The Importance of Nakedtime During Potty Training
Why going clothes-free can be a successful toileting tool
Nakedtime is one of our favorite methods to begin potty training. Basically, the idea is that you allow your child to simply be naked, but in fairly close proximity to a bathroom or potty chair, for periods of time during which (we hope) they will need to go.
To your child, it’s tons of fun, and perhaps something she/he hasn’t been able to do before. To you, it’s a fantastic teaching tool with the following benefits:
- Nakedtime is nonthreatening and passive; when you start, you don’t even have to mention that it has anything to do with going potty.
- It’s a natural introduction to toileting.
- With no clothes on, kids have, for the first time, a clear view of the physical mechanics of urination and defecation.
- You can provide immediate explanations of what’s happening, demystifying the process and breaking it down into simple, specific behaviors your child can learn one at a time.
- You, too, will have a clear view of your child’s body language, and can more closely read the signs of impending elimination.
- Without the barrier of a diaper between your child and the toilet, results can come quickly.
Nakedtime is a very useful and simple tool for parents to use to potty train. It is nonthreatening to the child, and involves no cajoling or power struggles. Because you are simply removing the barriers between your child and his or her physical elimination process, nakedtime brings out the instinctive and intuitive reactions we want our children to learn.
Nakedtime for toddlers or preschoolers demonstrates the cause and effect of the biology of the body—drinking and eating leads to digestion which triggers elimination in the form of pee and poop—and physically trains them to recognize the signs of having to go and eventually hold it until they can get to the potty.
Because they don’t have any clothes on, their attention will be focused on the mechanics of elimination and they will actually see and feel the results immediately. Getting the diaper out of the picture will help them make the connection between the urge to go, the actual act, and, at first, the cleanup. Training your child naked, as opposed to simply dressing her in clothes with underwear, also means the lesson doesn’t get entangled in clothes that are hard to pull down; you both can focus on the primary goal of getting the pee-pee into the potty.
Once your son or daughter is successful in that, you can move on to teaching everything else that goes along with it. Wet or dirty clothes are powerful motivators for your child to regularly go on the toilet, but they have to know how to do that first.
Nakedtime can be messy, but if you orchestrate it carefully, you’ll be able to avoid any permanent damage to your home. Because toilet training is something that should take place close to home, at least initially, consider allowing some nakedtime around the house, or if you have the space, in the backyard.
Now, we know some people may be nervous, for various reasons, about having a naked child running around all over the place. Perhaps you’re worried what your neighbors will say or about soiling an expensive carpet, or you feel you’ll be teaching them impolite behaviors. Regardless of the reason, if this strategy makes you at all uncomfortable, then you can amend it to be simply an extension of bath time or you can skip it all together.
Backyard nakedtime during the warm weather months is a wonderful potty-training opportunity that makes for easy cleanup, thus reducing stress for parents. Additionally, it’s fun. Get a kiddie pool and let your child fill it with the hose. Buy a party-size bottle of bubble fluid and have at it. Popsicles can drip all they want—there are no clothes to stain.
Safety during nakedtime in the backyard is paramount. We recommend shoes, to reduce the chances for injury. Choose sandals, water shoes, or something easily cleanable (even old sneakers you’re about to toss out) because they will probably get dirty during an accident.
Are your kids prone to sunburn?Sunscreen is a must on their body regardless, but if your child is very fair, you may not want to expose him to the sun during the hottest part of the day. An outgrown t-shirt may be just the trick to shade his torso, while still leaving the lower half easily accessible. (A regular or long t-shirt may get in the way and become wet.)
Is your yard splinter-free?That is, do you have a mulched area such as around a swing set where splinters could poke a sensitive area? If so, you’ll probably want to restrict nakedtime to another part of the yard. If you determine that your child can safely use a swing set during nakedtime, you’ll need to be extra vigilant about falls. Sliding would probably best be avoided, as would riding a bike.
If you hold nakedtime sessions indoors, obviously, you’re going to want to consider whether you have surfaces or carpeting you don’t want soiled under any circumstances. It’ll be best to stay out of these areas at least until you get a feel for how receptive your child will be to this potty-training technique and how quickly she’ll pick it up.
If your bathroom and kitchen are close together, you could probably figure out inventive ways to corral her during the nakedtime sessions. Be sure to take another look at how secure the babyproofing is in these tiled surface areas, because having to call Poison Control will put a serious dent in the potty training. Another option for indoor nakedtime is to simply extend bath time, perhaps as long as an hour so that it’s more likely she’ll need to go.
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