Is your tot ready for potty training?

Potty training is a significant milestone for both children and their parents. Timing and patience are the keys to success.

Is your tot ready for potty training?
 While there is no perfect age to begin potty training, most paediatricians agree that a child is usually ready to begin the process around 18 to 24 months old.

Are you counting down the days until you can ditch nappies for good? Or maybe you’ve already dabbled in a few less-than-successful potty training attempts?

Either way, your toddler has to be good and ready for potty or toilet training to stick. And don’t worry, they will be someday! Potty training success is determined by physical, developmental, and behavioural milestones rather than age.

Between the ages of 18 and 24 months, many children exhibit signs of being ready for potty training. Others, on the other hand, may not be ready until they are three years old. 

Signs your child is ready for potty training

These signs could indicate that your child is ready for potty training:

  • Your child is able to walk to and sit on a toilet.
  • Your child can pull their pants down and back up.
  • Your child is capable of remaining dry for up to two hours.
  • Your child is able to understand and follow simple instructions.
  • Your child tells you when they need to urinate.
  • Your child shows signs of wanting to use the toilet or wear “big-kid” underwear.

Ready, set, and go!

When it’s time to start potty training, do the following:

Choose your words carefully: Choose the words you’ll use to describe your child’s bodily fluids. Avoid using negative terms like nasty or stinking.

Prepare the necessary equipment: Install a potty chair in the bathroom or, at first, wherever your child spends the majority of their time. To begin, encourage your child to sit on the potty chair while wearing clothes. Assure that your child’s feet are resting on the floor or a stool. 

Talk about the toilet in simple, pleasant words: To demonstrate how a toilet or potty works to your child, empty the contents of a dirty nappy into the potty chair and toilet. Allow your child to flush the toilet.

Make time for bathroom breaks: Allow your child to sit on the potty chair or toilet for a few minutes without a nappy at two-hour intervals, as well as first thing in the morning and soon after naps. 

Don’t leave your child alone: Stay with your child and read a book or play with a toy with them while he or she sits. 

Thank your child for trying: Even if your child merely sits on the potty or toilet, thank them for trying and remind them that they can try again later. 

Take the potty with you: When you’re away from home, bring the potty chair with you. Some children prefer to use a potty they are familiar with than toilets in unfamiliar settings.

Watch out for signs: Respond quickly if you see signs that your child may need to use the bathroom, such as fidgeting, squatting, or holding the genital area. Help your child get familiar with these signs so that they can stop what they’re doing and go to the bathroom. 

Talk to your child about hygiene: To prevent germs from spreading from the rectum to the vagina or bladder, teach girls to wipe gently from front to back. Afterwards, make sure your child washes their hands.

Invest in training pants: After a few weeks of successful potty breaks and staying dry during the day, your child may be ready to switch from nappies to training pants or underwear. 

Celebrate the change:  Consider utilising a sticker or star chart to reinforce positive potty behaviour.

Give it time: Take a break if your child refuses to use the potty or toilet. Most likely, your child isn’t ready yet. Try again in a few months.

A word on training at night

Between the ages of five and seven, most children can sleep dry at night. In the meanwhile, when your child sleeps, use disposable training pants and mattress coverings.

Accidents can and will happen

Don’t get frustrated if your child has an accident. While some children master potty or toilet training quickly, successful potty training can take as long as a year for other children. This process takes patience, preparation and praise!

Allow your child’s motivation to drive the process rather than your own. Try not to associate your child’s intelligence or stubbornness with potty training success or failure. Also, keep in mind that accidents are unavoidable, and punishment has no bearing on the outcome.

Plan toilet training for a period when you or a caregiver will have the time and energy to be consistent every day for a few months.

To deal with mishaps:

  • Maintain your composure: Do not shout, discipline, or shame your child when accidents happen. 
  • Prepare ahead of time: Keep a change of underwear and clothing available, especially if your child is going to school or child care.

When should you seek assistance?

If your child appears to be ready for potty training but is experiencing difficulty, consult with your child’s doctor. They can offer advice and investigate to determine if there is an underlying issue.