How To Wipe…(and 4 More Tips For Potty Training a Daughter)

By | Bedtime, Daddy, Daughter, Development, education, Growing Up, Health, Parenting, Potty Training, Relationships, Rewards, Tips, Toddlers, Toilet Training | No Comments

potty-trainingIf you are pulling your weight as a Dad, you already know that your little princess can push out some pretty serious poo.

It’s called potty training and it isn’t for the faint of heart. Plus, when you’re teaching a young child with different “plumbing” than your own, you may feel a bit lost at times.

That’s why we spoke to Dr. Heather Wittenberg. She knows her (stuff).

Dr. Wittenberg specializes in the development of babies, toddlers, young children… and their parents. She offers no-hype, practical advice that is rooted in science and road-tested in her own home. She speaks on behalf of the Pull-Ups® brand. The doctor dropped some knowledge so you can point your little one in the right direction the next time she wants to drop a deuce.

1. Normal is what normal is…

“A lot of parents get caught up in thinking that potty training is something to accomplish or to check off of a list,” Dr. Wittenberg said. “They start putting expectations on their kids and think at certain ages they should be at X, Y, or Z.”

“Toddlerhood is when individual differences really make their first major appearance and you start to see a ton of divergences in the ‘normal’ range. There is a huge range of ‘normal’ for potty training. But you typically start seeing interest around 18 months and if your toddler isn’t well on her way to being comfortably toilet trained by four, you’d want to call in expert help.”

Whether your girl is eager to learn or afraid to go near the toilet, just don’t push to the point of resistance. It’s a process and a chance to celebrate each tiny step. Don’t wait until they have mastered it to celebrate with them.

2. Avoid this like the plague…


Some kids have a resistance to bowel movements. “There’s a cycle of withholding in some toddlers and that includes withholding their poops,” she said.

“They’ll do this for a lot of odd and uniquely toddler-ish reasons. They may imagine that poop is a part of their own body and if they get it out they are giving up part of themselves. Others might have had a bout of constipation and it hurt so bad that just the thought of going again scares them. They don’t have the logic to think ‘This may hurt but I have to get it out’ and trying to use that rationale will not work with a toddler.”

If you see any signs of constipation, you need to go full bore on any type of dietary stuff is ok with your child and pediatrician (prunes, fiber, water). “The typical American diet is terrible for this,” Dr. Wittenberg said. “Toddlers are getting to the point where they’ll only eat chicken nuggets and buttered pasta. They aren’t eating nutritionally.”

Keeping an eye on this is important. You don’t want to enter the world of suppositories and enemas. “Toddlers understandably are terrified of those things and feel are invasive. So you need to do everything you can to avoid getting to that point.”

3. What to call her genitalia…

It’s about being natural.

“What’s important to your daughter isn’t the specific language that you choose,” Dr. Wittenberg explained. “What’s important is that you feel comfortable using it. Being natural and comfortable with whatever names and conversation you have developed over the course of your relationship will allow her to feel your comfort.”

“You’ve been changing diapers all this time,” Dr. Wittenberg explained. “You’re involved with her physical body and emotional health. The transition from changing diapers to using the potty is just a natural evolution of what you’re already doing. Her language is evolving. She can obviously understand more and put words to body parts. What it comes down to is your family’s culture, personalities, and what kind of Dad you already are. Some are technical and clinical in their body part naming – others are silly with the names.”

Dr. Wittenberg stressed, “Just because Dads are a different gender than their daughter they do not need to somehow feel inadequate or incapable of having a perfectly comfortable, relaxed conversation about all manners of the potty.”

4. Clean up

(This is a tricky one for many dads who don’t have working knowledge of the parts. So pay attention…)

“I see many Moms make the same mistakes when it comes to wiping,” Wittenberg said. “Young girls are more vulnerable to a urinary tract infection because they are taking the toilet paper, reaching under to wipe their vulva and are going too far back. She’s reaching her bum and she’s pulling forward some bacteria.”

