So it’s time! Errm…how do you even know for sure?
It probably seems like just yesterday that you changed your toddler’s first diaper, and now you’re wondering if it’s time to start potty training. There’s no magic age at which children are ready to start learning how to use the potty, but some develop the necessary physical and cognitive skills between 1 1/2 and 2 years of age.
Many parents don’t start potty training until their children are 2 1/2 to 3 years old, when daytime bladder control has become more reliable. And some children aren’t interested in potty training until they’re closer to 3, or even 4.
Here are some questions that can help:
Can he/she walk and even run, steadily?
Does he/she urinate a fair amount at one time?
Does he/she have regular, well-formed bowel movements at relatively predictable times.
Does he/she have “dry” periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows that the bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine.
Can he/she sit down quietly in one position for two to five minutes?
Can he/she pull pants up and down?
Does he/she dislike the feeling of wearing a wet or dirty diaper?
Does he/she show interest in others’ bathroom habits (wants to watch you go to the bathroom or wear underwear).
Does he/she give a physical or verbal sign when he’s having a bowel movement such as grunting, squatting, or telling you.
Is he/she resistant to learning to use the toilet?
Now that we know that we’re on track here are a few tips to help you on this journey:
Pull out the equipment
Place a potty chair in the bathroom or, initially, wherever your child is spending most of his or her time. Have your child decorate the chair. Encourage your child to sit on the potty chair — with or without a diaper. Make sure your child’s feet rest firmly on the floor or a stool.
Help your child understand how to talk about the bathroom using simple, correct terms. You might dump the contents of a dirty diaper into the potty chair to show its purpose, or let your child see family members using the toilet.
Schedule potty breaks
If your child is interested, have him or her sit on the potty chair or toilet without a diaper for a few minutes several times a day. For boys, it’s often best to master urination sitting down, and then move to standing up after bowel training is complete.
You could give your child a toy to use while sitting on the potty chair or toilet. Stay with your child when he or she is in the bathroom. Even if your child simply sits there, offer praise for trying — and remind your child that he or she can try again later.
When you notice signs that your child might need to use the toilet — such as squirming, squatting or holding the genital area — respond quickly. Help your child become familiar with these signals, stop what he or she is doing, and head to the toilet. Praise your child for telling you when he or she has to go.
When it’s time to flush, let your child do the honors. Make sure your child washes his or her hands afterward.
Ditch the diapers
After several weeks of successful potty breaks, your child might be ready to trade diapers for training pants or underwear. Celebrate this transition. Let your child pick out his or her underwear. Once your child is wearing training pants or regular underwear, avoid overalls, belts or other items that could hinder undressing.
Most children master daytime bladder control first, often within about two to three months of consistent toilet training. Nap and nighttime training might take months or longer. In the meantime, use disposable training pants or mattress covers when your child sleeps.
Know when to call it quits
If your child resists using the potty chair or toilet or isn’t getting the hang of it within a few weeks, take a break. Chances are he or she isn’t ready yet. Try again in a few months.