Most parents eagerly await potty/toilet training as a milestone in their little one’s development, for no other reason than that it means an end to changing nappies (AT LAST). But very few mums and dads are prepared for how long it can actually take. While some can master it in just a few days, others can take several weeks or even months.
Potty training can be stressful for both toddler and parent, especially with firstborns. You and your toddler have a better chance of success if you understand the elements of training and the best approach to take. Here are the basics:
The right time
Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule; it is different for every toddler. Besides your little one’s own readiness, other factors such as upcoming stresses like the birth of a sibling or a long journey need to also be considered.
He or she has to understand their own body’s signals, have some basic communication skills, and be able to pull down their pants and get them up again. A certain amount of balance is also needed for sitting on, and getting off, of the toilet seat.
Just be patient; rushing them when they are not ready will only be counterproductive!
Find out some of the signs that your little one might be ready here.
Taking the Plunge
Once you feel your little monkey is ready and able, take the next step of trying them out on the potty or toilet.
Potties are great, because you can move it to wherever your toddler likes to play or spend time. A place they are comfortable in (as at this point, the bathroom isn’t familiar to them). They also ease any anxiety they may have about the grown-up toilet –fear falling into it or the loud noise of the flush.
Eat, drink and play together for a couple of hours, setting them onto the toilet every fifteen minutes or so. Adding an activity, like reading a book, will make it easier for them to stay on the toilet for a few minutes.
Do not be upset if nothing happens, and make sure praise them for trying, even when there is no result. And when there is something left in the potty, make a big deal out of it!
Repeat the above twice a day for three days. Then it will be time to move on to more advanced potty training (yes, there are different levels of potty training).
Once your toddler has mastered the idea of sitting on a toilet or potty, try a normal, relaxed day at home with no nappies. Let your little one wear big boy or big girl pants and hope for the best!
Now that they have some sense of toilets and what they are for, not having a nappy on might get them thinking, “Where do I put it?”. Keep a close eye on them and keep asking them if they need to use the potty.
If you’re a working Mum it’s best to start this stage on a Friday so you have the weekend.
And if your little one goes to crèche, or stays with a child-minder, be sure to let those caregivers know what is going on. That last thing you need now is your toddler getting confused.
While nappies are gone during the day, it’s still good to use nappies or pull up pants at night. One step at time!
Beyond the Basics
Now ‘how to start potty training’ is crossed off the list, you can finish up the teaching course with your toddler by moving on to the more difficult task of waking up at night and using the toilet. The whole job of potty training will be easier if you teach this part separately.
Now that they are old pros at the daytime use of the toilet, take the nappies/pull up pants off overnight. Let them know to come wake you up when they feel the urge to go and make sure the bathroom or potty is easy to find in the dark (nightlights are key) and that your toddler understands what to do. There will be some mishaps but soon they will get it!
Reward the successes, and be understanding if (more than likely when) there are accidents. Being positive and encouraging are the best ways to success.
If the problem of bed wetting persists for more than a few months, talk to your GP and rule out any possible physical causes.
When it’s over, reinforce your little one’s pride in their achievement by letting them throw away any remaining nappies. And don’t forget to give yourself a nice big pat on the back. Now you won’t have to think about nappies ever again (not until the next little one anyway).