Is the process of diaper changes and / or potty training such an utter challenge because your child simply won’t stay still that long?

Do you feel like the rodeo queen, wrestling the diaper off and on your little one in multiple different positions – much like a cowboy trying to catch and wrangle a calf?    I’ve been there, and I’ve felt the urge upon successful completion to throw both hands up in the air with a feeling of utter joy. “DONE!”  Now what was my clocked time?

Does your child pop up from the potty chair like a Jack in the Box, complete with that goofy grin that indicates her utter pleasure in seeing you frustrated.  Even if they are willing to sit still for awhile…  you know if YOU are dreading sitting by your child in the cool new potty chair waiting for something, anything, to happen, your child will most certainly dread it as well.

It’s time to UP the engagement factor with music.  Music can make Potty Time into Party Time.

Just KNOW that there are ways to make this time far more effective for both you and your child.   Yes, the primary goal is to get a clean booty dressed and ready to go.  But wrap your head around the perspective that this is a great time to BOND with your child.  YOU are putting in the time one-on-one with this child, and when the focus starts with, “How can I connect with my child in a rich way while we do this?”, then many options open up for the two of you.

This article is NOT a “how to” for diaper changes or potty training – there are plenty of resources for that.  But when you start thinking with a musical parenting perspective, the process of personal care for both the child and the parent can become something to look forward to.

Music, instruments, animal sounds, rhymes, and songs can help engage the child’s mind in such a way that there is something far more interesting to focusing on.  These rhymes and songs can be found in so many different sources, but Kindermusik programs for babies and toddlers can make it soooo easy to provide the songs, the music, the props, and the tools to make these personal care responsibilities into a delightful time with your child.

EVERYWHERE you are, you have along with you one of your child’s favorite instruments to hear… your voice !   Accompanied with your memory for songs, that may be all that is needed.  Sometimes, it is just a good start, and can work very well with a few props for your child to see or hold, and to help you remember what you can use.

The animal theme is highlighted here because it is typically a universal interest for most children, and there are a great many songs and rhymes about animals.  If your child is interested in a different theme… like anything with wheels that GO, then by all means, switch the themes.  Kindermusik International has a great collection of songs about things that Go as well.   As a matter of fact, check out the music download site at, where you can search for songs based on specific themes.

At the changing table, or potty training area

Enjoy some vocal play with animal sounds, “What does a duck say?  Quack, Quack, Quack”  then make up a melody (or use a familiar melody like Twinkle Twinkle) as you sing with only the duck sound.  Babies find this fascinating, at least for a few moments, because it is not what they expect.   Continue with sounds of other animals.  This may not take any props, or it may become more engaging for your child if some items are added for them to see and/or hold.

Make a list of rhymes and songs you know and post them near the personal care area.  That mommy brain gets stuck sometimes and needs some reminders.

Consider accessorizing your personal care area with  2-3 baby safe items that your baby can see or hold, that will help you remember songs or rhymes to use during diaper changes or potty training.

  • Pictures of animals on wall, or to hold
  • Mobile of animals – without sound, so you can make your own music, and animal sounds.
  • Small stuffed, or wooden animals to hold
  • Board book with animal pictures to hold
  • Board book featuring ONE rhyme/song.
  • Shaker or bell instrument

Of course, Old MacDonald Had a Farm is an easy favorite.  And it can continue to expand with them as they go through different stages.

  • At the younger stages, children are engaged by watching your mouth and imitating sounds. as well as seeing the animal it matches.
  • At the next stage, they want to hold and handle objects that are being sung about, even if it is a book with several pictures.
  • At the next stage, they want to start making choices about which animal will be sung about next.
  • And, when they are ready, they will begin to sing parts of the song until they can sing the whole thing, and they will be learning that they can entertain themselves.

One of my son’s favorites for diaper changes was a board book featuring “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, with ALL the verses and full story.  That song, those pictures, his baby face, and those memories can never be erased from my heart and mind, it was such a special time.  He remembers it too, knows all the words to the song, and he is now 19 years old.  He doesn’t remember the diaper changes… at all.

