So what do you do when you find yourself needing to take a long car journey with them? Do you put them back in a nappy or pull-up for the duration? Does that contradict all the messages you've been giving about their progress into big girls/boys pants and the new rule that involves only weeing on the toilet (or potty)? Will it take you a few steps backwards in the process?
If your journey is going to take longer than half an hour you need, in all cases to ALWAYS put your child on the toilet just before you leave the house and don't give them large drinks within half an hour of travelling.
You also need a toilet training travel pack as follows:
Toilet training travel pack
- Spare pants for the child (At least 2 pairs just in case!)
- A couple of nappies (not to wear - see below)
- A packet of wipes
- A handful of nappy bags
- A muslin (or two)
- A spare set of clothes. (Maybe two sets of trousers/skirts just in case)
- A potty or travel potty (optional - see below)
Travelling with a recently toilet trained child
By car. On motorways.
You are on a motorway. You aren't supposed to stop on the hard shoulder. There won't be actual toilet facilities for 43 miles!
You have two approaches on a motorway that don't include putting a nappy on your child and don't ask your child to hold it for half an hour, which may be too much of a challenge early in the training process.
1. The Special Cushion Method - This is, by far, my favourite, as you are not racing a clock to find somewhere to stop.
You take a nappy, fold it over so that the most absorbent part is upwards and the tabs etc are tucked under. Carefully fold a muslin around the nappy so that it could pass for a rectangular cushion. Hold carefully and place it on your child's car seat so the absorbent part is still upwards. Carefully ensure your child sits on top of the 'special cushion'. With them sat on top of it the cushion is placed exactly where a nappy would be if they were wearing it. If they have an accident, the worst case scenario is that their pants/trousers/skirt and the muslin all get wet.
At the next safe available opportunity you can pull over, pop the nappy/muslin/clothes into nappy bags and seal them to avoid smells, place on clean clothes and make a new cushion.
2. The Potty in the Car Method - When you need to and it's safe to, pull over onto the hard shoulder.
Girls - For young girls you may get away with staying in the car (safest). If their child seat is behind the passenger seat you have easier access to them when you turn towards your left shoulder. You can unhook their seat belt and grab that kit. Drape the muslin over the back seat behind you. Sit the potty in the middle of it. Sit the child on the potty. Allow nature to take it's course. Wipe child's bottom. You could empty the potty out of the car; it involves a tricky balancing manoeuvre where you lift the potty up, through the gap between the front two seats and onto your lap, open your car door a little, empty the potty out, shut your door. This is only really appropriate for wee wees in my view. Wipe out the potty and place all wipes in a nappy bag. Seal tight. Refasten child securely into child seat.
Boys - For young boys the approach detailed for girls above may work, but they may not be able to sit on the potty. Instead try them kneeing next to it. This gets them closer to their target.
You can also buy travel potties that include liners. This cuts out the need for clean up as you simply seal the bag once they have done.
In both cases this approach doesn't involve getting out of the car, so is probably the safest potty option.
By car. On main roads with appropriate parking but no actual toilet facilities.
3. The Potty (or Hold) Outside the Car - When you need to, pull over into appropriate parking facilities.
You can exit your vehicle, place the potty on the floor next to the car, let your child use it, then clean up as before.
Alternatively, in the absence of a potty you can hold your child a little off the ground to enable them to wee (just watch your shoes!)
In both cases I'd consider how you park when you park. What I mean is, if you park next to another car and open both front and back doors on your car, you create a small private space between your two doors to give your child a little bit of privacy.
Additionally it's easier for children to 'water grass' than to do this over concrete simply from the point of view of keeping your shoes dry and not creating rivers of wee across car parks! So parking next to a grass verge or hedge is often helpful.
So there are my methods of coping with travelling with a child that is in the early stages of toilet training, and where you don't want to revert to nappies that you have worked so hard to remove.
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Finally, a selection of potties and travel potties are below in case you need to stock up!