Perhaps your toddler is tugging at their diaper when it’s wet. Or maybe they are watching with intrigue as their bigger sibling (or friend) says they need to use the bathroom. These signs might make you wonder whether it’s time to start potty training your child. Potty training is a key developmental stage – it’s not just a matter of convenience and practicality. It requires the interaction of a toddler’s body and mind, and it’s a big step towards their self-care and independence.1
As a parent, you’ll want to minimise stress, maximise success and support your toddler during their potty-training journey. In this article we will give you some top toilet-training tips to help you and your child feel confident at every stage of the journey.
When should you begin potty training your child?
Children are all different, and they develop at different rates, so age is not always the best indicator of readiness for potty training. You know your child best, but as a general benchmark, children can be ready to start using the potty at 18 months. However, the average age potty training begins is between 2 and 3 years of age, with most children being toilet trained by 4 years old.1
What’s important is that you look out for some of the common signs that suggest your child could be ready to give potty training a go.
Overall, a child needs to understand when their bodies are showing signs that it’s time to pee or poop. They also have to be able to sit or stand comfortably for a few moments, and – with your help – be able to pull their underpants down and back up. Additionally, they have to be willing to use the toilet. Accidents sometimes happen because a child ignores the signals of needing to go to the toilet, or might simply refuse to go to the bathroom.1
7 common signs that your child might be ready to potty train
- Gives you visual or verbal signs they are about to pee or poop, like grunting, squatting, or standing still.1
- Remains dry for at least 2 hours at a time during the day, or after naps.1
- Is able to follow simple instructions such as “Please go get your coat”.1
- Can walk to and from the toilet and can also take their pants down and pull them up.1
- Asks to use the toilet or potty.1
- Finds it uncomfortable to be in wet or dirty diapers and asks to be changed.1
- Shows an interest in wearing ‘big-kid’ underwear.1
7 Tips for making a success of potty training
If you’ve checked our list above, and feel that it might be the right time to start potty-training your child, then here are some suggestions for how to start, continue, and support your child during the early stages.
1. Dress your child so they can easily sit on the potty
This is no time to put your child in clothes with complicated buttons, zips, or layers that prove difficult for your child to remove in order to use the potty. Elasticated waists are your friend here, and you want to encourage your child to be as independent as possible so they can feel in charge of this new stage. Therefore, choose underpants that are easy to pull up and down with ease.1
2. Keep potty time playful
You should aim to keep stress out of the equation by trying to bring an element of fun into the potty training process. Praise, encouragement and even a little bit of songtime when your child is on the potty can be ways to keep the atmosphere nice and relaxed. Also, praise your child when they’ve sat on the potty for a while (even if they don’t manage to pee or poop).1
3. Stick to a basic a routine
Toddlers often thrive on routines, and it can also make it easier for us as parents to be able to identify certain moments in the day for putting our child on the potty. You can set potty times to suit your child’s regular routine, but shortly after mealtimes is wise, and just after a nap, too.1
4. Choose a comfortable potty for your child and make it accessible
You might choose a potty, or a seat that rests on your normal toilet seat. Whatever your choice for encouraging a good potty-training experience for your child, make sure that the potty is accessible to them, and comfortable to sit on. A little bathroom stool is a really handy addition to any household, as it allows your child some independence for getting onto the toilet and for washing their hands afterwards.1
5. Let your child follow your lead
As with many behaviors that you display that your child might pick up on, being a good ‘toilet’ role-model can be a great way to encourage your toddler to go to the bathroom. Letting them experience the whole routine, from saying you need the toilet to washing your hands afterwards, can demonstrate a positive experience that they are likely to want to emulate.1
6. Stay patient and remain positive
Don’t put pressure on yourself (or your child) to make an instant success of potty training. The process can be slow, and sometimes you might feel (especially after a day of accidents) that you’ve taken a step backwards, rather than forwards. Remaining patient will help to show your child that there’s no rush, and you’re here to encourage and support them.1
7. Treat accidents as part of the journey
It’s inevitable that your child will pee or poop in their pants (often several times in one day) during the early stages of potty training. What’s important to remember is that this phase will pass, and that any negativity you voice at this stage can make a child feel anxious, and therefore less likely to want to use the potty.1
If you find that your child is having many more accidents than you anticipated, and it is making both you (and them) unhappy, talk with your pediatrician to see if it would be more beneficial to postpone potty training until your child feels more ready.1
When to attempt night-time potty training
When you choose to start putting your child to bed without a diaper is up to you, but many parents try to keep the focus on getting their child to stay dry during the day before attempting night-time potty training.2
As your child gets more competent at using the potty during the day, you might find that they’re waking in the morning with a relatively dry diaper. This can be a good indication that they might be ready for you to start putting them to bed without a diaper on.2
Ensure that your child doesn’t have too much to drink directly before sleep, and ask them to use the potty last thing before you put them to bed. Placing a protective mat on the bed can help to protect your child’s mattress.2
Remember to praise your child if they’ve had a dry night, and try not to be negative about any accidents that are an inevitable part of this new adventure into a diaper-free life!
Supporting your child through the toddler years
Your toddler might still only be little, but the rate at which they are developing is incredible!
Potty-training is a major milestone, and we want it to go as smoothly as possible for every parent and toddler. Giving your child the right nutrients can help them to thrive through every stage. Enfagrow has DHA, Iron and other key nutrients to support their growth and development. Learn more.