How to get started

d newborn pottyAmber with her son at three days

Spend some time observing your baby naked.

See what she does just before weeing or pooing. Little babies don’t like to soil themselves or their carers, so they will normally show some sign of discomfort. Common signals are kicking legs, sudden fussiness, popping on and off the breast, heavy breathing, grunting. Older babies may have got used to going in their nappy, but they may still make signs such as particular expression or going still. If your baby is mobile, you may prefer to have her in training pants or a cloth nappy without a cover – so you can tell when she goes

When you see her weeing or pooing, make a cue sound, for example “psssssss” or grunting. Talk to her about her bodily functions.

Hold her out

If you think you can guess when she is about to go, try holding her over a potty, bowl or the toilet. Be careful to support her head and body. Encourage an older baby to sit on the potty or toilet seat herself.

If you are not sure about reading her signals at first, don’t worry. Try holding her over a potty anyway. Good times to try are right after a nap; before, during or after a feed, when you take her out of a sling or reclined position, eg. a car seat or bouncy chair. Or simply offer her an opportunity every time you change her. It only takes a few extra seconds and if she wees, it means her nappy will stay dry for longer – maybe even until the next time you change her.

Establish the connection

The point in doing this is that you need to establish the connection between the potty (or the way you hold him) and pooing and weeing. Little babies go a lot, so it is relatively easy to catch a few wees and establish a connection. It may take a little longer with a older baby. Some older babies have, in effect, been trained to go in their nappy, so it may take a little bit of time for them to ‘unlearn’ this.

Once the connection is established, it means that when you hold her over the potty and she has a full or nearly full bladder/bowel, she will understand that this is the moment to release. It doesn’t mean that she will ‘perform’ every time you make a ‘psss’ sound. The cue may help her relax, but ultimately, she will only go when she needs to. Babies often show a strong preference for the potty. The position is much more comfortable for them as it relaxes the pelvic floor. If you offer her opportunities regularly enough, you’ll probably find that she’ll ‘save’ most of her poos for these times. She will tend to signal more and more strongly. She may even cry out angrily, if she is waiting for you to take her to the potty!

The more she practises, the stronger her pelvic floor muscles will get. Also, if she comes to expect that you will offer her the potty when she needs it, she will start to hold on that little bit longer when she needs to go. It may only take a few days for her to be able to hold her bladder for a minute or two.

How long do I need to hold him for?

With a bit of experimentation, you’ll soon find out how long you need to hold him in position or sit him on the potty. Once baby is used to the technique, you’ll probably be able to tell if he wants to do a wee in, say, 10 seconds. At first, you might need to hold baby for a little longer, but only do it for as long as you are both comfortable. Poos often take longer to come out, sometimes up to 10 minutes, if baby is on solids. You’ll soon be able to recognise when baby wants to poo, and when he is finished going.

Always listen to your baby.

If he is back-arching or crying or squirming, then he probably doesn’t need to go. Respect that and wait until a bit later.

Sometimes babies act like they don’t want to go, even when they have a full bladder. This is especially true if they are going through a developmental stage like learning to crawl, sit, stand or walk. Often you can help them relax with a toy or a song or a beaker of water. Or try using a different place. Babies often prefer to go outside too. But if he is still protesting, then listen to your baby. He may be trying to figure it out for himself.

What do I need?

You don’t need any special equipment, but a few things make BLPT easier. Find out more.