How to Dress for Success
by Sue Marquette Poremba
For children who are in diapers full time, cute toddler outfits are just fine, but when a child begins potty training, it’s time to put them in the back of the closet or give them to the local thrift shop. When it comes to potty training, simple and easy-to-use clothes outrank cute and adorable.
Go Against Fashion Trends
Parents quickly learn that while it might be nice for their child to be the fashionable kid in the neighborhood, most of these clothes aren’t practical. The best clothes a child can wear during the potty training process are the ones that are easiest to take off quickly. Many parents and experts suggest that little girls wear dresses, and in cooler weather, sweat pants are a favorite choice for potty training children.
“Kids tend to wait until the last minute to go to the potty,” says Cindy Buchanan of Columbian, Ala., a mother of two. “If they have a lot of trouble getting the hooks and latches and buttons on overalls undone they will wet themselves before they get it all taken off.” Even her daughter, who is in first grade, refuses to wear overalls or any outfit that is too complicated to take off quickly.
If It Is Easy, They Will Go
Children of all ages should be encouraged to pee between eight and 10 times a day, says MiChelle Passamaneck, a pediatric and urology nurse practitioner at the University of Colorado Denver Health Services Center. “However, most children think using the bathroom is a waste of time,” she says. “The harder it is for them to take off their clothes, the harder it is to get them to use the bathroom on their own.” Furthermore, according to Passamaneck, infrequent urination or “holding it” for long periods of time can lead to bladder or kidney problems.
Children should wear clothes that can be easily dropped to the ankles or kicked off completely so the knees can be spread apart, which makes peeing much easier and more comfortable, says Passamaneck. “Tights and leggings are the hardest to get off, and little girls rarely push them down far enough when going to the bathroom,” she adds.
Tips for Dressing
Keep these tips in mind when dressing your child for potty training success:
- Less is best. “When I [worked on potty training with] my twin girls, it was best accomplished by wearing nothing for several hours in the morning,” says Tracy Rasmussen of Pottsville, Penn. Buchanan agrees. “If we’re at home and no one is there or coming over, the kids can run around in their T-shirts and undies. When they are first learning, you know they are going to have accidents, so that is only one little garment to change.”
- Gradually expand the time wearing underwear. “As your child becomes more confident and comfortable wearing undies, add additional practice time until your child is wearing them all day,” says Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a psychologist and mother of four.
- Pick long pants over shorts. Jennifer Koons, a Roswell, Ga., mother of two, recommends dressing your child in long pants. “When accidents happen, the long pants absorb more and save your carpets and furniture.”
- Take advantage of warm weather. It is easier for both the child and parent when there are fewer clothes involved.
- Take a test run. Parents shouldn’t assume their child knows how to put on or take off pants. With each new outfit, there should be practice time. Children will be more willing to go to the potty if they are confident they can undress with confidence.
- Dress for the occasion. Letting your children run around the house naked or in minimal stages of dress is fine if you are at home alone. At daycare or when visiting friends, children should wear elastic band pants or dresses.
- Be prepared. Accidents will happen, so be prepared. Keep one or two extra outfits and a stash of Pull-Ups® Training Pants in the car.
- Don’t forget nighttime. Potty training doesn’t end when bedtime comes. The same general rules should apply to nighttime wear: think nightgowns, two-piece pajamas with elastic bands, t-shirts or Pull-Ups® Night*Time Training Pants.