Whether you’re a first-time potty trainer or you’ve been here before, you’ll soon discover that every child is different when it comes to potty training. As with every milestone, there is no textbook approach to toilet training a toddler. Some may take to it straight away, while others may take longer, and this is absolutely fine, the key here is to go at their pace and not compare yourself to others, as you’ll often find that children progress at their own speed in every department and that includes the bathroom!
So, with the vast majority of us now spending more time at home, what better time to begin your potty training adventure than right here, right now! So take a deep breath, you’ve got this. . .
What Age Should I Start To Potty Train?
While there are no hard and fast rules, the recommended age to start potty training is somewhere between 18 months and 3 years. I know this may seem a little vague but as mentioned earlier children develop at their own pace. There’s an argument that boys tend to be little later than girls but you know your child best, so don’t feel pressured, you will soon pick up on the signs that they are ready.
How Do I Know My Child Is Ready For Potty Training?
Your child will soon understand when their nappy is wet or dirty so the telltale signs to look out for include:
* Telling you when they’ve done a wee or a poo, this is a good indication as they are aware of what is happening.
* If your child is not talking by this point, they may still communicate this with you by pointing or pulling at their nappy.
* They have a dry nappy for longer periods and wake up dry from nap time.
How Do I Begin Potty Training?
Now you’ve decided your little one is ready, let’s get a plan in place with 10 simple steps.
Step 1 - Introduce them to the potty.
Try not to fuss too much or they might become overwhelmed. Simply having the potty in the living room or bathroom is a great way to start. You could even have their favourite toy or teddy use the potty as children love to copy.
Step 2 - Let them choose their new pants.
This goes a long way to encourage them out of nappies. You could either make a day of it and take them shopping with you to choose or ask them what their favourite character is and pick up a pack when you’re next out. Then, when they are comfortable in their new underwear, encourage them to stay dry by saying something like “Spiderman won’t like getting wet will he, so please tell Mummy when you need the potty”. This is a top tip from many potty training parents.
Step 3 - Clear your schedule.
Consistency is key when it comes to potty training so pick a time when you don’t have any plans and try to stay as close to home as possible for the first few days at least. Some children will take to it quicker than others so don't be disheartened if it takes weeks, and remember even when they have conquered it, accidents do happen so don't worry, and don’t give up, not now you’ve come this far.
Step 4 - Make It Fun.
Sing songs, praise them and of course, reward them along the way. This is a big step in their development so why not have some fun with it. Rewards charts are a big hit as children love nothing more than a gold star or smiley face against their name. Other ideas include a lucky dip of small toys, or even the odd sweet treat, just be careful not to bribe them. . . save that for later years ;)
Step 5 - Be patient and stay calm.
Accidents will happen and your little one might find themselves frustrated and upset at times, so remember to praise them with every try and reassure them that they’re doing great. When you venture outside ensure they have tried for the toilet before you leave, and always carry a spare set of clothes, just in case.
Step 6 - Keep The Drinks Flowing.
Especially while at home. Children will usually need the toilet around 30 minutes after mealtimes when they’ve typically had more to drink a large drink, so this is a good time to ask them if they need the toilet, just be careful not to overdo it as it could backfire with too much fuss.
Step 7 - Don’t make them sit too long.
You don’t want it to become a battle, a few minutes is all they need. If they don’t do anything at that time, then try again later, you’ll soon get to know their habits.
Step 8 - Day and night expectations.
Your tot may have mastered the potty by day, but night time can take much longer, and this is completely normal. To keep the progression going, you could use pull-ups at night rather than nappies as this signals to them that they are still a big boy or big girl who doesn’t use nappies anymore.
Step 9 - Stick with it.
When you commit to potty training, it's important not to confuse them by giving in, no matter how long it takes. It may be tempting to put them in nappies while out and about or “just this once” but let's be honest, that's more for your benefit than theirs, so as long as you have spare clothes you’ll be just fine. There will be many parents going through the same thing so don’t worry if accidents happen along the way, it’s a learning curve for everyone.
Step 10 - Consistency is key.
Once you have decided to potty train then its important that other carers follow suit. So whether it’s family members, nursery or childminders, they all need to be on board, you’re in this together, plus your little one will be getting praise from lots of people they are familiar with which can only be a good thing!
Potty Training Essentials:
* Spare clothes - Not forgetting the socks, as these will often get wet if accidents happen.
* Pull-ups or nappies for bedtime.
* A bag for any wet clothes.
* Hand sanitiser and wipes.
* Praise, patience and wine, lots of wine.