How to potty train your toddler
GET READY… There are plenty of expensive potty gadgets on the market but don’t forget the potty is a short term item and soon your child will want to use the toilet like you. A cheap potty decorated by your child with their favourite cartoon character can be just as effective as an expensive sing-a-long one. If you do choose to spend more on the potty make sure not to show disappointment if your child prefers the one at Grandma’s or Nursery…the aim is positive association and they do not yet understand the value of money. When travelling; pop a plastic bag in the base of your child’s car seat and cover it with a towel, just in case. There are many travel potties on the market, some include disposable inserts. A potty in a carrier bag is just as effective, if not quite as stylish.
GET STEADY… Starting training before your child is ready can be frustrating for both you and them. Think about looking for the Physical Signs of your child being ready as well as their understanding and eagerness. Does your child tell you if they’ve been in their nappy? Some children will hide behind the sofa when they need a poo, or pull at their nappy after a wee to be changed. This is all part of your little one becoming aware of toileting and a sign that they are becoming ready to ditch the diapers. Nappies that are suddenly soaking wet, or completely dry at change times are also a sign that your little one is holding their bladder longer and may be gaining control.
GO! Let’s do it! Pick a day and start in the morning when your child will be feeling fresh and raring to go!
Make the Potty a familiar friend
Before you start make the potty a positive item in your household. Keep a potty in your bathroom and bring it into part of your daily routine. Pop your little one on it whilst you run the bath, or have them sit on it whilst you select their clothes on a morning. Give them a special book to look at whilst sitting on it, or a favourite toy. Each change time let them have a go and praise them for “trying”, but be careful not to make it big deal if sometimes they don’t fancy sitting on it all.
Involve your child
Let your child pick out their own pants in their favourite colour, or with their favourite cartoon character on. Buy lots of cheaper pants too as this will become less important and they may need many changes a day.
Reward, Reward, Reward!
Buy some stickers to use and use them at every use of the potty, make a reward chart to help your child celebrate those all-important successes. Focus on every successful potty trip and quietly brush over the accidents.
Choose Clothing Wisely
Choose easy clothing that your toddler can help pull up and down themselves. Fancy dungarees may look cute but might be a bit slow when speed is important. If they’re in day care send lots of spares. Switch the Clarks for Crocs, or washable pumps – there’s the potential for soggy shoes so ditch the expensive ones for a few days.
Timing is Important
Make sure you do not have any special events over the next couple of weeks where you’d be tempted to switch back to the nappy, this can be confusing for your child. Attending a big family event with a toddler can be stressful at the best of times so choose a time when you have a couple of free weeks in your calendar.
Schedule Regular Toilet Breaks
Your child may not necessarily recognise “the urge” straight away but they may still be capable of holding their bladder. Schedule regular toilet trips before/after snack and meals, before leaving the house, or going out to play etc. Look out for tell tail signs like dancing on the spot or fidgeting with their pants. They will start to recognise the signs themselves as they become more competent.
Give Playtime Some Respect
Try not to interrupt your child in the middle of a focused play session as this can be frustrating for them and can quickly turn toilet training into an annoying interruption for them. Looks for natural breaks in your child’s play, like if they come to ask you for something, suggest you fit in a quick toilet break before carrying on.
Do not worry about dry nights
Each child is unique and whilst some quickly have dry nappies on a morning, some may be much older before they bodies mature to this kind of control. Allow them to take their time and don’t force it. Look out for Blog Post “Top Tips for Dry Nights” for other strategies.
Go at your child’s pace
Some children take to pants like a duck to water. For some the loss of the security of the nappy can be unsettling. If your child is struggling “letting go” on the potty – try placing a nappy into the potty for them to sit on, change this for a layer of toilet roll as they become more confident.
It’s quite normal for some children to regress a little after a few weeks of success. Don’t worry. They have just become a little more relaxed about the whole thing now they’re picking up their new skill, and the novelty has worn off. Stay positive and make sure you schedule in regular toilet breaks for them, don’t just leave them to ask themselves. By now you may find a rhythm to their toileting habits, and things will settle into a nice little routine.
When regression is a worry…If an older child has previously been dry and suddenly starts having toileting accidents be aware there may be something worrying them which you will need to explore before you can solve the toileting issue.
The end is in sight! Our lovely little people grow so quickly before long you’ll be looking back longingly at the nappy bag and thinking how much they’ve grown…
Time for another baby?
BLOG by Vicky Hallas-Fawcett (Director – Little People Nurseries)