“Just have your daughter blot, in place, a couple of times right where the pee comes out when she’s done,” Wittenberg said. “She doesn’t have to get any more aggressive than that. No vigorous wiping is needed. A couple of blots with a few squares of toilet paper is plenty for pee.”

If you’re worried about seeing “white buildup” in her privates, don’t be.

“Some parents worry about vaginal discharge (white buildup) that is normally present and healthy,” she said. “That is the vagina’s ‘self cleaning’ mode and it is something to just ignore. It isn’t something that has to be cleaned out. In fact there’s a bit of a protective function there. Dads don’t have to help her get in there and try to make it visually clean. Regular bath time helps do that.”

On the back end of things, it’s just like the boys. She should wipe back and up from the rear after poops. Your role? Spot checker to make sure it’s all clear. They didn’t tell you you’d be doing that when you became a father did they?

5. Last call!

So she’s doing great during the day but is still wet at night? You might have read some advice to cut off all liquids for a certain period of time before bed. Obviously it stands to reason that you don’t want to drink a full-sized juice a couple of hours before bed but

“It’s actually a physical maturity issue,” Dr. Wittenberg said. “There is a hormone that is secreted in the brain that shuts off urine production. That hormone sometimes doesn’t develop in a child until 2 or 4 or even 7. It doesn’t matter what you do. Without that hormone, their body is not going to turn down urine production at night and you are going to have a wet bed or diaper. Once your child is ready to stay dry at night, the amount of liquid you give them before bed won’t be the main factor. And putting pressure on a child to stay dry at night doesn’t help.”

There you have it. For my daughter and me, there is an evening ritual of her grabbing her Pull-Ups® out of the drawer and holding it behind her back so I can guess which Disney character is on them. My best streak? 4 in a row. No cheating. It’s all part of the process.

Whatever it takes for you to become more comfortable as your girl’s caregiver, do it. Just make sure to enjoy the ride…even if it stinks from time to time.

Dr. Wittenberg is a Pull-Ups® Potty Training Partner She believes there is no “one size fits all” answer to most challenging parenting questions, and she is committed to help find individualized, workable solutions that help make parenting easier – and more fun! She can be found via her website ( or Twitter (@BabyShrink). She is the author of the “Let’s Get This Potty Started” book.


The Five Stages of Grief (Read: Bedtime)

By | Bedtime, Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Discipline, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Independence, Memories, Parenting, Personality, Relationships, Rules, Sleeping Habits | One Comment

707px-Crying-girl1I’m pretty sure I won the “kid lotto”. Bedtime at my house, while it may take longer than it should, is far from a battle. While she will put up a halfhearted fight, my girl knows she can only push it so far and I think she actually enjoys all of the routines we have before she hits the sack.

But for some Dads, sending their kids to bed resembles a mash up of “The Exorcist” and a Benny Hill episode.

While the Kubler-Ross model was written for the five stages of grief, Liz had know that she had nailed the nighttime ritual of any parent today.

I talked it out with a couple of other Dads and found it is really simple to associate each of the stages with a young daughter. But based on their responses, I’ve also found it applies the same for the Dads – just in a different way.

For example…

Stage One: Denial

Daughter – “It’s not late.” “It’s not dark out (see:pitch black)”
Dad – “Tonight’s routine is only going to take 20 minutes and I’m watching the playoffs.”

30 minutes later…

Stage Two: Anger

Daughter – “Nooooooooooooooo! I don’t CARE if the sun has gone to bed.” (mad face, limp body, #daggers)
Dad – “I’m an idiot. Why didn’t I upgrade to the DVR so I could record the game?”

Stage Three: Bargaining

Daughter – “What if I sit still on the couch and watch football with you” or “Just one more story” or (insert ANY thing you can think of to avoid skin touching sheets).
Dad – “Somebody put this kid on Shark Tank because I’m fairly certain she could sell ice to an Eskimo.” Then…“Let’s try the couch thing.”

