Inside: The low down on how to teach your child to wipe their bottom, why you shouldn’t be wiping back to front and how to wipe from front to back. Whether you are toilet training your toddler or want to teach your older child, this post will teach you how to teach your child to wipe their bottom.
I Need Help Wiping!
“Mummy! Mummy! Mummy! I’ve finished!”
Yells my 6 year old son, his bottom waving in the air like a peachy balloon.
In contrast, my 3 year old banishes me from the room muttering “I do it myself”.
I dread opening the door to find he’s used an entire roll of toilet paper and smeared the walls and toilet with poo. Not far off but I’ll spare you the details.
He even likes to wipe his willy after he’s done a wee. I’m sure that’s not normal but it is cute and a habit I’m not going to discourage!
Teaching your child how to wipe their bottom may be one of the less glamorous tasks of parenting and potty training but it’s essential and important to teach it correctly.
Teach them to Wipe When You Potty Train
Right from the word go, you need to teach your kids how to wipe their bottoms.
- Take a few sheets of toilet paper. You might like to use the specially soft and moist varieties to begin with but I’ve only ever used normal toilet paper.
- Teach them how much toilet paper they need. If you’ve got an enthusiastic child who unravels an entire roll each time, a great tip is to put a little mark on the wall so that they know how much to use. Use tape if you don’t want to mark your wall permanently. Or just tell them how many squares to use.
- Fold the paper into an appropriate wad. (I know it seems obvious but I’ve seen my kids try with just one sheet. Ugh!)
- Girls need to wipe from front to back. This is SO important to prevent urinary tract infections. You don’t want all those poo germs that hang around their bottom being spread towards their vulva (where the wee comes out.) This is true for ALL girls of any age. You can dab and keep the paper in one place if you prefer.
- Use toilet paper only once. Don’t use the same piece of paper to wipe more than once. Throw it down the toilet!
- Make sure they’re clean. This is the bit that many kids struggle with but it’s an essential step. Once they’ve got the hang of wiping themselves, you can do a “check” to make sure there aren’t any skid marks!
- Pull up pants.
- Wash hands with soap and dry with a clean towel. “My don’t want to” complains my 3 year old. It is frustrating that toddlers are so resistant to doing mundane things but washing your hands after going to the toilet stops germs from spreading and prevents us from getting sick. Kids (and adults) need to wash their hands after going to the toilet. Yes, even men. ;)
Related: Help! My Toddler Won’t Eat
Related: Letting Go of Anger Podcast Episode with Dr Orlena
How to Wipe After Pooping
- Wipe your poo-ey bottom first! Wipe from the front to the back until all the brown ponky stuff has gone.
- Then if you’re a girl (or a boy who likes to wipe their willy) you can deal with the wee. Dab or wipe from front to back so that you don’t spread poo germs around.
What’s Different Between Girls Wiping and Boys?
It’s a question of anatomy! If germs manage to track along your urethra (the tube that drains out of your bladder) they will reach your bladder where wee is stored. Normally there are no bugs in your bladder. When your bladder gets bugs in it, you become unwell with a urinary tract infection or “wee infection”.
The distance that the bugs need to travel in girls is very short.
The distance the bugs need to travel in boys is longer. The bugs need to go up the length of their willy before they reach the bladder.
The size of a boy’s willy depends on their age and size but it will always be at least a cm, even in a baby.
So it’s much easier for girls to get a UTI from not wiping properly than for boys to get one. (Of course boys do get them too and they also need to wipe correctly.)
Related: Constipation and Natural Stool Softeners for Kids
What Age Should A Child Start Wiping Themselves?
All children are different. You can start teaching them as soon as you start potty training them. They can start to practise but that doesn’t mean they’ll get the hang of it straight away.
And let’s be honest, even if they do start from early on, life happens and it’s much quicker for you to do it. Especially if you have a toddler who likes to spend hours dangling their little legs, holding your hand and telling you they love you.
Toilet time is a great opportunity to grab a little one on one time but the dishes are calling and dinner is about to burn.
So, you end up wiping for them and then find you have a 6 year old who can hardly wipe their own bottom.
How Can I Encourage My Older Child to Wipe their Bottom?
It may be that your older child never properly learnt to wipe their bottom, or it may be that they are going through potty training regression. Normally potty training regression is just one of those things, occasionally there is a reason to worry about potty training regression.
Either way, stay calm and positive.
- Give them positive encouragement. They need to want to do it by themselves. You know they are capable, they just need to actually do it. Build them up and tell them what a big boy or girl they are.
- Do the “check” for a while. They poo, they wipe. You check to make sure it’s sanitary!
- Reward them with lots of positive attention, hugs, claps and excitement.
They will get there in the end. Another mark that your little boy or girl is getting more independent.
Another thing to add to the long list of things that they can do all by themselves.
Related: How to Stop Kids Preferring Snacks to Regular Meals
Dante Can Wipe His Own Butt!
So now when Dante has finished his business he yells
“Come and check my bottom!”
...so that that the entire neighbourhood can hear.
Luckily living in Spain means that most people won’t understand and if they did I’m sure they’d understand that I was teaching my child to wipe their own bottom.
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