Potty training is a big deal for parents and toddlers alike. As a parent, you will undoubtedly be looking forward to nappy free days, while your little one will feel very grown up indeed. So, when is the right time to start?
What is the right age?
The physical development of bladder and bowel control in children happens somewhere between 18 and 30 months, although it can be later. A child under 1 years old has no control over these bodily functions, while there is very little control between 12 and 18 months. The average age of potty training is 27 months.
It’s a huge developmental step for your child. That’s why it’s essential that you listen to the signs that she/he is ready to start training, so it can be a positive experience for all concerned. It is also important not to compare your child’s development with that of similarly aged children, however tempted you may be to get on with toilet training. They all develop at their own rate and putting undue pressure on your toddler is likely to be counterproductive – it will only take them longer to get the hang of it.
When are they ready to start training?
If you think your child may be approaching the right age for potty training, look out for these signs to be sure that he is ready to start.
- Their nappy doesn’t need changing quite so often. Perhaps your child wakes up after a night’s sleep with only a wet nappy, or they can go for long periods between wet nappies. You may find that wees and poos happen shortly after mealtimes and then they are dry for a few hours.
- Your child is becoming more aware of their bodily functions. They may stop and grunt while doing a poo, and tell you about it, either before or afterwards.
- They may take an interest in toileting in general, perhaps imitating or accompanying you in the bathroom.
- Your toddler may show signs of greater independence in other areas too, such as feeding and being able to follow basic instructions.
8 steps to potty training
Potty training takes calm patience and a consistent approach by the parents and anyone else who regularly cares for your child. Make sure everyone knows that it is happening, and do tell them the exact toileting vocabulary that you and your toddler use, so there’s no confusion.
1. The right timing is key. Choose as calm, settled period when you can give your toddler your full attention and there’s no upheaval in the household, such as a new baby, a looming house move or upcoming holiday or an imminent nursery start! Once you’ve committed to underwear for the day, don’t go back to nappies! Schedule potty training for the warmer summer months, as it’s easier for your child to run around nappy-free (and for you to mop up accidents!).
2. Preparation is everything. Obviously, you will need to get a child sized potty in a design your toddler loves; a child seat to fit onto your regular toilet seat is also a good idea. Have the right toileting equipment in ALL your bathrooms and don’t forget to take a travel potty for when you’re out and about. Whatever type of potty you choose, make sure your child likes it and is comfortable when sitting on it.
3. Introducing your toddler to the subject of potty training can be made easier with the help of books and videos that you can look at together. Treat is like an adventure you’ll be going on together and make growing up a fun thing to do.
4. Introduce the potty as a daily routine, perhaps after breakfast or before bath time. To start with, sit you child on the potty fully clothed to get them used to the idea, and read their signs. If she/he is ready, proceed; if not, then put the potty away for a few weeks and try again.
5. Let your child be in charge of when and where they want to use the potty, and follow with encouragement and praise. You may need to be nimble and quick at times, especially when you realise that ‘when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go!’ Don’t forget that their bladder and bowel control is still in development.
6. Accidents will happen. Respond calmly and patiently and change your child’s clothes straight away, so there’s no discomfort. Don’t expect a linear progression; there are likely to be many hits and misses before they become fully dry. Take heart.
7. Get the clothing right. Whether you use transitional pull-up nappies or training pants, or switch to proper ‘grown up’ underwear, it’s a good idea to keep clothes easy to remove. And wherever you go, always take at least one set of spare clothes with you.
8. A little praise goes a long way. Ignoring the ‘bad’ behaviour and praising the ‘good’ behaviour is the best way to go. Remain calm and unflapped when accidents occur (NEVER tell your child off) and heap on the ‘big girl/boy’ praise when the potty has been successfully used.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with UK nanny sourcing agency Harmony at Home.