Potty training is a significant milestone in your toddler’s development. But it’s important to remember there is no one-size-fits-all formula when teaching children to use the toilet – and there are bound to be a few little accidents along the way!
To help you both get off on the right foot we’ve put together some top tips for toilet training. They’ll help with everything from knowing when your child is ready to start potty training, to rewarding them when they use the potty correctly.
1) There’s no rush! Wait until your child is ready
Remember every child is different. Potty training isn’t a race and nor should it be competitive. Don’t worry if children of a similar age to your son or daughter have already started potty training. You’re much more likely to be successful – and you’ll save yourself a lot of stress – if you wait until your child is ready.
Research shows that the capacity of the bladder increases significantly between the ages of two and three. So most parents begin to think about potty training from around two and a half, but don’t feel pressured if that isn’t the right time for your family; potty training isn’t related to intellect and doesn’t correlate to other forms of development. If your child was early to start speaking, for example, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll take to potty training quickly.
Here are a few signals that suggest your child is ready to start using a potty:
- They stay dry for at least one hour (if not two) between wet nappies. This is a good indication that your son or daughter has some control over their bladder and bowels.
- They indicate when they are going to the toilet. Children may move somewhere else, concentrate on what they’re doing, or even tell you they’re using their nappy.
- They know when they have a wet or dirty nappy. Because modern nappies are very absorbent, you could help your child to recognise the sensation of having a wet nappy by putting a non-absorbent liner (like a sheet of kitchen towel) inside their nappy.
- Their language skills are developed enough to understand instructions like, “go to the potty” and they’re coordinated enough to sit, stand and pull up the underpants without too much assistance.
2) Choose a time when things are calm at home
As important as it is for your child to be ready to begin potty training, parents also have to have the time and patience for the job.
Stressful, hectic months won’t be ideal for toilet training. If you’re moving house, expecting a baby, your children are starting nursery or you have a particularly busy period of work and family commitments to juggle, think seriously about whether you want to add potty training to your plate right away.
3) Getting started
There are a host of different potty training methods suggested by childcare experts. Some recommend keeping a potty in the bathroom from early infancy so that it is a familiar, non- threatening object.
Others say taking your child to choose their own potty, making a big fuss about being a big boy or girl and even letting them decorate their potty is the best way to encourage ownership and get your child interested in potty training.
Ultimately you have to decide based on what you think will work best for you and your toddler.
However you introduce the potty to your household, we recommend having one upstairs and one downstairs – so they can always be reached easily when you’re toilet training.
Pull-ups, or potty training pants, can also be useful when you begin toilet training. They should be treated as an inbetween step to grown up pants, and you should still encourage your child to keep them dry, but pull ups can be convenient in the early days when accidents are quite likely to happen!
Story books about potty training can also be a great help when you’re getting started. They’ll help make the process fun and positively reinforce what you’ve been teaching your little one. Some of our favourites include:
4) Praise and Positive Reinforcement
KEEP POTTY TRAINING FUN! This is one of the most important tips for successful toilet training. Children just want to enjoy themselves and they’re far more likely to get the hang of using their potty if you make it fun.
Whenever they use the potty properly pile on the praise and let your toddler know you’re proud of them. Rewards and incentives can also work really well to keep your son or daughter interested in using the potty.
Quite often it can happen that, after a good start, a toddler can simply lose interest and focus with toilet training – which can be frustrating! Praise and little treats when they use the potty correctly should help incentivise this good behaviour.
What you use as a reward is up to you. It could be something as simple as a big hug and a high five or perhaps their favourite food or TV show.
One effective idea is to create a potty training sticker chart. This way your toddler is rewarded whenever they use the potty correctly with a sticker and they can see how well they’re doing. You can find plenty of fun, printable versions here or you could even have your child make their sticker chart.
Potty training takes a little time and lots of patience. Forget wonder methods that claim to have children dry in a week – toddlers have never kept to adult timescales, and nor should they!
It will help to be as prepared as possible during potty training – have spare underwear on hand and make a note of where the nearest toilet is when you’re out of the house. Though there are bound to be accidents and last minute ‘emergencies’, that’s all part of the learning process.
Children will get used to using the potty properly in their own time and what’s most important is that neither you nor your child get too stressed about the potty training process – it won’t benefit either of you! If you have any other tips for successful toilet training we’d love to hear them! Share in the comments section below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages.