If you’re in the middle of toilet training when vacation time rolls around, here’s how to maintain your toddler’s momentum:
EXPAND HIS HORIZONS Your child will have to use many different bathrooms while you’re on the road, which can be overwhelming if he’s used to a potty-chair or a special toilet at home. Help him get comfortable with variety by trying out bathrooms at friends’ houses or, say, the library several weeks before you go away, suggests Francis Rogalski, M.D., a pediatrician in Toledo. If your child balks, say, "I think it’s exciting to have a new potty," then use it yourself first.
GIVE SOME ASSISTANCE Unless he’s used to sitting on a big toilet, have your child use a portable potty seat that fits over a regular toilet at least a few weeks before you leave, then take it along. Three months before a trip to France, Kalen Holliday, of North Tarrytown, NY, introduced her 2-year-old daughter, Pierson, to a travel model. The result? "Pierson was as good about using the potty on vacation as she was at home," says Holliday.
KEEP UP YOUR ROUTINE If you normally put your toddler on the potty after he wakes and eats, do the same thing on your trip. And, to keep him motivated, praise him for being dry, says Carleton Kendrick, a family therapist in Boston.
TAKE ENFORCED BREAKS "Make a stop at a bathroom every one to one-and-a-half hours, even if your child says he doesn’t have to go," says Dr. Rogalski. Children often don’t acknowledge the urge until the very last moment — when you may be far away from a toilet.
BE PATIENT Many toddlers need a little extra time to go to the bathroom in a new setting, so get set to wait. "You may even want to read a favorite book aloud to help him relax," says Kendrick.
COME PREPARED Accidents are par for the course, since kids can have a tough time adjusting to new places and schedules. Pack extras of everything — from diapers, wipes, and underwear to shoes, socks, and pants.
If your child has repeated accidents, it’s probably best to switch strategies. Say something like, "We’ll try again at home," then put him into training pants and be done with it, says Dr. Rogalski. Chances are, when he gets back into his routine, he’ll start using the potty again.