Saturday September 24th 2022

Potty 'training' 101

If we’re using nappies on our babies and toddlers, then at some point, we’re going to want to swap to toilets instead. Here’s how.

Never force your toddler to do potty training. Most parents eagerly anticipate the day because it means an end to changing diapers, and this could result in them becoming too enthusiastic about it.  They understandably want it more for themselves than their little one.

There is no “right age” for potty training. Some children are happy doing it at two, while others take to the pot only in their fourth year! And this is not a reason for considering it a problem.

Your child may be ready to start potty training if she does the following:

  • Pulls her pants up and down
  • Has regular, soft and formed bowel movements
  • Imitates your bathroom habits
  • Can describe stools or urine
  • Understands the physical signal of a bowel or bladder movement and can alert you to it
  • Doesn’t like a dirty nappy
  • Remains “dry” for around three to four hours
  • Wants to be independent
  • Can walk and sit

When you think your little one is ready for training, buy her the right equipment. The potty needs to be stable and she needs to feel comfortable on it. If you suspect she isn’t, then buy one that is. Don’t force her to use it just to save money as you will do her a great deal of harm.

Once a day, after breakfast, sit your toddler fully-clothed on the potty seat. Make this into a routine but do not force her to do it – only if, and when, she wants to. Should she dislike it intensely, then put it away and try again in a few weeks.

The next step, if you’ve managed to sit her on the potty daily, is to start doing it without the nappy. If she produces something, that’s okay, but don’t push her to perform. Wait until she’s ready and shows a clear interest in using the bathroom on her own.

Encourage your little one to use the potty whenever she feels the urge to go, but make sure she clearly understands she can tell you to accompany her if she wants that. Let her, at times, run around without a nappy – but with the potty near at hand – and tell her she may use it whenever she feels the need.

Be prepared to gracefully handle any accidents that may occur and be very careful not to get angry or punish your child. Her bowel and bladder muscles have only recently developed and this is an entirely new and strange activity for her.

Once your little one reaches the stage where she remains clean and dry all day, it may take her several more months, or even years, to master night training. So don’t throw away the nappies just yet. Her body, at this age, is too immature to reliably wake her up at night to go to the bathroom. Don’t let her drink too much before bedtime, and tell her that if she does wake in the middle of the night she may call you to take her to the bathroom. Leaving her potty near the bed is also a good idea in case she wants to use it.

You’ll be surprised that when your child is ready to learn this important skill, she will. It’s kinda “doing the what comes naturally.”