Updated: Jul 24
Written by Saima Umair
Potty training is a huge milestone in a child’s life and for many parents it can be a roller coaster ride.
When to start potty training?
Is my baby old enough?
How should I go about it?
Should I do the potty train them for the nights as well?
So many questions when you begin. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or the third time, every single time and every child is a different experience.
Here are some tips to help parents make this task a little less scary.
When to start?
At The Right Age
Potty training is possible when a child’s bottom muscles are strong enough and he is able to have some sense of control over his bladder. This usually happen anytime between the age of 18 to 36 months. Therefore, potty training is recommended around the age of 2 years old.
You’re Changing Fewer Diapers
Until they're around 20 months old, toddlers still pee frequently. But once they can stay dry for longer, about longer than an hour or two, it’s a sign that they’re developing bladder control and are becoming physically ready for potty training.
Bowel Movements Become Regular
Her bowel movements are often around the same time daily.
Your Little One Will Be Able To “Announce” It To You
Your toddler will start using baby language like “pee pee” or “poo poo” to refer to needing to pee and poo.
Your Child Notices (and doesn't like) When He Has A Dirty Diapers
Your little one may not like having a dirty diaper and request for an immediate change to a fresh diaper.
How to start
Choose The Right Equipment and space
Firstly, you’ll need the right toilet seat. Obviously, adult toilet seats are too big for your toddler. Many toddler toilet seats comes with handles on the sides or a build-in foot rest to give better support and stability to your toddler.
Why not take your child shopping with you and let her decide which potty seats she likes. Getting your child involved is an excellent way to encourage her to look forward to the new experience and help ease the stress of the transition.
Set up the potty in a comfortable and easy to access spot. If the bathroom or toilet is too small, would it be possible to set it up just outside the toilet? Should the the toilet is too far way from her playroom or living room, maybe find a quiet corner not too far to set up her "special corner".
Having a fixed spot will help her know which direction to head to should she need to use the potty.
Communication is Essential
Talk to your toddler. Explain and talk her through the process in simple terms. Explain to her when you are with her buying her a toilet seats and again when you are setting it up for her to use.
Though she may not be able to grasp the concept completely by simply listening to you, she will be aware that a change is coming. And having a trusted care taker to explain and reassure her will give her a sense of comfort.
Lead By Examples
At around the age of 2, my toddler tagged along when I needed to go. I also used toys and books to help explain and incorporate the new change into her daily routine.
Look for signals
Squirming, squatting, making specific faces, being still or holding the genitals could all be possible signs that your baby needs to use the toilet. Keep a lookout for these signals and help them reach their potty in time.
He may not be able to hold it long enough to reach their potty in the beginning. Make him walk up to the potty and sit nevertheless, to help him familiarize with the complete action. Eventually he will get there on time.
Note the time
If your toddler has begun to consistently have his bowel movements at about the same time daily, be proactive by taking him to the toilet regularly at those critical times.
Otherwise, taking him regularly to the potty in the interval of 1.5hours to 2 hours is a good way to go about tackling potty training at the beginning.
When your baby is ready for his potty training, you may start using pull up diapers. They can be easily pulled down when needed. Also ensure you dress you toddler in easy to remove cloths to eliminate additional effort that may result to being frustrated and anxious.
Don't avoid drinks
Never avoid giving fluids to your child in the hope to reduce accidents. In fact, the better tactic is to increase fluid intake and offer more her more opportunities to succeed.
I have establish a comfortable potty routine. What’s next?
Congratulate him on every success. Offer simple but fulfilling rewards such as stickers in his favourite shape. These rewards keep things interesting for your toddler. Once he masters the potty, you can phase out the rewards system and let his inner motivation take over.
Appreciate Them For Not Wetting Their Clothes
Make a point to praise and give attention to the fact that she is dry and did not wet her clothes. Make it a hug!
No Negative Comments
Don't scold, punish or shame your baby. If you overreact, you might discourage your toddler's future attempts.
Keep it casual when reminding your toddler about using the potty. Nagging will only provoke resistance. Similarly, don't force him to sit or stay on the potty when he is not ready.
Switch From Diaper To Underwear
When your child is ready, switch from using diapers to underwear. Make sure you buy appropriate and comfortable underwear. In fact, bring your child shopping with you.
Children underwear nowadays comes in all sorts of colors and designs. Let her choose what appeals to her.
Accidents Will Happen
Remember, accidents will happen. Stay calm and be prepared with several sets of change of cloths. Don’t penalize your child for accidents when they happen, instead offer word of encouragements and always keep a positive outlook.
Potty Training While Travelling
When travelling, always make time to take regular toilet breaks. A good rule of thumb is to take a toilet break every 2 hours. Take him to the toilet before leaving home and before getting into a car/train/plane.
Even if your child says she doesn’t need to use the toilet, encourage her to try. Most stores sell travel potty that comes in different sizes and function. Having a travel potty eliminates the hassle of looking for a toilet the very last minute.
Potty Training At Night
Most potty trained children will gradually stop wetting their diaper at night too. There will come a point where they wake up to ask to go to the toilet. This can happen soon after they are potty trained in the day or much later.
So, continue using diapers during night time and when you see progress, gradually stop using diapers at nights. This is my personal experience with 2 children.
If you are no longer using diapers for bedtime, ensure you take your child to pee right before going to bed. If necessary, you may need to take him to the toilet once in the middle of the night too.
Protect your child’s mattress with the mattress covers. And remember, accidents happen and that it is ok.
Finally, after all your attempts, if potty training is not working, do not worry. Give yourself and your child a pat for trying and take a break. Tray again in a few weeks.
Never compare one child to a sibling or a friend’s child. Each and every child is different. Some children are not ready till the age of 3 or more. There is no rush. Every child grows at different rate.
What’s important is that you are helping your child learn new skill and showing her that learning new skills can is fun.
Saima is a stay at home mum of 3 children, aged 9, 6 and 2. She has experiences in teaching as well as in Human Resources and is currently a freelance blog writer. She loves arts and crafts, especially as an activity with her children.