Potty training 101

Though some toddlers adjust in a few days, bear in mind that it may take your little one several months to get into the potty habit. Every toddler is different and there may be setbacks along the way.

Potty training readiness
There’s no right age to start potty training as every child is different. Parents usually think about training when their child is between 18 months and three years old. Most children are between two and two-and-a-half years when they start training. The older your child is the easier and quicker it tends to be.
Don’t feel pushed into toilet training your child too soon due to pressure from other parents or your family. Watch for the signs that your child is ready to start training and don’t start before then.
Talk to your toddler about what you are going to do.

Make preparations
Go on a special trip with your child to buy new pants and a potty. A potty is probably easier to start out with than a toilet. It’s easy to get on and off, and can be moved around the house. However, you may want to buy a training seat to attach to your toilet.
If your child uses a toilet seat, you’ll also need a footstep so your child can stabilise themselves with their feet and push when they need to sit.
You could try using training pants for your toddler instead of, or as well as, proper underwear. Cloth training pants are similar to regular pants, but have an absorbent pad inside to cope with small accidents.
Absorbent, disposable pull-up trainer pants are especially easy to pull up and down. Some parents find these convenient, but some don’t find them helpful, as they don’t feel very different from a nappy.
Wearing real underwear may encourage your toddler to use the potty. You could let them choose pants which have their favourite cartoon characters on them.

Be consistent
Take things slowly to begin with. Encourage your toddler to sit on the potty once a day. This may be after breakfast or before bath time.
Sit your child on the potty after they have just had a wet or dirty nappy. This reinforces what they are meant to do and encourages them to get used to the potty and accept it as part of their routine.
Never restrain or force your toddler to sit there. Don’t push the issue if they seem scared. If they are not interested, just put a nappy back on and put the potty aside for a few weeks before trying again. At this stage, you just want your child to get used to the potty.
If they show an interest, start explaining that this is what mommy, daddy and any older siblings do every day.
Wait until your toddler is ready and demonstrates a clear interest in using the toilet on their own. If you persist when your child is not ready, they’ll get upset and you’ll become increasingly frustrated, turning toilet training into a battle-ground.
You may find that it’s easier to potty train in the summer when there are fewer clothes to take off and washing dries faster. Make sure the potty is always in a convenient place. Being portable, the potty can be used in the garden or whichever room you’re in.
Let everyone who looks after your child know that you’re going to start potty training. Grandparents, nursery staff or child-minders all need to use the same, consistent approach.

Demonstrate how it’s done
Children learn by copying. Seeing you use the toilet will help your toddler to understand the purpose of a toilet. If you have a son, try teaching him to urinate sitting down to begin with.
Talk about how you can tell it’s time for you to go to the toilet. Then explain what’s going on as you go yourself.
Seeing you do it, and talking your child through it step-by-step, will get them used to the whole process.
If your toddler has older siblings, or friends who are potty-trained, your younger child may see them using the toilet. Your child will then see the skills he’s trying to learn being demonstrated.
After you’ve emptied the potty into the big toilet, let your child flush it if they want to, but don’t make them do it if they are scared. Then encourage your toddler to dress themselves and wash their hands when they are done.

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