The most important thing to remember, when potty training, is that it is not a race. Toilet training might take days or months and every child is different. Let your child progress at their own pace. I promise you, you will not have a teenager still in nappies. My dear daughter said her first word at three months but potty trained later than all her playmates. Try not to stress and try to make it fun for your child.
When? Signs that your child is ready for Potty Training.
Most Children are around two and many are nearer three before they start to show signs that they are ready. Research shows that bladder capacity increases significantly between the ages of two and three, so most three year olds should be able to hold on and be dry for a reasonable period of time.
If your toddler seems to be a late starter when it comes to potty training, you may be reassured to know that the age a child is potty trained is not linked to intellect. Nor does it correlate with other stages of development. For example if a child was an early talker, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be potty trained earlier – my daughter is the perfect example of this.
Here are some signs that your child may be ready for potty training:
- Staying dry for at least 2 hours at a time, having regular bowel movements.
- Is walking and can sit for short periods of time.
- Being able to follow simple instructions.
- Is becoming generally more independent when it comes to completing tasks.
- Being uncomfortable with dirty diapers and wanting them to be changed.
- Tells you (or shows obvious signs) when he/she does a “poo” or “wee-wee” in their nappy.
- Asking to use the potty chair or asking to wear regular underwear.
If your child has begun to tell you about having a dirty diaper you should praise them for telling you and encourage them to tell you in advance next time. Before introducing the toilet or potty, it helps a lot if you have an established daily routine with your child. This way, the new activity of using the toilet or potty can be slotted into your normal routine.
Having a plan is always a good idea. That way you and your child will know exactly what you will be doing and your child will feel at ease. Fully brief your child (pun intended). Make sure they know the plan. Tell them they’re a big boy/girl and from now on they will do their “wee-wees” and “poos” in the potty or toilet and not in their nappy.
- Choose a start day, perhaps when you have no plans to leave the house. May sure it is not during another stressful event such as a big move, new job, new baby, etc.
- Stop using nappies (except at night and during daytime sleeps). Begin using underpants or training pants. You can even let your child choose some underpants/panties, which can be an exciting step for them.
- Dress your child in clothes that are easy to take off – for example, trousers with elastic waistbands rather than full body suits. In warmer weather, you might like to leave your child in underpants when at home.
- Sit your child on the potty each day at times when he’s likely to have a bowel movement, like 30 minutes after eating or after having a bath.
- Give your child lots of fibre to eat and water to drink so she doesn’t become constipated, which can make toilet training difficult. Your child’s diet is the best way to handle this, rather than buying fibre supplements.
- If your child doesn’t cooperate or seem interested, wait until he’s willing to try again.
- Give your child positive praise for their efforts (even if progress is slow), and lots of praise when they are successful. You could say ‘Well done Lucy for sitting on the potty’. As she achieves each stage, reduce the amount of praise.
- Look out for signs that your child needs to go to the toilet – some cues include changes in posture, passing wind and going quiet.
- At different stages throughout the day (but not too often), you might ask your child if he needs to go to the toilet. Gentle reminders are enough – it’s best if your child doesn’t feel pressured.
- Five minutes is long enough to sit a child on the potty or toilet. It’s best not to make your child sit on the toilet for long periods of time, because this will feel like punishment.
- You’ll need to wipe your child’s bottom at first, until he/she learns how. Remember to wipe from the front to the back, particularly with little girls.
- Teach your child how to wash her hands after using the toilet. This can be a fun activity that your child enjoys as part of the routine.
- Be prepared for lots of puddles, and never punish her for accidents. If he/she misses the toilet, don’t comment. Just clean it up without any fuss. Just say “oops, next time let’s try and make it to the potty” or something similar.
Remember it is hard work – that’s why it’s called ‘training’. Yes, life WILL be more difficult for a couple of weeks.
Even if your child uses the toilet or potty during the day, it’s not time to throw away the nappies just yet – often, children are between three and four years of age before they’re dry at night. Some children still wet the bed at six or seven, or even older.
Make it clear to your child that you’ll help them in the middle of the night if they wake up needing to use the potty. Assure them that there’s nothing wrong if they have an accident at night.
- Pay attention to your child if he/she says she needs the toilet immediately. They might be right!
- If you’re sure your child hasn’t done a “poo” or “wee-wee” in a while, remind him/her that he/she might need to go – he/she might get so caught up in what he’s doing that he doesn’t realise he needs to go until it’s too late.
- Check if your child wants to go to the toilet during a long playtime or before an outing. If he/she doesn’t want to go, that’s fine.
- Try to make sure the potty or toilet is always easy to access and use.
- Ask your child to go to the potty just before going to bed and try to avoid big drinks at bedtime.
Each child is different but sometimes they just need a little encouragement. Youtube has some fun videos that can help your child find the confidence to use the potty. Like “Bear in the Big Blue House”.