Introduction to Potty Training
It’s natural as parents, especially first time ones, to hurry our child along to the next big milestone. First, it may be weaning, then walking and even talking. It’s like we just want the next stage to hurry along. However when it comes to the milestone of potty training, I think some parents can run for the hills. They then wish to go back. But potty training is an essential stage to go through. It teaches our little ones the next thing to master. It can take time; it takes a lot of patience. But with this guide, you will sail through this stage no problem.
What is potty training?
Essentially potty training is very self-explanatory. It is teaching your child to use a potty which would eventually lead on to the use of the toilet. It signifies the end of diapers. Which can mean a cost saving to the parent. It introduces your little one to the world of big kid pants. This skill is something that needs to be mastered before they attend school. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Some methods will work for one child while another may take more time and patience. The key is to take each day as it comes, and then perhaps seek solace in your choice of drink at the end of the day.
When do you start potty training?
There is no standard age that a child is ready to begin potty training. However, it is worth remembering that they begin to develop the skills needed for it between the ages of 18 months and three years old. That said, it is a well known fact that girls tend to be ready earlier than boys. The average age seems to be a few months after a child’s second birthday. There are some signs to look out for that would signify when your child is ready. They don’t have to all be achieved before you begin the process. But this gives you an idea.
- Has regular soft formed poos at predictable times. They won’t poop during the night anymore.
- Has dry periods lasting between one and two hours during the day.
- Can pull their pants up and down with little help.
- Shows an interest if you go to the toilet
- Do they show a willingness to please?
- Are they demonstrating independence and wanting to do things themselves
- Doesn’t like their nappy on when wet or dirty
- Can they understand and follow simple procedures
- Do they tell you when they need a wee or poo or when they have been?
- Do they have words for a wee and poo?
These are just some of the things to look out for that will signify your child is ready to try potty training. Timing is everything. So if a new sibling has entered the family or a change of routine has occurred, like a new day care, it would be advisable to wait until things have settled.
Is it different for a boy and a girl?
Every child is different, but it can be different to potty train a boy to a girl. Firstly a girl may show signs of being ready before a boy. A boy will most commonly be closer to the age of three than two when they accomplish potty training. Also, there is the way a girl and a boy would eventually use a toilet. They are different. Which is why it’s worth remembering that later on when we look into different advice for one or the other.
What do I need to buy?
Potty training requires a few necessary purchases. A potty being the obvious one. However there are a few other things to consider:
- A toddler toilet seat to fit on top of the regular seat
- Pull up pants
- Trainer pants
- Toilet footstep
- Travel potty - not an essential but may come in handy
- Plenty of wipes
You have to appreciate that potty training won’t be the most glamorous part of parenting. There will be the occasional spillage and cleaning potties aren’t a pleasant task.
What doesn’t work when it comes to potty training?
This stage of any child’s life can be confusing. So it’s best to approach with an open mind. There is no set age to start, so while you may think it’s a perfect time. It may not be for your child. Look out for the signs and judge your child’s reaction. What doesn’t work is adding too much pressure, or getting upset with situations. Accidents are going to happen, so don’t make a big deal out of them. Accept this stage and just go with the flow. Pressure and insistence could cause you child to rebel and not want to learn. This could set them back. If they are showing signs of unwillingness, give it a few days and then re-visit it.
What works well in potty training?
You will find that praising your child for a job well done will always be something that works. Sticker reward charts, prizes at the end of the week and good old fashioned praise. Children show a willingness to understand things and also get approval from their parents. What also works well is having a male role model for a boy and female role model for a girl. They learn a lot through observation, so it’s key for them to see how using the toilet works.
How to potty train
If you are going to start, then you have to go fully into it. There is no point half heartedly trying because this could confuse your child. The main things to do would be as follows:
- Remove nappies and focus on pants. Pull ups work well but sometimes it’s best to skip the middle stage and start with proper pants. A child has more awareness of being wet in pants.
- Keep a few potties around the house and have one near to wear your child plays. Encourage them to sit on it a few times.
- Being naked can make them more aware of when they need to go but don’t do this for too long. At the end of the day, a child will be wearing clothes in the outside world so it’s best to teach the skills necessary for that. It’s worth trying at the beginning and then making sure clothes are added afterwards.
- Talk to your child about what the potty is and what it is for. Be consistent and always ask them whether they need it. At first, they won’t know what is happening, so it’s up to you to remind them of what you are doing.
- Accept there will be accidents. So keep spare pants and clothes close by. Don’t get angry or upset with your child. Dismiss it as an accident and reassure them to tell you the next time they need it. They won’t like the feeling of being wet so they will learn how to do it.
- Praise them for using the potty. You may find that you just have success with weeing in the potty at the beginning, but the poop will come eventually.
Advice for potty training a boy
When boys are older, they will be standing to wee in a toilet. But at the beginning, it is advisable to potty train them sitting down until they are comfortable. It is best to encourage them to push their penis down, so they limit any spray and accidents. This teaches them to aim before they need to do it in a toilet. As he gets used to it, then you can introduce standing. A foot step would be advisable. This would be a good time for him to see how dad or another male does it. They learn a lot through observation.
Advice for potty training a girl
A girl will always be sitting down so the skills they learn at the beginning will help see them through the rest of the stage. However, It’s best to encourage them to sit further into the potty more so that they avoid any over spray. At this time, it’s advisable to teach her to wipe, or pat, front to back. It would also be good to encourage her to sit with her legs apart and relaxed.
Potty training in two days
Quick training can work for some parents and children. But not for others. So bear that in mind if you decide to take this approach. It does mean that you get the job done quickly. This type of method takes a bit of preparation, and it’s advisable to put the plan into action over a weekend period. A month before you start you should check your child is showing signs they are ready. This could cause more harm than good if they are not ready to start. Talk to your child about what is going to happen. Then, a week before, explain that the diapers are going to go on such a date.
Get up as soon as your child does. Let them go naked from the waist down for the rest of the day. You and your partner will then need to take turns keeping a close eye on them showing signs of needing to go. When they start to go whisk them off to the nearest potty and place them on it. Be consistent. Another way is to drink plenty of water yourself so that you need to go to the bathroom regularly. Each time take your child with you so that they see what you are doing.
Before any nap times or bedtime encourage one last potty trip before. Then place a nappy on to avoid any accidents in the night or during the nap.
On day two follow the same pattern except leave the house. Make sure you child uses the potty before hand and then spend some time outside. This will teach your child to go to the bathroom before leaving the house. It will also be advisable, judging on how well the first day went, to use pants and clothes. This will encourage the pulling up and down before going to the potty. Remember you and your partner still need to keep a close eye on your child showing signs.
Continue from there but at this stage, you should have cracked it. This method requires you to be consistent and on the ball. That weekend will be about potty training only. Once it is over and you have had success you just need to stick with it, gradually going back to a normal routine. Except there will be no diapers.
The non-pressure approach
Another approach would be to take it slowly at your child’s pace. This means that you let them guide you. You are not so insistent, and there is no pressure to get it done. It can take longer, but it will still provide the same results.
I hope this guide has answered any questions you have about potty training. Good luck with this phase.