Toilet or potty training is a big time in a toddler’s life, not to mention the parent’s! It can be stressful if things don’t go as smoothly as you hope. Some toddlers will learn quickly and others will need some more time, but rest assured they all get there eventually! It is important to try and remain calm throughout the process and encourage your toddler with gentle reassurance and guidance.
It also helps enormously to start the process when your toddler is ready, and not before. For most toddlers this can mean from around 2 years of age up to around 3 or even 3.5 years old. It is important that your child is physically and emotionally ready before you start so you need to let them take the lead a bit. If they are not ready and you try to toilet train, it can set things back a lot and children can also become very upset by it or start holding on, causing pain and constipation.
Some signs that your toddler is ready for toilet training are:
- They can walk and can sit for short periods of time
- They are becoming interested in watching you and others go to the toilet
- They have dry nappies for up to two hours
- They tell you with words or gestures when they do a poo or wee in the nappy. If they tell you before they do it, even better!
- They take their nappy off when it is wet or soiled
If you think your child is ready then you need to decide whether to start with a potty or a on the toilet with a child seat fitted. The potty can be easier because you can move it around the house if you need to. Or you can use both which is a good idea. It is also a good idea to start when there is not a lot of other change going on in your toddler’s life. Learning to use the toilet is a big enough change for them, so avoid doing it as the same time as things like, starting child care, going on a big holiday or bringing a new baby home.
Here are 7 of my top tips to help you have toilet training success:
- Don’t start too early. Wait for at least two of the signs mentioned above before you get going.
- Starting in summertime is a great idea. Being able to let your child run around without a nappy, in a pair of underpants can really help the process. Children don’t like the feeling of being wet or dirty, which is more obvious in pants rather than a nappy. This is more fun in the warmer weather with less clothes to wash!
- Allow your child to feel they are involved in the process. So talk to them about what is happening. Ask them to choose whether they want to use a potty or the toilet. Get them to choose their new grown-up underpants, celebrate the wins with the whole family and something special.
- Reward the wins and ignore the accidents. Having a reward or a star chart can help children track their successes. Small little rewards, like a great sticker or a stamp when they get it right can be all you need. If there are accidents, move on quickly and always reassure your child that they are not in trouble.
- Try to make the bathroom/toilet a fun place. So reading on the toilet or potty, playing in that room, or sticking up fun posters and drawing can make the whole experience less daunting.
- Make up a song or a story that you can do every night before bed. Kids love hearing stories about themselves so having a story about them learning to use the potty or singing a song about it can really help. It doesn’t have to be long, or even musical, just something they can read or sing can make the process fun for them.
- Ask them every 2 hours during the day if they would like to use the potty/toilet but don’t force them if they say no. This allows them to feel like they have some control over things.
Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.