Somebody didn’t hold up their end of the bargain or tried to change the terms mid-deal. The firm foot of fatherhood comes down…off to bed.

Stage Four: Depression

Daughter – “But …(whimper)… I’m (sniff)… not (sniff, sniff)… tired. (gulp) I need a tissue” (If you’re lucky, if not read: boogers on sleeves)”
Dad – “But… (whimper) is that halftime analysis (sniff)… I’m hearing in the background? (moan)”

Stage Five: Acceptance

– “I love you, Daddy..zzzzz..zzz”
Dad – “I love you too, boo.” Spend the next 10 minutes watching her sleep, kissing her, and remembering what the truly valuable things in life are.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, your “pace of life” has changed (which I’ve tried to explain for you here) but the short story is you have to plan it all out. Like way out… in advance. The days of snap decisions and impromptu desires being fulfilled are over. And even the best laid plans can get blown up. As we say around here “Life happens”.

Oh, and for Pete’s sake…get a DVR. How are you living without one?


P.S. If you’re battling every night, you should check out this book. It could help.

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The Last Thanksgiving – A Daughter’s Story

By | A Daughter's Story, Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Food, Growing Up, Memories, Quality Time, Relationships, Thanksgiving | One Comment

54cb76d69713f_-_detroit-lions-turkey-112310-xlg<Guest post from Teresa L. Thome>

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always pleasant enough, but I never quite understood what all the fuss was about.

It was a day off from school. The greatest stress involved was the cooking of the meal and that was left primarily to my mother. I suspect my oldest sister, eight years my senior, shared some of the responsibility. I’m sure she’ll let me know after she reads this. But, by and large, it was my Mom’s meal which meant we would feast on overcooked turkey, over-creamed vegetables, over-radished salad, and (surprisingly) delicious chocolate pie! (My grandma’s recipe).

This meant, for my Dad and me, Thanksgiving was more about Lion’s football and dessert than the meal itself. (Although my Dad did love turkey skin!)

As my parents aged and my siblings moved away, Thanksgiving grew even less about the food – if that could even be possible. Much like other fall days, it was a time to spend with my parents and watch the Lions with my Dad.

I vividly recall one Thanksgiving with my parents and grandparents where, as I looked around the table, I noticed that each adult had food somewhere on their face. I gagged a little. Needless to say I really started dreading Thanksgiving. It had become about aging and change. It was making me sad.

After my Mom passed, it got worse. My Dad moved into a retirement community and not wanting him to be alone on this day for families, I’d join him. By this time I was a full practicing vegetarian. While the seniors in the home dined on turkey, and my Dad the extra turkey skin he loved, they lovingly prepared me a boiled vegetarian hot dog for my protein. After a few years of that, my Dad really encouraged me to go to Detroit. “It’s just a day. Go. Go,” he would say. I went.

But after a few years spending the holiday there, I decided to once again spend Thanksgiving with my Dad. I also decided to make my grandmother’s pie.

The meal was being served at 12:30pm, which meant seating at noon and completion by 2pm. But kickoff for the game was around noon and that disappointed me. I really wanted my Dad to be able to see the whole game and I really wanted to the see the whole game with my Dad.

I arrived at 11:30am. Late arrivals always stressed my Dad, so I was unusually early this day. He was pleased. We chatted a bit.

Then I said, “Too bad kickoff is right at meal time.”

“Oh, you saw that, huh?” he said as if he didn’t want me to feel bad about missing it.

It was sweet. He knew I wanted to enjoy the game. He didn’t realize it was about enjoying the game with him. I appreciated the concern. Then I had an idea.

“Hey Dad, why don’t I run over to Meijer, grab takeout and we can just watch the game?”

“No, you don’t want to do that. You want a real meal,” he said half-heartedly.

I knew he already thought it was a great idea.

“Really, Dad? I mean the food here isn’t that great. Let’s bag it and eat in front of the TV.”

He lit up, quickly rubbing his hands together as to express excitement. Within minutes I was at Meijer and, moving as if on an episode of Amazing Race, was serving up a full meal in his apartment by kickoff.

