Ten ways to make potty training easy

By: Bernice Maune

It’s an exciting time as your toddler moves away from diapers to becoming more independent as potty training begins. It doesn’t have to be a fight nor a frightful experience for your child, you can make this transition fun and with less fuss by using a combination of methods to train them.

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Timing is everything

Take your time as you begin the process. Don’t rush your child or compare his growth to that of other toddlers who may have already mastered using their potty. Instead get rid of timelines and rather monitor your child’s individual growth by watching how he reacts when you mention the potty and what he does when you lay it infront of him.

Communication is key

Talk to your child about the potty and introduce it in a fun way. Make a song and dance about the potty so your toddler doesn’t view it as a menacing object.

Name the potty

Give the potty a name so that your child can bond with his potty. Calling it by name also makes it seem like it is a personable object which he can look forward to using.

Watch videos of other kids using a potty

A visual experience of seeing other kids using a potty will instil a sense of curiosity in your baby’s mind. She will want to find out how to use the potty once she sees others using it as well.

Keep a potty in all the bathrooms

Practise makes perfect, your kid will get used to seeing a potty in each bathroom and practise sitting on it.

Make a big deal of the potty

When your child uses the potty, clap or laugh to show that they have done something good. They will begin associating positive expressions with the potty which will urge them to use it more often.

Establish routine around training

Pick a time when you show your toddler the potty so that they can begin to look forward to those moments. Make it a fun time by rewarding your toddler with a treat each time.

Be open to accidents

Don’t punish your child when they have made an accident. Patience is key as you are both finding a routine around training.

Give your child space with the potty

If your toddler wants to wander off alone to explore the potty, keep an eye but don’t be too present. Watch from a distance so that your toddler is safe but still allow him to feel a sense of trust and responsibility for his potty.

Comfort training

If there are older siblings in the house, get them to help by showing your toddler how to sit on the potty so that they do not feel like they are the only ones who need training. Some toddlers may wonder why everyone else uses the toilet and they don’t. Including the family will put your child’s mind at ease during what may be a confusing time.

Tip: The American Association of Pediatricians states that potty training is the time in a child’s life when they are most vulnerable to abuse.

“That’s because the punishment doesn’t work; it actually makes it more difficult for the child to control the accidents. The parent gets more frustrated, and the punishment escalates. The situation spirals out of control, and tragedies are more likely.

In short, punishing your child for potty accidents will NOT hasten potty learning. In fact, it will lengthen the process, and it will damage your relationship with your child. Just don’t do it.”

Watch this video on potty training with your toddler

How to make learning fun for your toddler

Teach your child without them even realising that they are learning something new. You can make this a fun and interactive experience by playing around with colours, textures, smells and different toys to stimulate your child’s mind.

Parents can also take learning a step further for their toddler by being creative to make this appeal to their child. Role playing and musical toys can teach your tot the alphabet, help them build their vocabulary or teach them songs.

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Buy building toys and puzzles to help your toddler understand how to put things together, recognise patterns and to refine their motor skills.

Use colourful posters, stickers and stationery to make everything appear fun. The point is to have fun while playing so reward your child with an outing or an interactive toy after a lesson.

Another way to educate your toddler is to narrate what you are doing when cooking by telling your child what you are using to measure out the cooking oil for example and what ingredients you are using and the portions.

Parents can also use TV to teach their toddlers. Cartoon TV series Dora the Explorer is a hit with children and that’s because it is very engaging. In each episode Dora and her friends discover a new place and ask each other questions about their discoveries. This prompts your child to listen and respond, equipping them with comprehension skills.

Mokgadi Maloba, a twenty-nine year old environmental manager is mom to three-year old Kgodisho. They live in Middleburg, Mpumalanga and Kgodisho has a nanny and attends crèche full-time.

About making learning fun for her toddler, Mokgadi says she relies a lot on her son’s pre-school activities and lessons but makes it a point to read to her son every night before bed.

“This has become our evening ritual. I use it to teach him through books without it feeling formal. We read, identify pictures and discuss to the best of his understanding what the story meant.

“He also attends early reading lessons and I have a subscription to a service, Wacky Box that sends a box filled with activities and games for us to play. I prefer this because the experiences last us a month at a time and there are different themes for us to enjoy.”

Watch how to make learning fun in this video

Natural remedies to help your toddler overcome flu this winter

With lower temperatures, colds and flu can spread faster among toddlers especially when they attend crèche and preschool.

For some, natural remedies are a better option than medication to fight colds as medication can be dangerous for kids younger than six. We bring you several options to use if your toddler is fighting a viral infection;

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Let your child sleep undisturbed in a comfortable environment. Prop his head with pillows and ensure the room is well ventilated and dimly lit.

Steam it out

Use a humidifier or a cool-mist vaporiser in your child’s bedroom when she’s sleeping, resting, or playing in the room.

Give your child a warm bath in a steamy bathroom. Let a hot shower run for a few minutes before getting the tub ready. Let her play in the bath as long as she likes (supervised, of course, unless she’s old enough to be just within earshot).


