Twins Toilet Training Tips

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This FAQ originally was intended to include only twin-specific information, but we're now in the process of expanding to include all-purpose tips and suggestions. If you have any sure-fire hints, helpful books, or great web sites, please let us know.

Frequently Asked Questions | Personal Experiences | Books and Videos

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to buy two potties?
The majority of twins list members buy two potties.
I would suggest getting 2 potties -- chances are very good, especially at the beginning, that they will both want/have to go at the same time. A little later on, if you have more than one bathroom, you can put one potty in each so that one can use the toilet and one the potty, if necessary.
But if space or money is an issue, there are families which make do with only one. Some parents also find that skipping the potty and going straight to the adaptor seat for the big toilet is easier.

I have b/g twins. How important is the deflector cup when training boys?
The most common answer: not at all. Many parents found that their boys became dependent on the deflector, and could not use a regular toilet without making quite a mess. Others found that the cup was awkward, making it difficult to get on and off. Parents of b/g twins especially found that the deflector was more trouble than it was worth. Instead of using the deflector, teach your son from the beginning how to direct the stream into the potty.

My boys are now starting to use the big toilet. Any suggestions for improving their aim?!?
Cheerios. Toss in a few Cheerios, or other cereal, and encourage them to aim for the target, not for the wall....

One of my twins practically trained herself at 24 months. Now they're almost 3, and her sister still isn't trained!
Just remember: they won't go off to college in diapers! Try not to do too much comparing, or you may run into a situation where the second twin digs in his heels to emphasize that he's different.

My twins started stripping around 19 months. I didn't mind too much, because within 2-3 weeks they were both very reliable about telling me when they needed a diaper. At 2 years, one girl decided to use the potty. It was a game for her, and as long as she was consciously "playing", she'd go in the potty. But if she was tired or too busy, she'd be less reliable. The other absolutely refused to use the potty for the longest time-- but she never had accidents. Now they're 4, and the one who was more reluctant at first is the one who was dry at night from the first time she went to bed without a diaper....
Any suggestions to keeping them dry at night?
One mother writes:

I don't know if any of these tips will help any of you, but they worked for us. Please remember that these are tips for otherwise healthy kids who have not been diagnosed with problems that would reduce a child's success at night.

  1. If your child goes potty and goes to bed around 8 pm, make plans to get up (set your alarm if necessary) around midnight to get your child up and make them go. They may protest, but make 'em, it'll save time changing sheets at 3 am.
  2. Use a waterproof mattress 'saddle.' I have two of these and they work great! They are basically a waterproof pad that tucks in on each side of the bed, and only cover the area where a child is most likely to wet. They go on *over* the sheet, so that if you do have an accident, you just whip it off and throw it in the washer or bathtub until the next day. Beats changing sheets...
  3. Make the child responsible for most of the clean-up (this is for a little older kids that already have shown that they are capable of "making" it throught the night). That sounds harsh, but it dosen't really have to be. We have told our girls that if they have an accident to take off the wet pad and their clothes and put them in the tub (it's right next to their room). We explained that we would help them if it was necessary (you know, if the button is in the back of the pjs, then obviously they'll need help), but that they should be able to do it themselves. Our children have only had a few accidents anyhow, but they do pretty much take care of it themselves.
  4. We also used the potty chairs in their room at the beginning of night training (3 years, trained by 3.25). I put the chair right next to the bed, and explained that they could use it in the middle of the night if they couldn't make it to the bathroom. It made their sucess rate high, and gave them the self-esteem to continue. We removed the potty chair once we felt that they were getting to the bathroom at night the majority of the time.
A few other things to keep in mind with night training:
  1. Many parents wait to see dry diapers in the morning as a sign that the children are ready to make it through the night. Keep in mind that some children may use the diaper just because it's there. If you think they might be ready, try one night just to see what happens.
    My twins never woke up dry, but one night we were out of pullups. We put them to bed without them, and guess what? They woke up dry, and that was that.
  2. Some kids are not ready physically until they're a little older. Whether they have smaller bladders or difficulty receiving the message that it's time to "go," they may need some extra help staying dry at night.

    If your child is still regularly wetting the bed in elementary school, check with your doctor. There are treatments available which may help. For example, there is a device available which uses an electrode in the pull-up. The wire is threaded up through the sleeve and attached to an alarm that clips on the sleeve next to the ear.

    When it senses wetness, it sets off the alam and wakes the child, therefore teaching her to listen to her body signals of when she has to potty. I know this sounds horrible, and [the child] woke up the first night very startled. BUT, after one month, she was completely cured!

    Your child may also respond well to medication:

    I had also heard of this electrode thing, but just didn't like the idea, no matter how tested and safe. My daughter was still having night time problems... and what we found at about 7.5 yrs old was a product called DDAVP, it is a nasal spray that worked wonders, it was like a miracle. She was practically cured over night, and we were able to wean her off the drug. ...

