18-24 months: Bed and Bath
This is the age to practice self-care activities like getting dressed, washing your face, hair and body, using the toilet, and brushing teeth. Until your child has mastered these skills, you'll still need to help keep her clean and clothed.
These items below offer your 18-24 month old independence and a greater chance of success in learning these skills.
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Self-Care Materials for 18-24 months
Cloth Training Underwear
When you notice that your child is starting to make the connection between "I need to relieve myself" and "I AM relieving myself", you can begin toilet learning. This happens around 18 months, sometimes as young as 12 months, and sometimes not until 30 months. Get a stash of cotton training underwear like these tiny trainers from Tiny Undies to help your child connect the feelings of urgency with the resulting wetness. (A Pull-up prevents this, and will slow down the process) I like these underwear because they are thick, plain, and uninteresting (making it less likely your child chooses to have an accident purely to wear different underwear), plus it's a mama-run small business! The trainers have extra padding for toilet learning, and the tiny undies are unpadded. Make sure to use the code TPETINYUNDIE for $5 off your order at checkout.
Hair and Body Washing
A small pitcher and mini squeeze bottles are key to mastering bath time skills. The pitcher allows a child to fully control a small amount of water, dumping on their hair or body. Smaller travel size squeeze bottles allow a toddler to "dump" ALL the soap or practice those strong squeezing muscles with just a small amount of soap.
Oh. My. These are amazing. Andrea from Tiny Undies has designed self-correcting underwear for toddlers to aid in independent dressing. Two different colored leg holes makes it easy to match left with left and right with right, the orange tabs show your thumbs where to pull up, and the bear shows you which way to put your legs through first, ensuring you put these on right-side up. These are available as padded trainers and as regular unpadded underwear. Make sure to use the code TPETINYUNDIE for $5 off your order at checkout.
A critical step in learning to use the toilet is cleaning up. When I'm working with a young friend, I will first clean any unsafe or unmanageable mess (like feces or large amounts of urine) with a pet enzyme disinfectant spray, and then encourage her to clean with her clean-up kit (remember this is about practice, not getting things actually clean). I suggest a smaller spray bottle filled with a vinegar solution, a washcloth, and a small bucket. You can also use a non-toxic spray like Mrs. Meyers.
Chair for dressing
The Me-do-it chair from Community Playthings is my favourite chair for infants and toddlers. It has a low-to the ground seat that is easy to get in and out of, and arm rests for leverage. This is a difficult chair to tip over, and scoots quite nicely as a make-shift push cart. The chair comes in two sizes: 5" and 6.5". Keep a chair like this near your toileting area and/or in your dressing area.
Child Dressing Area
Around this age your child can begin making simple clothing decisions. Design your space for success with a lower hanging bar, shelves, or baskets. Only offer choices that you can YES to (no swimsuits in winter), and keep all extras out of reach. Use a child-sized wardrobe like this one from IKEA, or adapt your bedroom closet with this Closet Maid system.
Sure, you can do toilet learning without a tiny toilet, but it will make your life so much easier if you do. This one from Baby Bjorn has a simple plain design, small size, non-skid ring, and a removable insert which is easy to clean and dump. The LOCKIG potty from IKEA has similar features and is also a good choice.