I bought a roasted chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, biscuits, glazed carrots, creamed corn, and for the first time ever… wine! I always enjoyed that with my husband’s Italian family for Thanksgiving, but we had never had it. My Dad even wanted a glass. We sat with our TV trays for the entire game. We ate, drank and laughed. The food was decent. He was happy. I was thrilled.

When it came time for pie, I asked him how big a piece he wanted. He didn’t want any pie. He told me he never really cared for my mom’s chocolate pie. Wow. Thanksgiving wasn’t even about pie for him. Just football. I was so grateful that he got to enjoy the whole game – beginning to end.

As we said our goodbyes, he thanked me and I thanked him. I didn’t want to leave. He didn’t want it to end. We kept remarking what a lovely day it was. How grateful we were that it played out as it did. How we should do it again. I think we both hoped the day could go on forever. I know I did. For the first time I realized, truly, what the fuss was all about.

It was my last Thanksgiving with my Dad. I am forever grateful.

If you like what you’re reading, please enter your email address on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new blog goes up.  So, please subscribe if you can.  Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.

Teresa L. Thome is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fubble Entertainment. She co-writes and co-produces the Emmy® award winning web series

She and her partner are Executive Producers for LaughFest’s signature event having creatively produced shows with Betty White, Alan Zweibel, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Wayne Brady. Teresa also served as Executive Director for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for more than ten years. She has directed more than 20 theatrical productions in and around West Michigan.

She resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband, Fred Stella and two cats, Pickles and Simha. You can read more about Teresa here.


The Almighty Sticker

By | Bedtime, Daddy, Daughter, Development, Fathers and Daughters, Memories, Parenting, Rewards, Tips, Toddlers, Toilet Training | No Comments

HeartStickersRepeat after me… “All hail The Sticker: Wondrous tool of motivation, calmer of sobs, and source of hours of entertainment.”

I don’t know how people were able to parent before the invention of the sticker (maybe they painted rocks?) but I’m fairly sure they would have clamored for them if available.

I was reading a great blog from Ask Your Dad called “How to Put Our Kids to Bed – Part 175”  when I came across yet another testament to the power of the adhesive ally all adults should adore.

Here’s an abbreviated excerpt:

Before we introduced the sticker, there was a point that you could tell how the exit was going to go. It was either going to smoothly transition to hugs-and-kisses, or was going to result in yelling, and crying (by all involved), and everyone is mad and sad and please for the love of God, everyone go to sleep.

Then the sticker idea came to us. One night on a whim, right before bedtime, I ran downstairs and grabbed a piece of black card stock. I drew a crude grid, stole a sheet of stickers from Duchess’s sticker box, and proceeded to present her with the best reward system she’s seen in her three years on this planet. We told her if she went to bed nice and (more importantly), didn’t wake up her brother, she got a sticker. Enough stickers and she gets a new book for bedtime. Duchess’s mind = blown.

We all became bedtime ninjas. She started crawling to her bed like a cat (and insisting we did to). 

We lost track of how many stickers she was getting. The amount of stickers that earned a prize became arbitrary. To her, it was just about the stickers. We go back in her room sometimes and find her on the floor in front of her nightlight, ear to ear grin, staring at all the stickers she’s earned. Sure, she should be in bed. But she’s not waking up her brother. And that’s fine by me. As far as John and I are concerned, we’ve won this battle, armed only with a piece of paper and a pack of heart stickers.”

You should read the full account. It’s hilarious.

If you’re looking for someone to thank, it would be R. Stanton Avery who created the first self adhesive label in 1935. Or Sir Rowland Hill in 1839 with his stamps. Or the “sticker monster who poops them out”. All of these were answers I received when researching the question of who invented the sticker.

Regardless, I’m reminded of a very similar chart above my daughter’s toilet while we were potty training that had special ‘pee’ and ‘poo’ stickers that when accumulated would result in a prize.

