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Catie Wilkins picks the best potty-training books for kids and parents

Evelyn Waugh said, ‘You want either a first or a fourth. There is no value in anything between.’ But luckily he wasn’t talking about potty training. So I am free just to be middle-of-the-road.

I say middle because there are two mains schools of thought on potty training:

  1. Wait till your toddler is 2 or 3 and declares an interest in learning.
  2.  EC (Elimination Communication) which is when you offer the baby the potty from birth.

But I’m adding in a third or ‘middle way’ which I copied off of The Baby Whisperer.

   3. Offer the potty from nine months and try to complete by 18 months.

It’s possible that one or more of those suggestions will sound mad to you. That’s why it’s always important to remember Amy Poehler’s motto, ‘Good for her! Not for me.’ We should all just play to our strengths and live and let live etc.

But the middle-of-the-road option worked for me with my daughter, and these are the things I found useful along the way:

Potty-training books for the baby/toddler:

1. Everybody Poops – Taro Gomi

This is essentially a picture book of loads of different animals pooing (what’s not to like?) I love how this book shows that excreting is just a normal process that all living things do, without going into overly complex biology. Also, they learn about animals.

2. On My Potty – Leslie Patricelli

This follows a gender-neutral baby’s (shut up, it’s 2017) quest to learn how to use the potty. It’s really simple and straightforward and appealing. There’s a bit where the pet cat goes on the litter tray in the book, and my cat obligingly went in the litter tray in the hall at the same time we were reading it, which was very helpful.

3. Once Upon a Potty – Alona Frankel

This is my favourite ‘for girls’ version of the ‘for girls’ potty books we got. I really liked the quite scientific way this book explained everything. There’s a (simple) picture of the girl with all her body parts labelled, with a hole where wee comes out. Like the animals one, I enjoyed how normal this makes the whole process look. And it’s never too early to learn about how your body works. There's also a boy version of the book (pictured above).

4. Pip And Posy: The Little Puddle - Axel Scheffler

Not strictly a potty training book, but my daughter loves the Pip and Posy series, and I really like the shame-free way this book deals with accidents.

5. My Wee Friend

Not a book. This is a nifty sticker you put in the bottom of the potty. It looks blank but when wee hits it, the warmth makes the picture of a star appear. My daughter loves the thrill of seeing this marvellous transformation (she missed global hyper colour T-shirts in the early 90s) so she now delights in shouting ‘star!’ or ‘hello star’ after her wees.

Potty-training books for the parents

1. The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems – Tracey Hogg

This was my ‘gateway book’ to EC, where I first learned you could potty train babies earlier than what is considered average today. For example, in 1957, 92% of children were toilet trained by 18 months. But in 1961 Pampers disposable nappies were invented, which revolutionised the work of nappies and reduced rashes. Then in 1962 Dr Brazelton wrote an influential paper on ‘readiness’ advocating a ‘delayed’ start to potty training, and then started advertising Pampers. (Spurious). Now 60% of children are toilet trained by 3.

2. Nappy Free Baby – Amber Hatch

Out of every book I then read on EC, this was best all-rounder. It’s written in a straightforward, kind and scientific way and packed with very helpful, non-judgemental information. (Also it’s British not American, so everything it recommends that you might want to buy is really easy to find, rather than a treasure hunt).

Facebook Support Group:

EC UK (elimination communication, nappy free, baby-led potty training)

I didn’t find and join this until we’d basically finished the process, but it’s a really supportive and useful resource. There are lots of people on there exchanging advice about everything from regressions to UTIs and it’s lovely to know you’re not alone, and to get pretty much instant suggestions if you’re struggling.