not sure whether to start potty training partial with... - ERIC

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not sure whether to start potty training partial witholding 3 year old girl?

My girl has just turned three and i am not sure whether to try and potty train her and advise is lacking for partial withholders.

We tried potty training her about 8 months ago and she was willing but we stopped as we found she just wasn't letting us know she needs a wee or poo - there were just too many accidents - she just didnt yet seem to recognise when she needed to go. She was good with wees (and sometimes poos) if we actively took her to the loo at the right time.

The trouble we have is that her poos are numerous 2-10 times per day as she actively tries to resist them by clunching her butt cheeks together, and poos come out bit by bit. We found this unmanagable as we were wasting so many knickers so we stopped with the view to try and fix the witholding first (trying to encourage drinking more in general and prune juice). She already eats lots of fruit and veg.

The witholding now seems worse so i have regrets, every day the poos are numerous with no predictable regularity. She will hide to poo, and she hates to have her nappy changed, avoiding it as long as possible and denies she's poo'd. She gets a sore bum and labia doing this and refuses cream to help. Poos are usually relatively soft, but sometimes she seems to struggle - im confused as to whether she is purely struggling to keep them in, of if they hurt. she has occasionally complained that her tummy hurts, although i dont know if this is constipation or whether its reflux (she has suffered reflux since birth and was on domperidone for 4 weeks and ranitidine until 9 months). i don't know how long she has been witholding but it is now daily issue whereas it used to be sporadic.

i took her to doctor about 6 months ago...doc couldn't feel any issue in bowels but thought she might withold as bumhole looked sore. she advised sudocream and prescribed cosmocol 1 sachet per day. we only used for couple days as her reflux flared up - i then read on the label that cosmocol can be an issue with reflux sufferers so we havent tried it since (we have also all been ill with virus after virus for months over winter, with birth of out second baby thrown in the mix so had little time to address the pooping issue).

All advise seems to say NOT to try and potty train unless witholding and/or constipation is fixed first. my question is; as we don't know route cause of her witholding, could potty training actually help? since she hates to have nappy changed and gets sore from this i wonder if vicious cycle could be broken if she at least is not weeing and sitting in a saturated poopy nappy. Or if the issue stems from her not liking the sensation of pooing in her nappy. i dont want to make things worse though, if potty training is the wrong course of action. any advise appreciated!!

sorry for waffly background - typing one handed with left hand as 4 month old sleeping in my arms!

5 Replies

We did not potty train until my daughter was 3,5, as we were trying to fix constipation and withholding... I started the potty training out of shame (I am even more ashamed to write it) because she was the last one still in nappy.... anyway, despite the fact that we are still on movicol to soften the poo, the fact that she physically sits on a toilet/potty means she does not withhold anymore and thus goes every day ( yeaaaaaaah) i don’t dont know if it is a solution for you, but it worked well for us. But then she was older and it was not stressful. Whatever you decide good luck xxx


Thank you for responding :) we just started cosmocol as she was starting to complain of tummy I’m seeing if this works and will combine it with casual approach to using the potty if she chooses.

Can I ask whether you tell your daughter about the movicol? I tried it once before and hid it in her drinks and always felt guilty about that, so this time (considering she has also asked me for medicine for her tummy) I told her about it and had her mix it in the water but the taste was so gross I had to add squash and then also persuade her with a chocolate coin.. hoping there won’t be a revolt to the medicine.


We told her once and she hated it. I hid in in milk or squash or even juice. Once it is prepared you can top up the glass with whatever you want really. The taste is not as bad if the mixture is cold, i know parents prepare it in morning and leave it in fridge to give all day.

Don’t feel guilty for not telling her, whatever works !! I know for us I did not want an extra battle so we went for the easy road on that one.


So far so good - been successfully hiding it in apple juice, squash and yoghurt drink. Poo’s are nice and soft and she doesn’t seem to be able to keep them in now - the classic butt clenching pose is either gone or very short. She lets me change her nappy with very little resistance.

The only thing is that the poo’s are still fairly numerous - probably about 5-6 per day (usually bigger and softer than before but not massive like I was expecting). Did you find this? Will they reduce and regulate in time so that she has fewer but bigger ones?

I dream of the day she has 1-2 perfect pain free sausage poops per day. Lol


Aaah you are on the right path. It is a long process with steps back and progress but better to have too many poos than not enough lol

You are going to need to reduce the movicol in order to decrease the number of poos - we went up to 15 poos a day. Nightmare ! And that’s where it gets tricky. You need to reduce it slowly, i dropped one sachet every other day. It took months, and she is now on two sachets a day. Some carers/parents reduce it a teaspoon at a time. It is all guessing game.

Also try to sit her on potty about 20 min after her meal. That’s where they are the most likely to poo.

Good luck. It will take time but you’ll get there. X


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