Potty training your baby can be a two-edged sword: on one hand you can look forward to not having to change nappies anymore, on the other hand the whole process of potty training can seem laborious and frustrating.
So we have put together these ten potty training tips to help you navigate your way to a nappy-free future with minimum stress.
1. Be patient
Before you begin potty training, remember that this will be a completely new experience for your child. Not only will they have to learn what you want them to do, as well as why and when, their own body also needs to be at the stage where they can control their bowels and their bladder.
2. Don’t compare
Every child learns to control their bowels and bladder at different times, so try not to compare their progress with that of other children their age.
Whilst some children will be potty trained by two years old this is really quite early. On the other hand, by the time they are aged four most children are dry during the day.
That said, you’ll probably find it takes longer for your little one to stay dry through the night, so don’t be surprised if this doesn’t happen until they are between the ages of three and five.
3. Start when they are ready
If you start potty training before your child is ready this will cause a lot of unnecessary stress for both you and your little one. For example, if they are still weeing more than once an hour, potty training will be hard work and there are likely to be lots more accidents.
Instead, try waiting until your child starts letting you know they want to wee or poo or when you notice fidgeting or other signs that they want to go.
Even then, they will need to be able to physically get on and off the potty and understand that you want them to do a wee or poo when sitting on it.
4. Be consistent
Only start potty training when you are sure that you can establish a routine for using the potty. This way you can make it clear to your child that they need to start using their potty whenever they want to go.
For example, there is no point starting potty training a week before heading off on holiday where there won’t be a potty. Likewise, if your baby stays with grandparents or other carers make sure they have a potty at their home or your child will get mixed messages about the importance of using a potty.
Even when you go out, remember to take a potty with you – your whole approach should be aimed at making it clear to your child that there should be no wees or poos without a potty.
5. Show them how
Kids copy – it’s how they learn. So you are in an ideal position to show your baby how a potty should be used. First, show them the potty and explain what it is for, then leave it in the bathroom so they get to understand that this is where people go for wees and poos. Next, show your child how you use the toilet and explain what you are doing. That way, they can see you using an adult ‘potty’ and can copy you. Of course, if you have slightly older children that are already using a potty, your younger child will also learn from watching them.
Just one quick note on boys – make sure to get them to use the potty sitting down before teaching them to use it standing up for wees. This will make the learning process much easier for them.
6. Pick helpful times
You can help your child a lot by keeping an eye on when they are likely to want to poo. If you notice they typically do a poo at the same time each day then try and encourage them to sit on their potty at that time. If they are fidgety or struggle to sit for any length of time, you can always try to distract them with toys to keep them on their potty until they are finished.
Likewise, you could try sitting your child on the potty after mealtimes, as digesting foods often makes them want to poo.
7. Praise success
Praising your child when they use the potty correctly can be a great way to motivate them to use their potty more.
On the other hand, if they don’t quite manage to get to the potty on time or leave any spills or mess, try not to be annoyed. Instead, try to explain again how to use the potty properly and ask them to remember to go to the potty as soon as they feel they need a wee or a poo.
By encouraging them through the mishaps and praising them for perfect potty usage, your child will soon be on its way to getting things right.
8. Use training pants
Training pants or pull-ups can be very useful when you start potty training. That is because they absorb less wee than nappies, so your child becomes more aware of the need to get to their potty on time. What’s more, they can also help your child feel that they are moving on to proper ‘grown up’ pants.
9. Train for night-time after daytime
It usually takes longer for your child to stop wetting themselves and pooing at night than during the day.
A good sign that they might be ready for night-time potty training is when you find that their nappy is dry or only slightly damp in the mornings.
To help them get through the night without any mishaps try to get them into the routine of using the potty just before they go to bed. You can also leave the potty near the bed to start with, so they have it to hand if they need to go in the night.
10. Progress to the toilet
Of course, the whole point of getting your child potty trained is to get them to start using the toilet. However, for little children a normal toilet can seem quite big to tackle so help them out with a clip-on trainer seat and child’s step.
Also, if you have a boy, remind them to sit on the toilet once a day for a poo, as they may forget to do this and end up constipated if they have started standing up to wee.
When weeing, also ensure you remind them to push the toilet seat right back to avoid it falling back on them when using the toilet.
Putting our potty training tips into action
We hope you find our advice on potty training useful. Of course, if you have any other tips that you think it would be handy for our readers to know about, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can add to our list.