If you don’t already know a lot of songs about animals, just get a great book of Mother Goose Rhymes, or start participating in a Kindermusik program, and you will be locked and loaded for incorporating some special musical moments.

All of the above can be used during diaper changes or when sitting on the potty.

Experienced Parenting Tip:  Have you seen the cool Happy Changer, which gently holds your baby in place on the diaper changing pad.  Although not musical,  that is one smart idea !  It beats out my husbands idea of using duct tape – although it does now come in such pretty colors.

Choosing to Go, Getting there, and Getting Ready

Potty training, on the other hand involves many more steps than diaper changes, recognizing when to go, actually traveling to the potty, getting undressed, sitting until something happens, something happens!,  wiping, getting dressed again.

Celebrate the Desire to GO !

I know there is a LOT of books for children about Potty Training – some great, some not, but there is ONE book that my son just LOVED, and it made the decision to go potty an easy one for him.  “Uh Oh, Gotta Go” by Bob McGrath, features a different child on each page with their own “story” that makes potty time special for them.  My son soon started saying “Uh Oh, Gotta Go” and we would race to the bathroom.

Determine which toileting method your child likes most.

My first was about 2 1/2 before he was even interested in potty training.  Baby potty seats were NOT his thing.   It was after watching his dad stand up and pee in the toilet that he became interested, and the only way he wanted to do this was sitting backwards on the toilet.  His little butt felt secure around the rim of the front of the toilet seat, and he could see when he peed.  At that point, it was a very short time until he was fully potty trained.  One night he woke up screaming and I ran in to find out what was wrong… nothing seemed obvious, so I decided to try to take him to the potty, just in case.  Well, that was exactly what he needed, and from that point on, he woke himself up and went potty by himself.  I – AM – SO – LUCKY !!!

My daughter began potty training earlier than my son; she was around 22 months old.  She started saying “I poopin'”, and I figured if she could say it, she could do it on a potty!!  There was NO WAY she would sit backwards on the toilet like my son.  She picked out her own QUEEN style potty throne at the store and we brought it home with a royal flair, and placed it on a royal purple towel.   She liked sitting on her potty throne and “reading her books”.  BUT, she balked at the idea that she “needed to go”, and stubbornly refused to make her way TO the potty, especially if she was involved in another interesting activity.  “Uh Oh Gotta Go” did not work for her.   My frustrated instinct, to grab her under my arm and carry her like a flour sack was not going to promote a good experience once we got there.  We tried several approaches first, to make it fun to get there, offering options for her to choose from, such as:

  • silly walks, like taking big steps, walking backwards, marching, or tiptoes, while humming “bringing home a baby bumble bee”.
  • singing animal songs and moving like animals on the way,
  • carrying her upside down (Dickory Dickory Dare, the pig flew UP in the air…)
  • Piggy back rides  (This little piggy went to the potty…)

But they only worked for a short while.  It only really clicked for good when I created an upbeat song for us to sing and march along with when it was time to go to the potty.

  • Potty Time, Party Time, Let’s to to the Potty Time.  
  • Cause it’s P-O-T-T-Y Time…    it’s P-O-T-T-Y Time…  (repeat)
  • I gotta poop, I gotta pee, I gotta poop, I gotta pee.
  • (and repeat, ad nauseum, until arriving at the potty and getting undressed.)

That was it… the key that my daughter responded to… making potty time into party time.   She got a party hat when she sat down on the potty throne, and took it off when we left.

Once on the toilet and waiting, she loved her books (washable plastic pages), and it was a nice time for us to read together, very engaging… sometimes so much that she forgot what she was supposed to be doing.  (Honestly, at 11 years old now, she still has this issue.)

SO, it seemed it was important to also have a fun song to sing for when something happens.  It helped to remind her of her “job” by asking, “Which song do we get to sing first?  The pooping song, or the peeing song?”  or “Do you feel a pooping or peeing song is coming?”

My daughter, like so many children, love to hear their name in a song, and since this was such a personal effort on her part, her name was the first word in the song.

