Potty Training can be an intimidating journey to embark on. Keep in mind that all children follow their own timeline and some will take longer than others to get the hang of it. Be patient and give yourself and your child plenty of grace.
What age is a baby ready to potty train?
Most children are ready to switch to using the toilet between 2 and 3 years of age. Some babies will start to show signs of readiness as early as 18 months, and some will still be in nappies past their 3rd birthday. Try not to push potty training on a child who is not ready as this will cause them to see the potty as a source of stress, therefore causing more accidents.
What about night-time training?
Waking up and getting out of bed to use the toilet can be a tough skill to learn. A child who uses the potty during the day can take months or even years to be accident-free at night. Bedwetting is considered normal until around 6 years of age.
Signs a toddler is ready for potty training:
- Their nappy stays dry for 2 hours at a time
- They wake up from a nap with a dry nappy
- They’re walking steadily and can move throughout the house independently
- They can sit still for short periods of time
- They’re bothered by the feeling of a wet/dirty nappy
- They remove their own nappy
- They are able to tell you before doing a wee/poo in their nappy
- They hide to do a wee/poo in their nappy
- They show interest in the bathroom, the toilet and what you do in there
- They have a desire for independence in everyday tasks
- They can follow simple instructions
Top Tips for Potty Training
Never make your child feel embarrassed or ashamed of an accident. This is a major life change for them, there are going to be accidents. After an accident, have a friendly chat about what you think went wrong and how you might avoid another accident.
Accident-proof your home
Your home may be baby-proofed but is it wee-proof? Put away expensive rugs or valuable upholstered furniture for now. You can’t control where the accidents will occur.
Nappies with wetness indicator
Before you begin potty training you’ll want to know how long your little one can go between peeing. Use nappies with wetness indicators which turn blue in the presence of urine. This gives you a visual cue that your child has done a wee. If the strip doesn’t stay yellow for 2 hours it may be too early to potty train.
Reading books about potty training is a great way to introduce your child to the concept, as well as make them more familiar with the process and avoid feelings of anxiety.
Get the toys involved
Add some fun by potty training their favourite teddy. Tell your little one how much their teddy wants to use the potty and how they can help teddy to learn to use the potty.
Make sure your child can communicate their potty-related needs. For example, they’ll need to say “wee”, “poo” and “I have to go” and be sure what each word means.
Skip pull-ups during the day
Pull-up pants are similar to nappies so your child may not even realise you’re trying to potty train them if you’re using pull-ups.
Choose your time wisely
Begin potty training when you’re able to spend a few days at home. This means there’s always immediate access to the toilet, no major distractions and minimal stress when there are accidents. Once you’re both a bit more confident, start with short trips out.
Always have spare clothes
We know (from the baby poo explosion days) that the worst accidents happen when you forget their spare clothes. Stash spare outfits in the car, in your parent’s house, in their baby bag, etc.
Only dress them in simple clothes
Aim for clothes that can be quickly removed, ideally clothes that your toddler can remove themselves. You don’t want to be racing against the clock undoing dungarees in a public toilet!
Make regular toilet trips
Sitting your child on the potty regularly throughout the day gives them plenty of opportunities to go. It also helps to reinforce the idea that they need to pause what they’re doing and visit the bathroom.
Don’t force anything
Forcing them to sit longer on the toilet or persevere when they’re not ready will only cause anxiety and resentment towards to potty/toilet.
Give them plenty of water and fibre
Pooping on the potty for the first time can be intimidating. Make pooping easier by including lots of fruits, vegetables and water in their diet.
Be their cheerleader
Make a big fuss of them whenever they successfully use the potty or when they ask to use the potty in time. Toddlers love nothing more than attention and will be enthusiastic about anything that gets them lots of praise.
When buying their big kid underwear, choose styles that your child will love. Look for pants with their favourite cartoon characters. This will make them more excited about their potty training journey and make them less likely to want to wee or poo in their cool new pants.