Stickers are everywhere – at the doctor, the dentist, the bank, her school, the grocery store… it goes on and on. One of the games on her iPad even rewards her with digital stickers.

Stickers are a reward, a fashion accessory, and an educational tool. They hold a magical power I can only begin to understand. Tip: Put a packet of stickers next to the travel Kleenex and fruit snacks that already have a permanent place in your pocket and you’ll find there’s nothing you can’t handle.


The Pancake Master

By | Activities, Daddy, Daughter, Development, Eating Habits, Fathers and Daughters, Food, Health, Meal Time, Memories, Parenting, Relationships, Toddlers | No Comments


I am the Pancake Master.  There can be only one.

So if you’re reading this and think that you are the Pancake Master, I apologize for not letting you down easier.

My credentials are strong.

While I have no professional culinary schooling, I have watched so much Food Network television that my daughter will holler down from her bedroom for me to “Watch Alton Brown!” after I put her to bed.

I’m not making that up.

She wants to make sure I’m watching one of the 98 episodes of Good Eats (yes, 98) I have on my DVR and yells at me from her bedroom.  Someday I’ll get it on tape and send him the audio.  He may find it funny.  He may file a PPO.  It could go either way.

If that doesn’t convince you, I can also flip the flapjacks in the pan not for just one rotation but for two (and sometimes three) and catch them back in the pan.

Still not convinced?

I can make them without mix from a box.

Ahhh.  That got your attention.  Pancakes from scratch?  Go Daddy.

(Admittedly while my pancake mix is homemade, it is also straight from a recipe from Alton Brown.  I really do love that guy’s show.)

Even when I do use Bisquik, I still make the Ultimate Pancake recipe with the vanilla, egg, baking powder, etc.

I take pancakes seriously. 🙂

I know exactly how to set the heat and then alter it halfway through to get the perfect golden brown color on both sides.  I make them with fruit, chocolate, nuts, you name it.

And I sometimes make them while simultaneously frying bacon and eggs and brewing coffee.  I’m like a short order cook in my own home.  It gets seriously fun when we’ve got family over.

Jana likes them with fresh cut strawberries and fruity cream cheese in between the cakes.  Grace likes them with whipped cream and cherry pie filling on top.  I’m a classic butter and real maple syrup guy.

Ok…ok…so being a “master” at pancakes isn’t all that hard.  And I’m sure there is plenty of room at the top for numerous Dads to hold the title.  Hopefully all of this smack talk inspires you to raise your game and get in the kitchen.

Cooking for my daughter is one of my favorite things to do.  (She’s found the word “delicioso” and I know I’ve got it right when I hear that.)  If you haven’t done more than pour a bowl of cereal lately, give it a try.

You want to provide for your daughter?  This is the instant gratification version of that.  You cook it.  She eats it (and hopefully likes it).  You get to immediately reap the rewards of your labor.  There is a long list of things you are doing for her from which you won’t see a result for a while (college fund, anyone?).  So this is a quick way to feed both of you – her stomach and your goal to provide.

Now, I’ve just got to introduce her to BFD (Breakfast For Dinner).  I wonder if she’ll like quiche.


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The First Thing To Go

By | Activities, Daddy, Daughter, Development, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Health, Memories, Parenting, Play Time, Quality Time, Relationships, Toddlers | No Comments


They say your memory is the first thing to go and I think it starts at age 4.

Let me explain by asking this question: What is your first memory?

For me it was sliding on my bottom down a flight of stairs in a home I can’t even picture.  There was a birch tree out front.  There was a red-headed neighbor girl on a tricycle.  There was a corner market that sold little wax bottles of juice.  Rosa’s, I think it was called but only because I remember my sisters calling it that when I was older.

I must have been around 4 years old.  I don’t remember anything before that.  (Not even the time I climbed a ladder to the top of that house which still gives my Mom fits when she remembers it).  I guess that explains why I was a licensed skydiver for a while.

Today, I have a three year old daughter and she has this uncanny ability to remind me of things that we have done.

