Raising a toddler is incredibly exciting as there are so many developmental milestones to look forward to! At this age, children develop speech, their personality becomes more evident and, of course, they reach potty training age.
Potty training can be as daunting as it is exciting. Often moms struggle with knowing when to start or identifying the best method for their child. Registered professional nurse and midwife Pippa Hime shares her advice on how to successfully potty train your little one in a way that is rewarding for both you and them.
Is it time?
The physical and emotional readiness of your child has significant bearing on successful potty training, explains Hime. Children generally start to show an interest in potty training from the age of two; however others might not be ready until two-and-a-half to three years old. There really is no rush. It’s best to wait for your child to be ready so as not to have a lengthy training period, which can be frustrating for both baby and mom.
How will I know when my child is ready?
Hime says there are definite cues that you can look out for that indicate readiness, such as:
- Your child notices when they are wetting or dirtying their nappy
- They fiddle with their nappy area when they need the toilet
- They have stretches of time with a dry nappy
- They show interest when you use the loo
- They comment when they are about to wet or dirty the nappy
Is it the same for girls and boys?
“The hormones involved in little girls’ recognition of their bladder or bowel control mature faster, which means they are often ready earlier than boys. It’s best to monitor your child for the relevant tell-tell signs,” shares Hime.
Ready, sit, go!
When you decide it’s time to begin the training, set your child up for success. Start by maintaining a positive attitude towards the process. Hime suggests that allowing your child to choose their own potty will introduce an element of fun and cause your child to look forward to using it. Introducing a reward system such as stickers, which the child can stick on their potty after every successful potty, will encourage your child through the process. Creating a sticker chart can also help your child visualise their progress.
Create a routine by encouraging regular toilet use at certain times throughout the day, e.g. before a bath or before bedtime, before an outing and at certain points during the outing. To maintain consistency, try to bring the potty chair or a portable potty with you when you’re away from home.
During the training process
When potty training, it’s advisable to use pull-up nappies as this makes the transition from nappies to underwear much easier.
Stay with your child when he or she is on the potty or in the bathroom. Even if the child simply sits, praise them for trying and remind your child that he or she can try again later.
Praise your child after every successful use of the potty, but don’t berate them for any accidents. When it happens, clean up swiftly and encourage the use of the potty or toilet next time. Hime says, “Your child will feel a little ashamed and uncomfortable naturally, so your reassurance that they can still get it right is just the moral support they need. Be prepared and have a number of changes of underwear and clothes on hand, especially if you have an outing planned.”
To ensure a seamless process, it’s best not to potty train during any drastic life changes such as moving house, starting school or having another baby.
“My top tip is: try to potty train in summer or in the warmer summer months when you can also allow your little one to run around in their underwear,” says Hime.
It’s also important to involve family and caregivers in the training process to ensure that a routine is maintained even when you are not around to do it yourself.
“Lastly, if your child attends a nursery school, take advice from the teachers. They have many years of experience in this field and are often involved in training a number of children at a time. Your little one would also have seen other kids using the little loo and will be keen to try it themselves, which is bound to lead to successful potty training,” concludes Hime.