Potty training is one of those inevitable things that all parents and children must face sooner or later. We have just about succeeded with our first daughter, who is pretty much ‘potty trained’ in its truest sense; she knows when it is coming, where to go and how to do it.
It was a little tricky at first but after just one week she got the hang of it and after another week or two, she insists on doing everything herself. There are still a few very rare occasions when she has a small accident but that is to be expected in a two-year-old.
Potty training is the process that you go through in order to teach your child not only how to recognize that they need to use the toilet but also to teach them how to do it. As I said before, any child can be made to sit on a potty or a toilet until they go but they will not be fully potty trained until:
Until a child can do all of this unaided, they are not properly potty trained. Even being able to tell you that something is coming may not be enough if they cannot get their clothing down in time.
So, you may be wondering how to introduce potty training to your toddler. I use the term toddler frequently throughout this article, simply because it is the next stage up from being a baby and it is during the toddler stage that many new skills and abilities develop, such as potty training.
There are different schools of thought on when to first introduce the potty to your child. There are some experts who will advise you to do it early on before your toddler is ready to begin to process. Common sense would suggest this is a good idea; getting them familiar with the potty, to know how it feels and how it can be carried.
However, there is always a risk that a young toddler may just play with a potty and use it as a handy place to store their building blocks or toys. If this happens they may not really get to grips with it when the time is right. What we did was to introduce the potty to our daughter when we began to train her. That way it became relevant at the right time and its presence was only for one purpose, which she soon realized.
A useful tip is to buy two potties, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. If you are lucky enough to have a toilet downstairs as well as upstairs, keep both potties in the bathroom or toilet. This way there is an association between these rooms from the very beginning. By having one upstairs and one downstairs it also increases the chance of getting to one of them in time, no matter where in your home you are.
When your toddler shows most or all of the signs that they are ready (see the next section) a good way to introduce the potty to them is to involve them. Toddlers love to be involved in things and they also like to copy. Encourage them to sit on their potty often and demonstrate to them what this is all about, telling them what you are doing. Here is an example:
“Mummy (or Daddy) needs a pee pee.” – take them by the hand and lead them to the bathroom.
“Mummy does a pee pee in the toilet.” – point to the toilet and show them where the pee pee goes.
“Mummy is pulling down her pants.” – show them how you pull down your pants.
“Mummy is going to sit on the toilet, you can sit on your potty.” – as you sit down, get them to sit on their potty but without taking their nappy off. Give them praise and tell them how clever they are for sitting on their potty.
“Mummy has finished her pee pee and is pulling up her pants.” – demonstrate how you pull up your pants.
A common question for many parents is, ‘When should I start potty training?’ The answer to this question can often come down to the individual child and how developed they are. Most children under 18 months will not have the ability or muscle strength to hold their bladders or bowels sufficiently for any kind of control. Therefore, it is usually the case that a toddler is ready for potty training from 18 months. Many may not be but many will; you know your child and what they can do already. A safe age range to plan for is between 18 – 24 months.
Again, you know your toddler best and you know what they can and cannot do. In most toddlers, there will be a number of signs that show they are ready to progress with potty training.
Signs to look for:
It is important to realize that although your toddler may display a number of these signs it may not necessarily be the case that they are ready. Consider a child who has a dry nappy after a few hours and can tell you they have done a poop. Actually getting them to sit still on a potty for long enough to train them will be very difficult if they cannot follow instructions and sit still for more than a minute or so. For the quickest and most effective potty training wait until both you and your child are ready.
There are going to be some things you will need to consider using or buying before you start potty training. You may be able to cope without all of them, or you may find you need as much help as you can get. In either case here is a list of just a few items we found useful during this process:
If you have any other suggestions on what is useful, use the contact form to drop us a line and we will add it to the page for others to benefit from.
It is advisable to choose a set of words that you will use to refer to certain things; pee, wee, poo, poop, toilet, potty, fanny, bottom, bum, foo-foo and so on. These are just a few of the word commonly used by parents and children when referring to bodily functions and anatomy. I should probably highlight the cultural differences between the UK and the US when it comes to fanny and bum! If you don’t know what I mean, Google it :o)
If you have common words that you use with your child to describe things tell other people that may visit or help take care of your toddler. Tell them the words that should be used during potty training moments so that your child does not get confused. Otherwise, just as you start to make progress a different word that they don’t know may result in a backward step.