Remember that time the caterpillar was crawling on her finger and she liked it and then got scared of it?

Remember when we fed the ducks at that lake? 

Remember how she danced in the driveway and chanted to Mr. Moon?



Grace is reminding me off stuff that happened when she was barely two and can describe them in detail.  Her list of memories goes on and on.  I absolutely love it. Usually because when I tell her that I also remember, she says “I wanna do that again.”   And I say, “We will, baby-boo.  We will.”

Sometimes there is a trigger that spurs a memory.  Sometimes it’s out of the blue.

Every time it’s priceless.

So what happens to us when we get older?  Most people I talk to about this say recall their first memory from around the age of 4 or 5.  Does that hold true for everyone?  If so, then all of these precious memories that Grace and I share won’t be recalled by her as she gets older.

Her “first memory”, or at least the one that she will recall as an adult, might not have even happened yet.   That’s a strange thought considering the long list of events we are already talking about.

Thankfully I live in the future and have digital devices to record some of these easily forgotten moments.

I have given up trying to completely count or organize the thousands of pictures and hundreds of videos I have of her.  Maybe organizing it can be our project when she gets older and we can take a walk down or digital memory lane together.

Then I can be the one to say “Remember?”


PS – What is your first memory?  Share it in the comments section.  Or, there’s this project going on at a tumblr site where a collection of first memories is being gathered.  Check it out.  Even if you don’t add yours, it’s strangely interesting to read from those that have.

Ravioli Standoff

By | Daddy, Daughter, Development, Eating Habits, Fathers and Daughters, Relationships, Toddlers | One Comment

Ravioli Standoff

The threes are the new terrible twos.

Ok, ok, it’s not terrible. At least it isn’t for me because I may have won the toddler lottery with one of the more well behaved children on the planet.

But that’s not to say that Grace hasn’t been testing her boundaries lately. Fatherhood surprised me by allowing me to discover that I have the patience of Job, but even I have my limits. Tonight was the first (I’m sure of many) of Mexican standoffs between G and me.

We stared at each other over the dinner table and the quickly cooling ravioli and I decided I wasn’t going to bend this time. With how well she speaks it’s sometimes hard to remember that she isn’t even 3 yet (one more month) but the defiant words coming out of her mouth could’ve come from a teenager. She just wasn’t going to eat her dinner and had no trouble telling me that fact.

Mental process: Was this my fault? Did I give her too many snacks before dinner? No. Check. Is this something she doesn’t like to eat and I’m forcing it? No. She requested it and usually inhales it. Check. Had she eaten enough of it to constitute a full belly? Not even close.

So, I ate mine in front of her and tried to show her how tasty it is. That resulted in a thrown fork, which then resulted in her first Time Out while still buckled to a booster seat. I make it a point to talk to her after every punishment to explain why she had to face a corner for 2 minutes. So after letting her know that silverware slinging doesn’t make for great table manners, I took another try at asking her to eat. No dice.

So, I got up and washed some dishes all the while explaining to her that she couldn’t get up until she cleaned her plate. (We really do become our parents). Still not budging. So, after the dishes I brought the laptop over to the dinner table and surfed while she stewed. More fidgeting. It was time for an “all in” bet.

Everything I’ve read says you have to be consistent and back up what you say when an ultimatum is being made. So, with my best poker face, I announced that if she didn’t finish her food, she would have to go to bed. She’s obviously got a little gambler in her because even that didn’t inspire any action. Not even a flinch towards a fork.

So, I got up from my seat to reach over and unbuckle her and take her up to bed (hoping against all hope this would work).

I’ve honestly never seen anyone eat ravioli that fast after I stood up. I actually had to tell her to slow down and chew her food. She even took a couple of bites of the veggies. Naturally, she then looked at me with her big brown eyes and said “Thank you, Daddy. That was yummy.” Heart sufficiently melted, we unbuckled and went upstairs for bath, books, and bed which all went smoother than a milkshake. (Which I’ll probably treat her to tomorrow…if she eats her dinner.)