At the very end of the wearying journey that is potty training awaits one final challenge: the butt wipe. It may seem intuitive to you, but to a kid with a high tolerance for grossness and an urgency to get back to their toys, wiping properly is just not a priority. Teaching a kid to wipe their butt is the last battle, but it’s not going to be a simple one.
A good wipe is essential to prevent a number of uncomfortable genital bacterial infections and, in some cases, serious health complications. The uphill battle to toilet independence might be long, but here are some tips to help your child reach their clean butt potential.
Make a bathroom habits list
It’s common for a restless kid to skip some of the steps of a bathroom trip. Make it impossible to forget by posting a reminder checklist where it’s easy for them to see. You can get a printable one online (like this one) that use both words and symbols for pre-readers. Or have your child make the checklist themselves, an activity that will help them nail their routine next time.
Count toilet paper squares
Figuring out how much toilet paper they need is essential for a successful wipe. Too much will clog the toilet and waste paper. Too little will result in an insufficient wipe and, more than likely, dirty hands. The rule of thumb is to count four squares of paper or just enough to wrap around their hand twice. Then show them how to fold the paper and wipe front to back until the paper comes back streak-free.
Bust out the Nutella
This trick might permanently ruin Nutella for you but, well, it’s effective. Smear some Nutella or peanut butter, whichever you’re more willing to give up for life, onto a paper plate, and have your child wipe it off with toilet paper. This will teach them how much pressure to apply when wiping, and how many wipes they’ll need for a good clean.
Try some potty training media
There are many potty training books and kid show episodes (there’s even this video which specifically deals with the art of the wipe) that introduce the concept in a fun way kids understand. Kids can see characters demonstrating bathroom independence and feel inspired to learn.
Make a balloon butt
Stay with us, here. Shared by a genius teacher (and modified by Today’s Parent), this will familiarize the kids with the motions of the butt wipe. You’ll need two balloons, a stool, toilet paper and tape. Secure the balloons to the bottom of the stool to form butt cheeks, sit on the stool and use the toilet paper to mimic reaching around and wiping. It’s both weird, hilarious and a viral must-see moment.
Teach them to tickle their toes
Figuring out how to reach their behinds with those little arms is one of the trickiest elements of the wipe. Repeating “tickle your toes” will remind them to bend forward on the toilet until they can touch their toes. This position gives them a better reach and the space to drop the used paper in the toilet.
Invest in a bidet
When all else fails, consider a bidet, a device that connects to the toilet and uses water to clean your butt. There are no steps to remember and no complicated techniques involved. Bidets are a pricer alternative to toilet paper but they’re also a more sustainable option (and they eventually pay for themselves). This option is, of course, better suited for older kids who won’t get spooked by the water pressure — or help themselves to a drink.
And with that, you have officially wiped your hands of this one. Well done!