Sunday, August 9, 2009

Potty Training and Diabetes

Well, those are two things I never thought I'd see grouped together... but I have some questions and I'm reaching out to the "been there, done that, and I've got the souvenir t-shirt to prove it" people who read my blog.

Those of you whose children were diagnosed young enough that they were still in diapers, how did you handle potty training? It seems that everyone I have talked to (with non-D kids) uses the candy/chocolate reward system. I'm not sure if this is advisable with Elise.

On the other hand, what is the big deal of ONE m&m (or something similar) as a reward when she goes on the potty (and that's only if she "produces")? Will that really mess up her numbers?

Or should I try something else? And if so, what else is there?

If I do try chocolate or candy, I won't be using sugar-free. That's a whole other post for a whole other day and I'm not trying to start a sugar-free debate, but my husband and I have decided that (for now), we're not going to give Elise sugar-free products.

Sooooooo, if anyone has some advice, I would love to hear it. She's showing all the signs of being ready, and we bought her a potty and some big girl underwear (how can that be... didn't I just give birth to her yesterday?). I just have no clue as to how to proceed.


  1. Yay Elise! What big girl stuff! I hardly ever used food as a reward for potty training and when I did it was like 1 or 2 chocolate chips- since those were the only consistently "sweet" things I had in the house. One or two m M&M's won't mess up a blood sugar--but would something like stickers work? At her age, an immediate reward does work best. We had trouble training our 2nd boy and we actually bought him a toy that he wanted- place it where he could see it but couldn't get it and that his motivation. It worked great- but he was nearly 3 years old at the time.
    Also- the thing that works best is to wait until they are REALLY ready! My oldest just decided one day that he was done with diapers and we had very few accidents. Eli and Mary Beth were more difficult but we got it done. Jada began to change her own diaper when she was wet (right before she was diagnosed) and then when we came home from the hospital- she was finished with diapers completely- even at night!

  2. Thanks for the info Amy... we use stickers for her shots right now and they are starting to lose their appeal.

    I'd love to do something like a chart. Use stickers to show progress, and when she reaches a certain amount she gets to go to the store and pick out a toy. But like you were saying about the immediate reward, I think she's too young to understand the concept yet.

  3. So exciting! Addison has been showing interest in the potty for a while. His interest comes and goes but we try to encourage him whenever he does seem interested. We don't use any kind of reward system. We give him diaper free time around the house and make sure the training potty is close by. We keep our training potty right next to the adult toilet in the house most of the time and try and bring him in when we use it and encourage him to go at the same time. We do our best to make it fun and low key so he doesn't feel pressure to do something he isn't ready for. This helps a lot. We have had virtually no accidents during our diaper free times. I think it is important to follow her cues and let her lead when she is ready with lots of positive words of encouragement along the way. There is a great book with a very helpful section on potty training called "Becoming the Parent You Want to Be" by Laura Davis & Janis Keyser.

  4. I used the "Dr. Phil" method (don't know if he really invented it, but he talked about it on his show years ago). . . having the Potty Party. Taking a day to focus on potty training, and every time they go, making a huge, huge deal of it, streamers, noise blowers, confetti, whatever. He says it trains most kids in one day (one really concentrated day). I don't know about that, but it does help. Also, when she's ready to make the transition, to keep in underwear and not go back and forth during the day with pull-ups has helped to. (Helped for potty training quickness, not necessarily for your sanity when they have accidents while you are out.)

  5. First things first, give it a shot, but if she is not ready, accept defeat and wait until she is. Diabetic little ones usually train later, (but of course I am talking strickly from the boy side of things :)

    We bought a toy that was new in the box and told them when they did their thing they could play with it. The next morning it would be back in the box and was theirs to take out if they did their thing again. Once they did #2 they were officially allowed to keep the toy. (Man, I make it sound so easy!)

    Good luck, You'll find the right way to do it. Like everthing else in life, it's not easy but worth it. :)

    And remember, it is sometimes sosooooo hard for them to be dry at night. Night times are just a different thing, especially after a pizza dinner or something.

  6. Put on the panties!!!! WOOHOO!!!! Seriously, that's my advice. Take off the diapers and have her help you put them in the trash (obviously, you can take them out to save for next time -- the the idea is for her to understand that the diapers are gone.) Then put on some pretty panties and tell her to let you know when she needs to go.

    That's really important. If you ask her, she might not really know what you're asking. When you want to check in, remind her to tell you when she needs to go -- this gives her the control that toddlers are often seeking.

    Be prepared not to leave the house and don't freak out when there's an accident. Just say "Yuck. Potty in the panties. Yuck." So she understands. Whatever you do, don't lose your cool!!!

    We use a special toy for a reward. For Maya it was a few little cars. We actually call them the potty cars!!! After success, she would get them for 30 - 60 minutes and then it was time to put them away again.

    As for pull ups, I'm not a fan. I feel like they make the entire process really drawn out. I say put on the panties and don't look back :)

    I waited until everyone was dry for 3 mornings straight before I did panties at night. We did panties during naps from the get go, but they had to go potty before going down.

    Keep us posted!!!!

  7. Hi Joanne! Thanks for contacting me, and we'd be pleased to have you add us to your blog list. I will do the same.

    We used Reese's Pieces for Lainey's reward. I don't recall it playing havoc with sugars. I think I figured that it's a 1/2 carb per piece.

  8. Hi Joanne,

    I really like how you tie in parenting tips with informing others of diabetes in children. Congrats on the potty training! I'm Hua, the director of Wellsphere's HealthBlogger Network, a network of over 2,000 of the best health writers on the web (including doctors, nurses, healthy living professionals, and expert patients). I think your blog would be a great addition to the Network and within the diabetes community, and I'd like to invite you to learn more about it and apply to join at Once approved by our Chief Medical Officer, your posts will be republished on Wellsphere where they will be available to over 5 million monthly visitors who come to the site looking for health information and support. There’s no cost and no extra work for you! The HealthBlogger page ( provides details about participation, but if you have any questions please feel free to email me at



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