Toilet Tactics Away from Home

Learning to use something besides your own familiar potty.

Early in the potty-training phase, parents need to take their child to the bathroom, help their child dress and undress, and wipe them when they're done.

But before he starts spending time away from home, you must teach him to manage entirely on his own. Here are some helpful ways to breed his bathroom independence:

Where to go: Away from home, teach your child to recognize rest room signs, and encourage him to use public bathrooms whenever necessary. Any child under the age of 5 should be accompanied by an adult when using a public restroom.

Dressing and undressing: Teach your child to pull down her pants. A boy should also learn to use his pants' fly front. To simplify these lessons, dress your child in clothes that can easily be undone without help. Elastic-waist pants or shorts are generally the most practical clothing at this age.

Wiping: Girls should be taught to wipe from front to back -- particularly after bowel movements -- because contact between feces and the urethra or vagina can lead to urinary-tract or vaginal infections.

On the go: Your child will need to learn that he'll sometimes have to use a bathroom before a long trip, even if he doesn't feel a strong need at the time. Sometimes a bathroom will not be available when it's really needed, so you may have to teach your child to urinate outdoors. This isn't a problem for boys, but little girls must learn to squat so their feet and clothing are out of the way. You can help your daughter by showing her the appropriate position and physically supporting her as she squats.

Source: Caring for Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (Bantam, 1999)

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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