explain their role.
  • With potty training also comes complementary vocabulary – don’t expect your toddler to know and fully understand what ‘ready’ means.
  • Invest in some training panties – Mothercare have some good ones but beware, they don’t really hold that much pee.
  • Invest in waterproof mattress protectors for their bed, your bed, and any other bed you don’t wish to be airing out on the roof/balcony.
  • Ensure that your pillows are washable – toddlers sleep in the strangest positions.
  • Train yourself in the art of remembering that your child is now nappy free –  including first thing in the morning and for the potty calls in the middle of the night.
  • The potty may very well become yet another reason for delaying bedtime – our routine now goes something like this:

*All half asleep, apart from Toddler*

Toddler: “Potty”
*Mum/Dad drags herself/himself out of bed*
Toddler on potty: “iPad”
Half asleep mum/dad: “No”
Toddler on potty: “Book”
Half asleep mum/dad: “No”
Toddler on potty: “Polish” [nail polish]Half asleep mum/dad: “NO. Ready?”
Toddler on potty: “Yes.”
*Half asleep mum/dad about to clean potty – not a single drop.*

And the number one tip:

Being fed up of buying nappies does not mean that your child is ready to forego nappies for the potty. It’s your child who will decide when they’re ready for this next milestone. Coming to terms with this will lead to a much less stressful and a far more straightforward experience all together.

Here’s to hoping she wakes up one day adamant on throwing away her gazillion dummies. A parent can always dream!

Daniela Grech Sultana is an introvert, writer, former diplomat, and – most notably – mum to a girl and a boy who love cuddles and plenty of playtime. Before motherhood sent her ‘established’ identity packing, she was writing fiction to unwind, and policies and speeches at work. Today, she is a freelance writer focused on fertility, pregnancy, parenthood and – totally unrelated – consular issues. Follow Daniela on Instagram (@faeryode) and read more from her at


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