You may be like a lot of parents who question when is the appropriate time to potty train your little one. The truth is there is never a set age to do so. The perfect time is when your little one is ready to potty train, as every child is different and develops at different rates.
Whether you are a first time potty training parent or a seasoned pro, there are certain challenges that come with toilet training a toddler. Just because you or your friend were able to potty train a 15 month old in 2 weeks doesn’t mean the child you are training now is ready, even if he is 30 months old. Knowing how to potty train a toddler and knowing how to potty train your toddler are two different things. But when the moment finally comes for your child, you will want to be prepared. Recognizing the signs of readiness is the first and most vital step to successful potty training.
Potty Training Readiness: Reading the Signs
It really doesn’t matter if your child is mentally ready to begin potty training if their his body is not first physically ready. If your child stays dry for 3 to 4 hours at a time and has a good amount of urine at a time, he probably has enough bladder control to begin training. It is important that he is walking well also so that he can get to the potty in time as he learns. Finally, he should have fairly predictable bowel movements and you should be able to recognize when he is about to have one so that you can encourage him to get to the potty right away.
If the physical readiness signs are there, then watch him for mental readiness. He should be able to sit still for several minutes, follow simple instructions, be able to pull his pants up and down, and show a strong dislike for the feeling of a wet or messy diaper against his skin. He should be able to express recognizable words for urine and bowel movements to communicate with you. In addition, he should be interested in what you are doing in the bathroom and is agreeable to sitting on the potty himself. A sense of independence and pride of achievement is also very helpful.
Potty Training a Toddler: Getting Started
If your child shows most or all of the potty training readiness signs, you may be in business. Always remember, however, that no matter how ready a child may seem to be, you should not force the issue. If you try several times for a couple of days and are only met with resistance, take a break for a week or two and try again. Your child will train when he is ready to train and not a moment before. It is one of the very few things a child feels he has control over in his life, so let him really enjoy that sense of independence and let him believe that this potty training thing was his grand idea.
Here are a few supplies I recommend you have available:
1. Potty Training Dolls. There are training dolls for both girls and boys. These dolls can help demonstrate to your son or daughter what you expect to happen. Although these dolls have a tube inside that will have the liquid you put in their mouth out the other end at the same instant, it still allows you to show what needs to happen. You can sit the doll on the toy potty chair and clap once they have finished doing potty. Seeing you clap and cheer for the doll will motivate your child to do the same for your approval.
2. Training Pants or Pull-Ups.To get the best out of the training, your child should have training pants. They will feel like a grown up while still getting the necessary padding to catch a leak. These can be worn even when you are out with your little one. They will hold any leaks, should they not make it to the restroom, but can be pulled up and down easily when they use the restroom.
3. A Potty Chair. You will need, if nothing else, a child-sized potty chair. The idea of sitting on a seat with a hole in it big enough to swallow you on top of a pool of water that makes this horrible noise and carries everything away is not a particularly encouraging idea for a child. A potty chair designed for little bottoms will go a long way toward allaying their fears and putting them at ease with the process. There are many to choose from, so consider your child’s tastes, personalities, and things he responds positively to when making your selection.
You can either buy a simple potty chair like the bestselling Baby Bjorn potty chair or you can get something more entertaining like a musical potty chair. A musical potty chair can help motivate your child to use it. Most musical chairs come with a sensor that detects when it is humid. The music will activate once your child starts to pee in it. Some chairs will play a nursery rhyme while other chairs will clap and cheer. Your child will want to sit in the potty chair just to hear the music play.
4. Potty Seats. Since your child cannot use the musical potty training chair all the time, you still have to make the transition onto a regular toilet seat. There are cushion pads that you can purchase to help them sit on there. These potty seats come in a variety of colors or can have the cartoon character of their choice.
5. A Stepping Stool. Once they are using the toilet, you would need a stepping stool so they can reach the toilet seat. A stool that will rest against the toilet is safer for them to use. This will allow them to have a sturdy step when they are using it. This same stool can then be moved onto the sink so they can wash their own hands.
6. A Reward Chart – You can purchase a sticker and chart reward to help motivate them to potty in the restroom. Every time your child is asking for a toy, tell them they have to reach a goal. You can set a daily goal and a weekly goal. If your child does potty in the restroom the first day you can reward them with something small. In the weekly goal you can reward them with that toy they keep asking you for.
Scheduling is the key to successful potty training. Toddlers do very well with predictable routines. Try to schedule the first potty attempt right after waking up in the morning and again after breakfast. Encourage your child to sit on the potty chair, first fully clothed and then bare bottomed, every two hours or so. Invite your child to come to the toilet with you and explain what you are doing and make a big deal about how wonderful it is. You might even place your child’s potty in front of you and the two of you “go” together. When you are finished, be sure to stress the importance of potty hygiene and hand washing.
Finally, when your child has had good success for several days, give him the chance to wear some big kid underwear. Explain that these cool little things are something that you get to wear when you are big enough to use the potty whenever you have to go. Make it something he can be really proud of. Above all, don’t scold accidents. They are going to happen. The best thing to do is not to make a huge deal out of them at all. Reassure your child that everything’s ok, everyone has accidents, and unceremoniously change him. Don’t be cold or angry, but don’t over-comfort either lest your child learns that accidents mean affection. Rather, make a huge deal out of his potty successes so he quickly learns that this is a desirable action.
Don’t expect your child to make it through the night at this stage. Some children can be of school age before their bladders are capable of making it all night with no accidents. Use potty training diapers or plastic training pants at bedtime to keep bedclothes dry and clean. Night training will happen only when your child is physically ready for it, so it is important not to make a huge deal out of nighttime accidents.
Potty training is not an easy task but do not get discouraged. With the right potty training supplies and patience, you can achieve this. Do not allow your son or daughter to feel like they did something bad when they do not potty in the toilet. Be patient with him or her as they will make the transition once he or she is ready. Learning how to potty train a toddler isn’t as difficult as actually putting everything into practice, but with time success will come. When it does, have a big farewell party for your remaining supply of diapers to really celebrate this huge milestone and let your little one beam with pride.