Training your child to use a potty can be a challenging task; you may be wondering how you should approach this or how you will know when or at what age your baby is ready to potty train. This article is a brief guide to potty training giving you helpful hints and tips to make the process easier for you and your baby.
When to potty train
This is all down to your child’s readiness and as every child is unique, this will vary. Some people start their children at 18-24 months. Other people leave it to 36 months when a child has developed better bladder control. Children have even started potty training at 4 years, so there is really no set age.
Potty training signs
One of the biggest indicators that your baby is ready for potty training is their interest in toilet activity. They may try to watch you while you are on the toilet and this should not be discouraged. If you feel comfortable enough it might even be worth telling your child that you are going for a wee wee or a poo poo.
Your child should be physically ready too. Ideally, they need to be able to stand or run steadily, indicating a good sense of balance, which they will need whilst sitting on the toilet. Your child should also be able to sit quietly for a certain period, usually several minutes.
Dry periods indicate that your baby has developed bladder control. This is what many parents wait for because it is important for days out and night time.
Cognitive skills are also required while potty training such as the ability to follow instructions, which will make your life much easier.
Sometimes your baby may be vocal about their bowel movements, screwing their face up and perhaps even informing you of what they are doing. Again, this is a good sign they are ready.
Other things to look out for in your child:
· Demonstrates independence
· Dislikes being in a wet/soggy nappy
· Can pull pants up and down
· Regular bowel movements that fall at predictable times
· Understands physical signs of urinating and pooping
The final ingredient of potty training readiness is cooperation. Your baby can have all of the above but may not want to begin toilet training. This is fine. It is crucial to remember not to force them into anything they do not want to do, because it can have a detrimental effect on how they perceive the potty, which makes training your child much harder later on.
Potty training essentials
Your child is now ready to potty train. The first thing you will need is a potty. You can buy one that sits on the floor but there are also potties that attach to the inside of the toilet. It is probably best to buy a potty that has a removable bowl for cleaning purposes, making it easier to spill out unwanted contents.
If you decide on the attachable toilet potty or toilet trainer seat, then you will also need some steps for your child to get up to the toilet; this type may make your baby more willing to train because they are copying you, therefore they feel more independent.
An optional accessory is a children’s book that your child can look at whilst they are going to the toilet, which will distract them from an intimidating task.
Potty training routines
Now that you have a potty, you need to do two things:
1) Make your child feel comfortable sitting on the potty
2) Build a routine
The first is easily accomplished by sitting your baby on the potty fully clothed for several minutes a day. Avoid trying to put your baby on the potty without clothes as this may scare them. Keep on doing this until you feel confident your baby is comfortable.
If your child wants to come off, do not restrain them or use force. Doing this will again likely scare them from using the potty. Instead make sitting on the potty a positive experience by giving them lots of praise and encouragement.
The second part is a little bit trickier and requires some intuition from you. Try to judge when they are having a bowel movement or wee, and then gently ask if they need the toilet. You could also try picking them up gently and sitting them on the potty. Eventually, they will get the idea.
Toilet training rewards
A great way to motivate your child to potty train is through rewards. Free rewards such as clapping, cheering and telling them how good they are inspires confidence in your baby, and they will be eager to receive more praise. You could also try giving them something like a sticker or piece of fruit once they have washed their hands.
A progress chart can be a fun way to monitor how your baby is doing with his training. When they have successfully gone to the toilet, you can give them a sticker to put on the chart. You can make it even more fun by praising them and clapping, try to get your partner involved with the praise as well. Baby’s love to be praised and all these things will make them very happy.
Toilet hygiene and your baby
Hygiene can be taught simultaneously while potty training. First, show your baby how you go to the toilet, how you flush and finally how you wash your hands.
When your baby has gone to the toilet, dispose of the contents and ask your baby to flush them. Again, letting your baby do things they have seen you do inspires confidence and willingness. Next, take your baby to the sink and wash their hands, let them lather themselves with the soap. Try to talk to them all the time while they learn about toilet training, your words will make them feel more comfortable. Repetition and encouragement are the keys to successful potty training.
Preparing for night time training
Your baby is almost ready to ditch the nappies for good, but you may want to hang on to a few for now. Accidents can happen at night, as your baby will be asleep and unaware if they need to go or not. Eventually, they will learn to get up and go to the toilet if they need it.
Try to give your baby less to drink before they sleep and tell them that if they need the potty they can call you. If your child does have an accident, be supportive and compassionate. Regression (going back to a previous stage of development) may occur if your baby becomes frightened of what they have done because they see you are unhappy with them.
Potty training when out and about
Arguably, this is a more challenging task then keeping your child dry at night. You don’t want to be giving your child mixed messages by giving them nappies while they’re out and pants when their indoors, this will only confuse them.
Potties are usually portable, so carrying one around while you are out will allow them to continue their training an. Accidents can frequently happen; packing a spare pair of clothes will allow you to change them quickly in the event of any mishaps.
The most important thing to remember whilst potty training is patience; getting angry or scolding your child, will merely destroy all of your hard work. Be supportive, positive and encouraging whilst they potty train, then you can finally say goodbye to the nappies.