  • _______ peed the the potty, ______ peed in the potty, 
  • She’s a big girl just like mommy, ______ peed in the potty.

It was hilarious when she would join me in the bathroom as I was in that process, and she started singing the song for me when I peed.

The poopin’ song was more of a joyous cheer, with fist pumps in the air.

  • I pooped, I pooped, I really, really pooped.  
  • I got it out, now give a shout, I really really pooped.

Yeah… the main drawback is when she started singing the songs in public… at the grocery store… in line.

A song for wiping… you must be kidding, right?  Um… no, I am a Kindermusik educator, I must have a song for everything.  Just ask my family.

This song is sung legato – slow and smooth, with intent, and to the tune of “Sailing Sailing, over the deep blue Sea”

  • Wiping Wiping, wiping front to back, wipe it clean, wipe it clean, then throw it in the pot.

Washing Hands !

It’s all part of the whole process, and it does take motivation, time, and fun to make it an indespensible part of the personal care process.  Many resources recommend singing the Happy Birthday song, or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star TWICE while washing hands.   And research shows that washing with warm water and soap for about 2 minutes is the best way  to really get all of the germs off the hands.  Using hand sanitizer should only be used when this is not available.  But most little ones want to get the soap on, get the soap off, and move on.  Although there are some who would keep using more warm water and more soap, washing and washing until you make them stop.

Having a specific song to use acts as a timer.   After getting on the soap, we rub hands around and around while singing the song, when it is over, then we rinse.  Period.  Once they get this as part of their routine, the connection is there.  So which song will be used?   Using your child’s favorite song at the time is the best option, although you may need to sing it twice to get the right timing down.

From our Kindermusik repertoire, we like to use the old folk classic, Old Joe Clark.  “Wash a-wash, Old Joe Clark, Wash a-wash I say, Wash a-wash Old Joe Clark, we’re gonna wash that dirt away.  Lalalalalalalala..”    Or – “Jing Jang, Jing Jang, let’s wash our hands now.”   “Wash all round, Jing Jang ” (repeat  3 more times)  “Rinse them off Jing Jang…””   “Wipe them dry, Jing Jang…”


On The Go !

Personal care while on the road, or out and about can sometimes take a little more creativity.   Of course, you have your voice and your imagination with you at all times.  But what else may be helpful to pack along with all the toiletry stuff?

While on the go, consider some things light and easy to keep in the diaper bag for personal care.

A Set of Animal Flash Cards may work for you and your child.  Just search the internet for “farm animal flash cards”.   So many options are available that are easy to print out on card stock. I liked this set from because of the simple drawings, words for both name and sound, and that they are printable for free.  On the back of each card, write the words to one rhyme, or list the title of several rhymes or songs that have to do with that animal.  Laminate and cut out the cards, punch a hole in the corner and attach them so you have a set of flip cards.  Ta-Da !  This becomes an all in one toy for your child to look through, and a resource, for when your brain is in a holding pattern, and you need just little reminders of what you can actually do.

Most children are familiar with, and LOVE “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”.   Young children LOVE to make the choice about which animal to sing about next, and help to make the sounds.

Or consider generating a variety of songs and activity ideas from your child’s favorite toy.   They are most likely to be carrying this toy anyway.  See how many rhymes or songs you can collect about that animal.

Experienced Parenting Tip:   Establish a variety of favorite toys associated with different places.

Encourage your child to have a different FAVORITE ITEM for different places.  Staying on the bed may be a favorite stuffed cat.  Staying in the car, and on the go may be a favorite stuffed dog, Staying near the potty chair may be a rubber duck, or in the trunk of the car may be a plastic cow, etc..  This way, there are many favorite items, and it is less likely that that ONE AND ONLY gets misplaced when you need it most.  It is also a good way to encourage them to LEAVE the one they have, in anticipation for one of their favorites in a different place.  Don’t expect this to be a quick process to start, or that it will work perfectly… ever.  But it is something to work toward that may be very helpful.  AND, it gives the parent a lot more options for songs and activities in different places.

