Potty training can be nerve-racking and exciting at the same time. On one hand you’re being liberated from buying and changing nappies, but on the other hand you’ll be teaching your toddler a new skill and potentially facing some “accidents” along the way. If your child is truly ready and you have the right amount of time and patience, the training process should go smoothly.
Signs your baby is ready for potty training:
- They’re coordinated enough to walk, and even run, steadily.
- They urinate a fair amount at one time.
- They have regular, well-formed bowel movements at relatively predictable times.
- They have "dry" periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows that their bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine.
- They can sit down quietly in one position for 2-5 minutes.
- They can pull their pants up and down.
- They dislike the feeling of wearing a wet or dirty nappy.
- They show interest in others' bathroom habits (wants to watch you go to the bathroom or wear underwear).
- They give a physical or verbal sign when they’re having a bowel movement such as grunting, squatting or telling you.
- They demonstrate a desire for independence.
- They can follow simple instructions, such as "go get the cup”.
- They understand the value of putting things where they belong.
- They have words for ‘wee’ and ‘poop’.
Prepare for it to take a few months. Don’t expect your younger child to have the same timeline as your older child. Boys tend to train a bit more slowly than girls, while second (and subsequent) children might learn quicker than firstborns. If your toddler is experiencing any turmoil or major change in their lives, like having just started preschool, the potty-training process could hit some snags, or even lead to some regression. Consider holding off until things settle down and try again after a short while with loads of love and encouragement. Never restrain them or physically force them to sit on the potty, especially if they’re scared.
How to potty train, step by step:
- Buy a potty or a special adapter seat that attaches to your regular toilet with steps. Try get your toddler to help choose it – this way you have their buy-in, and they feel part of the process. Note that their feet need to reach the fall to pass stools.
- Set your child on the potty seat, fully clothed, once a day – after breakfast, before their bath, or whenever they’re likely to have a bowel movement.
- Once they’re comfortable with this routine, have them sit on the potty bare-bottomed by themselves.
- Demonstrate how you use the toilet. Explain what you’re doing, from wiping with toilet paper to washing your hands.
- Praise your child whenever they use the potty and consider a star/rewards chart so that they can see their achievements and feel proud.
- Encourage them to help you flush. If your toddler is frightened by the noise of the toilet flushing, wait until they have left the room before flushing.
- Sing a special song such as, “this is the way we go to the loo, go to the loo, go to the loo…”, or use storybooks to explain what is happening.