Knowing how to potty train your child will ensure a swift transition from dirty nappies/diapers and wet beds to relative independence. The following ‘how to’ breaks down the stages into easy learning steps.
1- When to start? All children learn to tell when they need to go the bathroom at different ages, although generally it’s from about 2 years on, the early ones being as young as 18 months. Night0time independence can be as late as 8 years, however most should stop wetting the bed by about 5. A child will be ready when they adopt all of the following signs: Begins to dislike wearing a nappy (perhaps trying to pull it off when it’s wet or soiled), has regular, soft, formed bowel movement, can pull their pants up and down, can follow simple instructions such as “Go see daddy”, shows understanding about things having their place around the home, walks and can sit for short periods of time, becomes generally more independent when it comes to completing tasks, becomes interested in watching others go to the toilet (this can be awkward or make you uncomfortable at first, but is a good way to introduce things), has dry nappies for up to two hours – this shows they’re able to store wee in their bladder (which automatically empties in younger babies or newborns), tells you (or shows obvious signs) when they have done poo or wee in their nappy – if they can tell you before it happens, they’re ready for toilet training
2- Things to set-up beforehand. It helps if you already have a day-time routine with your child. This way, toilet activities can easily be slotted in. Then decide whether you want to train using a potty or the toilet. Perhaps find out your child’s preference and go with that. Some parents encourage their child to use both the toilet and potty. You may need a step if they’re going to be using the toilet.
3- Introductions. Introduce and explain the potty or toilet, allowing your child to try it out for size and get familiar with it and allow your child to watch others who are using the toilet, and talk about what they’re doing. Introduce training pants and watch for signs that they might need the toilet, teaching them words that they can use to articulate the sensations.
4- Getting started. Choose a start day, perhaps when you have no plans to leave the house, and don’t use nappies on that day, perhaps even letting your child choose some underpants which can be exciting for them and dress them in clothes which are easy to take off. When you think they may be about to ‘go’, introduce the toilet or potty to them and have them sit on it (sometimes this comes 30 minutes after eating or having a bath).
5- Praise. Give positive praise for efforts, even if they haven’t been ‘fruitful’, but keep raising the bar i.e. don’t keep praising for just sitting on the potty if they’re still just only completing this task for 2 weeks.
6- Reminders. At several points in the day, keep asking your child if they need the toilet. Make sure the reminders are only gentle- you don’t want to pressure them.
7- Clean up. You’ll need to wipe your child’s bottom at first, until they learns how, remembering to wipe from the front to the back, particularly with little girls. Also, teach your boy to shake his penis after a wee to get rid of any drops. He might prefer to sit and do a wee, which can be less messy in the early stages.
8- Washing hands. Teach your child how to wash her hands after using the toilet. This can be a fun activity that your child enjoys as part of the routine.
9- Night time. Even if your child uses the toilet or potty during the day, it’s not time to throw away the nappies just yet – often, children are between three and four years of age before they’re dry at night. Some children still wet the bed at six or seven, or even older. Make it clear to your child that you’ll help them in the middle of the night if they wake up needing to use the potty. Assure them that there’s nothing wrong if they have an accident at night.
Pay attention to your child if she says she needs the toilet immediately. She might be right!
Give your child lots of fibre to eat and water to drink so they don’t become constipated, which can make toilet training difficult. Your child’s diet is the best way to handle this, rather than buying fibre supplements.
The key is to not push your child. Relax and let him learn at his own pace – they’ll get the hang of it when they’re ready. Encourage them with gentle reminders and stories. What your child wants most is to please you, and praising them will tell them what a good job they’re doing.
Check if your child wants to go to the toilet during a long playtime or before an outing. If they don’t want to go, that’s fine.
Try to make sure the potty or toilet is always easy to access and use.
Ask your child to wee just before going to bed, and try to avoid big drinks at bedtime.