Keep her hydrated by giving her water and diluted juice. Juices which are high in Vitamin C like orange juice will support her immune system.


Use methylated ointments such as peppermint and eucalyptus to rub his chest before bed. This will unblock the nostrils and throat so that he can sleep and breathe more easily during night time.


Feed your toddler chicken soup, heated until warm. This will nourish them and boost their energy levels as they recover from the flu.

Tips to get your toddler sleeping and staying put in their own bed

By: Bernice Maune

You’ve tried lullabies and fairytales but your toddler still keeps on finding their way to your bed. Before bedtime they may appear comfortable and ready to fall and stay asleep in their own bed but in the middle of the night, you find them cosying up to you.

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We’ve compiled some tips and tricks to get your child to enjoy sleeping in their own bed with the aim of creating a routine that they will come to love and enjoy and more importantly look forward to sleeping on their own bed.

If your child is afraid of the dark, place a lamp next to their bedside using a low kilowatt light bulb which will not light up the room too brightly but provides enough lighting for them to feel safe to sleep in. As time goes on, begin popping into their room to switch the lamp off with the aim of getting them accustomed to waking up with the light completely off.

Spend a few minutes tucking your child in and talking to them about their day. This will help to get their mind off being alone in the room. Wait until they have dozed off and if they sneak into your room, let them fall asleep and have a conversation about what you can do to make them feel more comfy in their own space. Be patient with your little one, they may be experiencing separation anxiety and the last thing you want to do is make them feel rejected.

Go shopping for a teddy bear or toy that will become your child’s official bed mate. Make an occasion of the experience and explain to your toddler that the cuddly toy will keep them company every night and will not go anywhere. Be clear that this is not a replacement for you but rather a stand in and that you will always be there.

Use relaxation techniques to get your child to ease their mind and calm down. Show them how to breathe in and out, lift their shoulders up and down and move their neck slowly from side to side.

Ensure that you have a set routine each day such as dinner, followed by a bath, a story and some tucking in before switching off the light or lamp. Children appreciate routine and feel safe when they have structure.

Keep crayons and paper on the side of the bed and encourage your child to draw any scary characters that they have seen in their dreams. Talk to them about what they have dreamt about and explain that dreams are normal and that sometimes there are nice dreams and nightmares. The aim is to make your child feel comfortable in their own bed, understanding that dreams are a normal occurrence of life and that each day they can look forward to a peaceful night’s rest.

Lastly keep your frustration under control. Yelling at your child will only make them feel scared and will not help them sleep better. Speak in a gentle tone, make jokes and laugh to show them that sleeping alone isn’t something to fear but to embrace as they grow older.

Weaning your toddler off breastfeeding

Your toddler loves the breast and you are struggling to make the transition to exclusively putting him on the bottle.

Firstly it is essential to note that breastfeeding is healthy and reinforces your child’s immune system as breast milk contains antibodies to fight infections and viruses.

The World Health Organisation recommends that all babies should be breastfeed until six months and gradually introduced to solids while continuing to be breastfeed for two years and in some cases until older.

However, the weaning stage is inevitable and introducing it may be a tricky transition for mothers. We’ve spoken to a mother who has ample experience in weaning her children off the breast. She shares her experience below.

Motlatso Zandberg (30) is from Alexandra in Johannesburg and now lives in the Netherlands with her family. She is a mom to three children, two boys, Khumo and Zayn aged nine and two and a four-year old girl, Hailey. She shares her experience with Parenting 101.

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Did you breastfeed all of your children?

Yes I breastfeed all three of my children but only Zayn was exclusively breastfeed. Khumo stopped himself at 8 months and it’s because he preferred the bottle. Same thing with Hailey she preferred the bottle and she stopped breastfeeding herself at 6 months or so.

Both of them had breastfeeding and bottle feeding from day 1.

How did you make the transition from breast to bottle?

My youngest, Zayn was a breast baby so when I tried to introduce the bottle he didn’t have time for that. At 14 months I weaned Zayn of the breast in 2 stages each lasting a week.

Week 1- I cut day feedings to one feeding during the day when he napped

Week 2 – I cut his night feed before bed

Week 3 – I cut his midnight feed

How did your son react to the transition?
Because he stayed with me at home – he had meltdowns when he needed the boobies and I had to be strong and not give in. I originally wanted to stop feeding him at 12 months but I didn’t, not because he couldn’t but because I also was not ready to yet.

Motlatso shares her top tips for moms looking to make the transition from breast to bottle

My tips to new moms would be yes breastfeeding your baby is the best but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Accept that and embrace the bottle.
Before you wean you baby be 100% sure you are ready no matter the baby’s age – it starts with you being emotionally and mentally prepared.
If you have any doubt about weaning then wait a bit there is no right or wrong time to wean and each child is different.
Once you choose a method of weaning stick to it completely so as not to confuse your toddler.


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