If you are thinking it’s time for your little one to ditch the daytime nappies, perhaps you could do with some tips for potty training.
Learning how to use the potty (and ultimately toilet) are major milestones for your child. And it won’t necessarily be without incident and accidents. But with patience, encouragement and good communication you’ll soon both be celebrating their new success.
When to Start…
No-one knows your child better than you do, and each and every child is different. They all learn to walk and talk at different times to each other, and the same applies to toilet training. So don’t compare your child with their peers and ignore the pressure from other parents and their toilet training successes. If you attempt it too soon you could well be setting yourself up for failure and creating a stressed and upset child. Wait until your toddler is physically ready, can sit unaided and can follow instructions.
Are they ready? Most little ones will be ready between 18 months and 4 years and there will be signs. Wait until they are leaving longer gaps between wees, at least 60 minutes. Are they aware that they have had a wee or a poo? Perhaps they might even be aware that they need to have a wee or poo, and will hopefully tell you. They might poo at a regular time of day, which would help you predict when’s a good time to try sitting on the potty.
Are YOU ready? Toilet training will take time and patience so pick a time that’s right for you and your family. If you’re about to move house, leave it for when there is less disruption. We all lead busy lives but ideally try to find a few weeks when you and your little one can relax and be close to home (and a potty). No-one likes to poo under pressure. Especially if you’re learning how to for the first time. Some people say summertime is easier – there is less clothing to remove when there’s an urgent wee on the way. Plan to start when you are able to give this important developmental stage the time it deserves.
Bear in mind, setbacks happen. If it doesn’t work out exactly when you planned it, take a break, leave the potty in view and try again in a few weeks.
Time to Talk…
Communication is key. It’s never too early to talk about wee and poo with your little one. Toileting is a natural bodily function and there is nothing for them to feel worried or awkward about. Talking about the toilet will make it just a regular part of everyday life. Try to avoid any negative words, no “yucky” “dirty” “smelly” nappies please. Perhaps just tell them if their nappy is wet or dry at changing time, and chat about any wee and/or poo inside it.
Children also learn so much by example; they watch and copy. So leave the toilet door open when you need to use it and they will see it’s totally normal and nothing to be fearful of. It’s also super important to talk hygiene with them, and discuss the importance of hand washing after they have been to the toilet. Get those good habits started early.
There are loads of toilet training books available and can be useful to start conversations with your little one about it. Perhaps plan a special shopping trip together and let them help choose their new potty and pants. When you get home a favourite teddy might like to try sitting on the potty, such a great way to introduce it as a new habit. In fact, if you buy two potties then you can have one upstairs and one downstairs which reduces some of the panic to find one when there’s not a lot of notice.
Go For It…
Take your time. Don’t pressure your little one. Accept that there will be accidents. These are normal, try to ignore them and certainly don’t react crossly. Your frustration will not help your tot relax and may make them reluctant to try again. It might be very testing at times – as you mop up another little puddle – but try to remain upbeat. Praise them, for every single success. What a clever cutie they are! And remember that some children will take a few days to learn to use the potty, other will take weeks. It doesn’t matter, it’s not a competition, they are doing brilliantly.
To make it that little bit easier for them, dress them in clothing that is easy to remove quickly. As much as I LOVE a toddler in dungarees – just so cute!!! – they are not the easiest item to remove. Also, make sure they drink plenty of water-based fluids. This will certainly help their bladder function and will make poos easier to pass.
Do remember that even when your little one is able to ditch their daytime nappies, they will probably still be wet at night. It’s a long time to hold in a wee! Being dry though the night usually comes later, when they are between 3 and 6 years old.
What Else Do You Need…?
Patience, patience, patience. And perhaps a reward sticker chart. I do not know any little one who doesn’t love a sticker.
Also, have a read of other parents’ top tips for potty training, such as these on the Babycentre website. There are some great ideas there that you might not have thought of but could come in very handy.
Good luck. It may seem daunting now but once it’s done you and your little one will feel so proud of your accomplishments!
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Top Tips for Potty Training