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Pediatrics/teaching a child to clean after a BM


My daughter's almost 3-yr old and fully potty trained.  She had a loose BM (we were out playing the previous day, and she didn't have a BM all day)at the daycare, and her teachers made a big thing about her not being able to clean herself.  

Are kids that age capable of reaching and wiping themselves well after a BM?

How can I train her? The teachers won't help, even though it rarely happens. I  was told to pick her up!

Pls help, I'm totally helpless!

In my experience, I have never seen an "almost 3yr old" who is completely independent with toileting. I would guess the earliest age would be at least 4, to effectively clean after a BM. Of course having those wet wipes available will help. Depending on how long she has been toilet trained, the process of teaching independence is gradual, takes patience and requires lots of practice. The following is from a toilet training handout I use in my practice. The complete handout can be found at

Parents should gradually encourage their child to take steps towards independence. For example, parents can start teaching their child to pull his/her own pants up and down.  Next parents can encourage their child to wipe himself/herself. These small, gradual steps will eventually lead to the child going to the bathroom all by himself/herself.
*Teach cleanliness (e.g. wiping, washing hands, etc.). Once the child begins pulling down his/her pants and sitting on the potty, it is time for parents to teach their child how to wipe after urinating (for girls) or having a b.m. For girls, it is important for parents to teach their child to wipe from front to back to decrease the probability of spreading bacteria. This is also the time for parents to teach their child how to wash and dry his/her hands after each time on the potty. It is important to teach the child proper cleanliness habits from the very beginning.

I hope this helps some. Shame on her teachers for making a big deal out of the fact she wasn't able to clean herself! She needs praise and reassurance; continue to give her lots of that!  


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Karen Martin, APN, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner


Common childhood illnesses, growth and development, baby care, feeding issues, breastfeeding problems, car seat questions, sleeping problems, care of premature babies, and basic pediatric/parenting questions.


I am a certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner working in a private pediatric clinic for the past four years. My previous experience includes 20 years in a 72 bed, level IV neonatal intensive care unit. I have been a certified child passenger safety technician for four years.

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP)

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