Personal Experiences

From: Kathy Lynch:
I just wanted to let you know that my 5 y.o. b/g twins Meghan and Kenny trained a year apart. Meghan was a little over two years old when she became very interested and was converted. Kenny was definitely NOT interested at that point and was never bothered that she had this new skill. When Kenny was a little over three years old, he decided it was time. In both cases the training was relatively easy because the kids wanted to learn. There were a few times in that year (and even now because Kenny is still wearing a pull-up at night) that Meghan tried to prove her superiority to Kenny by pointing out her lack of diapers. My response has always been that "everybody is different and we all learn things at different times", usually throwing in some examples of things that Kenny had mastered first. Usually puts Meg in her place.
Good luck!
From: Mary Foley:
If your children are ready to be trained: can understand and are willing to follow verbal instructions along with the capability of recognizing the signs/urges -- the most important part of potty training is parental grit :-)

Seriously, until we (Jim and I) made a commitment ourselves to train the boys, we met with several failures. Our New Years resolution (we made only one this year) was to NOT buy another bag of diapers. And, we didn't.

We put out a huge pile of "big boy pants" and a laundry basket. If they had an accident, they changed themselves. We stayed home until they were completely trained, which took roughly 3 days. They got sick of changing their clothes pretty quickly and did not like to be wet.

We tried little potty chairs along with a cushioned seat for the grown-up potty. The boys chose the seat.

From: Nancy:
Have a "TREAT" handy on the back of the toilet so they see it when they go in. When they "go" the get an immediate treat (yes, on the potty), but only IF they "go".

Do not ask them IF they have to go, "it's time to go potty NOW".

From: Terri Hauk:
We had a single potty chair that we started putting out when the girls were around 20 months. Using advice I got from this list, we soon bought another--a different brand (Gerry) which turned out to be much less leaky than the first (Safety First), though the first also poses as a stepstool which we are still using for toothbrushing and handwashing in the bathroom. It's easier to have one for each child, IMHO.

Maya went first after watching a 4 yr old friend pee on the big toilet at her 2nd birthday party (the weekend before her actual birthday). She seemed fascinated by the whole process and decided early on that she wanted to sit on the potty seat from her chair on the 'big toilet'.

On her birthday, she pooped on a big toilet for the first time! Kelyn was having no problems with peeing but did *not* want to poop in the potty chair for anything. We asked often if they wanted to go to the potty but didn't push it very hard. *Lots* of praise and hugs. Within a month we were pretty safe with underwear during the days and diapers at night. Another 2 months later, Dad's work schedule changed and we got a new sitter and Maya regressed significantly.

Several accidents and Kelyn's continued reluctance to poop made us just drop the whole thing. We left one potty chair out and began using diapers more often. The potty didn't get used for about 2 months.

Then it was spring, warm weather, naked butts. I carried the potty chair and a roll of paper to the backyard with us when swimming, playing in the sandbox, etc. They seemed ready to try again and we followed their lead. We used *lots* of praise when they did their duty and made sure to call grandma or uncle now and then to tell them all about it! Kelyn was still reluctant to poop. Maya wanted to use the big toilet again--especially when we were out at strange places (grocery store, drug store, the port-o-john at the park, etc.) :-P!

We had been renting various videos from the library about potty training. We finally purchased one--"It's Potty Time!" because it was the only one we found that had 'live action' real kids, instead of animated cartoon characters. This seemed to make a difference to Kelyn and Maya. There are lots of songs, the story revolves around a boy's 4th birthday party, all the basics of wiping, washing hands afterwards, etc. are covered pretty tactfully (well, maybe excepting the 'Super-Duper Pooper' song :) --it was one of K&M's favorites for over a year (way past when they were potty-trained)!

We also decided to use a sticker chart for motivation. They both like horses so we cut the shape of a horse in poster board and drew a line down the center; Kelyn got one side and Maya the other. We let them pick out the stickers that they wanted. They got one sticker for pee and 2 for poop. The chart hung in the bathroom and we made a big deal out of putting the sticker(s) on each time there was success on the potty. They got to pick out a 'prize' when they got 10 stickers, next time 15, then 20 (the goal got further away each time). This worked quite well for us! We were back to underwear (oh, Simba and Pooh were the popular characters here :) during the day (or nothing at all) and eventually shed the diapers at night too.

The real clincher for getting Kelyn to poop on the potty was a pair of pink cowgirl boots. She saw these one night while we were out shopping and *had* to have them. (She was about 2.8 years then). We said that if she pooped on the potty 5 times and got 10 stickers, then she could have the boots. That did it! She was motivated! She never had an accident and was completely dry and clean, day and night, within a week! Maya was still having trouble at night and didn't stay completely dry until she was just over 3. And she was the one we thought was going to be trained by 2.25 years old!

Different kids are motivated by different things but over all, I think the child just has to be 'ready'--not just physically and verbally, but emotionally, too. Another one of those things where you do what works for you and your family--there's not one 'method' that's more right but there are ways that I believe are wrong that can make the whole process longer and more torturous for all involved (pressure, punishment, ridicule, derision). And specifically, with twins, it helps to resist the temptation to compare or to say 'be a big boy like your brother', etc. Good luck and happy potty training!

From: Jean:
Here's some things I've found helpful:
Video: "It's Potty Time"
Potty Seat: "Cushy Tushy" - A cushioned insert that goes on top of the regular toilet. Ours had looney tune characters on it.
Light weight stool - A must
Underwear - We found that pull-ups confused our kids. So I bought some Winnie the Pooh, & Cinderella underwear.
For our son - Standing worked much better than sitting.
For our daughter - Dresses
Most important PATIENCE. Don't rush the kids, they will do it when they are ready.

Potty training books and videos for Kids

Books for Parents

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