Sunday, August 27, 2006

Potty Training Dilemma: Training pants

My friend's daughter is the same age as my little boy. My friend starting the potty training process months ago-- several months before I started with my son. Her daughter progressed nicely, using the potty when she needed to with very few accidents. She gets to wear Dora the Explorer underpants during the day and knows to tell her mommy when he has to go to the potty. At night her mother puts one of those disposable training pants on her-- just in case she has an accident. I find this to be odd. The child doesn't have accidents during the day-- she is fully trained at age 3. But her older brother, who is 4 and a half, also uses training pants during the overnight hours. I just don't get it.

Imagine my friend's surprise the other day when I handed her an unopened box of training pants and asked her if she wanted them. She looked at me in shock and asked me "Doesn't your son still need them?"

My son, you see, gave me some problems with the potty training. He was almost 3 years old before he even seemed to understand the concept of using the potty. Then, we had to start off with a potty seat (Fisher Price's The Royal Potty, which I highly recommend by the way). I trained him to use the potty sitting down, which caused a lot of flack from the people around me. But I always used regular underwear on my son-- both night and day. Once we stopped using diapers, there was no point in putting a diaper-like pair of training pants on him. Indeed, the few times I did do it he treated the training pants like a diaper--just wetting in them. And because the training pants are so much more expensive than diapers are, I vowed not to get too "addicted" to them. In fact, the huge unopened box of training pants that I offered to my friend were actually given to me by a neighbor, so I didn't even buy them (and this was a big $30 box).

It never ceases to amaze me how parents rely on training pants when their child is clearly potty trained. Take the case of my friend-- her son will be 5 in a few months. He goes to preschool and he uses the potty without any supervision. Yet at night eh ahs to have a Pull-UP or he will wet the bed. My 3 year old son, the boy who reluctantly began potty training just a few short months ago, usually sleeps through the night-- and he always wakes up dry. The few times he has had to go to the potty in the middle of the night he has toddled into my room and told me so. Of course, my friend with the Pull-Up addicted kids usually sends her kids to bed with a sippy cup of water-- a definite no no if you want your child to wake up dry. I usually cut of my kid's fluid consumption a couple of hours before bed time.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with training pants-- in fact, they are a great option when you're on the go and your child has an accident. I just think people tend to rely on them for far too long these days. Besides the friend I am referring to, I know of several 3, 4 and even 5 year old neighborhood children who still wear training pants to bed. Some of the parents even admit that their kids wake up dry, but they just "know" that if they take away the Pull-Ups the kid will wet the bed. How do they "know" this without giving it a try? I wonder will these kids still be wearing training pants when it's time to go to a friend's house for that first sleepover? How humiliating would that be?

If you are having trouble with potty training your child, consider going cold turkey to an all-underwear regimen. Yes, you will have to wash underwear if your child has an accident. But, in my experience anyway, the accidents are fewer and more far between. And you may just find that this is one of those occasions where it's sometimes better to have some faith in your toddler and take a chance-- he or she just may surprise you!

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