Experienced Parenting Tip:  Make a list for your reference… (title, first words, or full words to songs).  This can be on a full sheet of paper, or on the back of the flash card for each animal,  or in the note section of your phone, or whatever works best for you to reference.

How about if I start a list of animal songs for you, identified by animal.  I prefer using the first line rather than the title.  Most all of these are familiar Mother Goose Rhymes or favorite children’s songs that can be found in a variety of source.  I love that Kindermusik features so many of these;   * indicates it is included in a Kindermusik album.

Dog  –  Oh, Where, oh where has my little dog gone?*;    Who let  the dogs out?;   Old Mother Hubbard;   Walk Along Rover *, BINGO

Cat – Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat and the fiddle*;  Pussy Cat Pussy Cat, where have you been?;  I Bought Me a Cat*

Rabbit –  I saw a little Rabbit go Hop, Hop, Hop*;   Little Bunny Foo Foo,  1,2,3,4,5, Once I Caught a Hare Alive;

Mouse –  Hickory Dickory Dock, the mouse ran up the clock;   Itsy Bitsy Mousekins*;   The Little Mouse is Creeping*; Three Blind Mice

Pig – This Little Piggy*;  Dickory, Dickory Dare, the pig flew up in the air*;

Horse – All the Pretty Little Horses*;   Shoe a Little Horse*;  Giddy Up, Horsey*; Ride a Cock-Horse to Banbury Cross*;  Yankee Doodle*

Donkey – Sweetly Sings the Donkey*;  Bazoo, Bazoo, Butz*

Lamb/Sheep –  Mary Had a Little Lamb*,  Little Bo Peep*;  Baa Baa Black Sheep*;

Cow – This Little Cow Eats Grass*;   The Clever Cows*;

Duck – Five Little Ducks went out to Play;  All my little ducklings, swimming here and there*;

Chicken – Ten Fluffy Chicks*;  Hickety Pickety My Black Hen;

All Animals – Old MacDonald,  When _____ gets up in the morning, they always sing Good Day*;   Fiddle-I-Fee*


It is likely that each of these songs can be found on You Tube if you need to refresh your memory for the melody (and you don’t have the Kindermusik recordings).

If interested, there are several Kindermusik albums that include many of these songs, with excellent arrangements that make it easy for repeated listening.

Some are only available for those enrolled in that unit of Kindermusik programs, like Fiddle Dee Dee, and Hickory Dickory Tickle and Bounce (these are the current units we are enjoying in our Lakeland and Winter Haven Kindermusik classes right now – Spring 2015).

Several albums focused on Mother Goose Rhymes and Animal Songs are available to download from,

Video Resource Online:  “It’s Potty Time” –  This video from The Duke University Center is designed for young children to watch repeatedly.  It depicts older children singing songs specifically about each step in the potty training process.  Personally, I prefer and recommend the personal interactions that can be developed through this process with your child.  BUT, if you need a little extra help, or want to learn some specific songs, give it a try !

Another Experienced Parenting Tip:    Toileting in the Trunk

Some brilliant moms I know clean out the trunk of their car (or back of the SUV) and have it prepared for diaper changing and/or a potty training.  HANDY, without being in the way.  You DON’T HAVE to FIND a clean bathroom, you have it with you.  Find a place to park in the shade, and you have it made.   For the potty chair, small plastic bags are already set up on the potty seat, so it is ready at a moments notice, and can be easily removed and discarded after completion.  A bag of extra clothes are handy for emergency changes – multiple if necessary.   A basket of items for encouragement or distractions are kept there as well.  So, no matter where you go, you have a safe, clean, comfortable, and familiar place to let the child be changed, or to continue the process of potty training.

I WISH I had known about this when my children were going through these stages.

Last, but not least, if you have ever sung the “Party Pooper” song (ah, the memories of college), this is easily adapted for our potty party time.

  • Every potty needs a pooper, that’s why we invited YOU.  Potty Pooper, Potty Pooper, Potty Pooper !

Please, Please add any of your Experienced Parenting Tips, or musical songs or activities YOU use with your child to help this potty process proceed most effectively !