Parenting & Childcare

How To Potty Train Your Child? A Useful Guide


Are you struggling with your child when it comes to potty/toilet training? Are you wondering what you are doing wrong as all your efforts prove futile?  Do you think your child has reached the potty-training age?  If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions; Then you’ve landed on the right page.

Don’t worry as you aren’t alone, it’s a common struggle that several parents face. The process can be gut-wrenching, and you may even contemplate giving up.

Nonetheless, you should know that things are going to be better soon enough. If you are wondering how to navigate the process, then we’ve got you covered. This article contains everything you need to know when it comes to potty training.

When Are Kids Ready To Potty Train?

How do you know your child has reached the potty training age?  First, you have to understand that every kid is different. What you need to do is to read the signs start the potty-training process.

Many children can start showing signs when they are between 18 and 24 months. Other’s may even begin later as every child grows at their own pace. Usually, boys start showing signs later as compared to the girls.  Also, they can take longer to master how to use the potty.

How Long Does It Take to Potty Train A Child?

Before answering this question, it’s probably best for us to outline what we mean when a child is ‘potty/toilet trained’. When your child regularly takes themselves to the potty/toilet when they are awake and they know they need to go, and accidents rarely happen (unless if they are ill or if they are experiencing other changes to their routine or environment), then you have ticked the box for potty training.

Night-time toilet training does not feature in our definition of potty/toilet training within this article as this can be viewed as a separate development stage which occurs when the child is a little older.

So back to the question, the potty-training process can take anywhere between 3 and 6 months. The process may take longer or less depending on the child. When you start training your baby too soon, then the process may take even longer.

Types Of Potty

  1. A toddler-size potty chair – This comes with a bowl that you can empty into the toilet.
  2. A toddler size seat – This kind of potty is placed on top of the toilet seat.  It lets your child feel more secure while using it. Also, it can come with a stepping stool to enable your child to reach the toilet seat comfortably.

For those of you with little boys, when it comes to training your baby, boys need to learn to use the toilet sitting down before learning to pee whilst standing.

Signs That Your Toddler Is Ready For Potty/Toilet Training

The following are signs to watch out for:

1. Your Changing Fewer Diapers

Children pee a lot until they are at least 20 months old. When your kid’s diaper stays’ dry for an hour or two, it’s an indication that they are developing bladder control; hence they are ready for the potty training.

2. Your Child Is Vocal About Going To The Toilet

When your child depicts pooping and peeing through the facial expression, you should think about potty training. Some of the signs they show include; clutching their diapers or stopping for a few seconds.

3. Your Child Notices Dirty Diapers

You may notice that your baby doesn’t want to hang out in their dirty diapers, and they turn their nose out of stinky diapers, just like you do. It’s probably time to potty train your baby.

4. Your Kid Starts Showing Interest In Using The Potty Or Wearing Underpants

Your child may start to wear Pull-Up pants or nappies. They may also get to the potty, sit on it for a few minutes, and get off it.

Ways To Prepare Your Baby For Potty Training

If the baby shows all the signs that they are ready to move to use the potty, you shouldn’t throw away the nappies just yet as there’s still a lot of work to be done.  The following are some of the tips that can assist you with a smooth transition.

1. Be Positive When It Comes To ‘Pottying’ Vibes

Before you go nappy-free, you should help your child understand the benefits of using the toilet. You can mention words such as wearing pants is fun and grown-up or tell them pretty soon they will be able to flush the toilet just like mummy or daddy.

On the flip side, don’t say that nappies are bad things or refer to your kid’s behaviour as childish.  They might develop resistance, prolonging the potty-training process.

2. Use Words To Express The Act Of Using The Toilet

You can use words such as pee, poop or potty. You need to ensure that you are consistent with how you use the words. It would be best if you never referred to the contents of your kid’s nappy as smelly or gross.

Your baby would be more comfortable using the potty when they view the elimination process as a natural process.

You also need to ensure that all baby sitters, including baby sitters, grandparents, siblings, or child care workers, use the same routine and the same names as you use. You should use the same words for bathroom acts and the body parts so that your baby isn’t confused.

3. Identify Leading Behaviors

Randomly stopping whilst playing or going to find a quiet corner can typically be signs of needing the toilet. You can always ask your child if they are going to poop or pee. The process will help your child recognise the urge to pee or poop.

4. Show Your Baby How To Use The Potty

Children love to mimic what others are doing. You can explain to them about squatting, wiping, and flushing. However, for the exercise to be more effective, take them to the bathroom and demonstrate how it’s done.

You can also tell your child to sit on the potty or watch what their elder sibling is doing on the toilet. If you aren’t comfortable with doing the process, then it’s okay to skip this step.

5. Ask Your Child To Sit On The Potty

This is when you notice them depicting clear clues of wanting to visit the toilet. For instance, squatting, crossing legs, and grunting. A potty chair is a great place to start.

6. Bridge the Gap Between The Nappies And The Potty

If possible, you can change your baby’s nappy in a room where you put your baby’s potty. The process enables them to make the connection between the two. Tell them that poop goes into the toilet.

7. Establish A Routine

You can start by having the baby sit on the potty after they wake up with a dry nappy or 45 minutes after drinking a liquid. Place the child several times a day on the potty and let them wake up if they want to wake up and go.

You can also have your child sit on the potty within 15 or 30 minutes after meals. You should take advantage of the body’s natural tendency to have a bowel movement. The process is called the gastro-colic effect.

Also, some kids may have a specific time when they tend to have a bowel movement. You can take advantage of that and introduce them to using the potty.

8. Pick The Right Potty

The right potty would save you lots of disappointments. Go for a durable model and one that won’t tip over when the child jumps out of excitement to check their progress. You can even shop for the potty together with your baby and wrap it as a gift. This would bring excitement to your baby.

Some kids prefer the adult toilet and reject the baby’s potty. In this case, you should buy a potty seat that attaches to the toilet. It would be best if you went for a stable option with a built-in footrest.  A shaky seat can delay the potty-training process and take you back to nappies for several weeks.

9. Offer Rewards and Praise Every Time Your Child Uses the Potty

When your child notices that you appreciate their effort, they will strive to know how to use the potty. Remind them that using a potty is a sign as they are growing up. You could offer rewards like reading or stickers.

Once they master the act well, you can give them the privilege of choosing big kids’ underwear or clothes or buy them their favourite toys. You may also like reading Rewarding Children-When And How?

10. Praise All The Attempts Of Using The Potty

Every time your child uses the potty, even if it’s sitting on the potty and doing nothing, praise them. Accidents will happen during the potty-training process, and that’s okay. Don’t punish your child for this or show any disappointments. Instead, talk to them and assure them that it’s okay and soon enough, they will master the art with ease.

Lastly, don’t force your child to sit on the potty if they don’t want to. It’s a journey, and it needs to start slowly.

Tips On Starting the Potty-Training Process With Your Child

You have to put in the efforts for the process to work. It’s a rollercoaster ride, with ups and downs, but that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible process.

1. Switch To Pull-Ups

The best thing about pull-ups is that your child can pull them down as underpants. Additionally, in case an accident occurs, the pants can absorb the contents like diapers. You can also rip them off, rather than pulling them over the feet.

Pull-ups are great options when starting the potty. Once your baby has had a few successful attempts when using the potty, you can switch to washable cotton training pants.

As handy as pull-ups can be, it’s worth noting the potential flip-side that some can experience. One the child realises that the pull-up will hold any accidents and not make their clothes wet, they could become lazy and fall back into old ways by using the pull-up as an alternative to the nappy. This is probably one where different children will react differently.

2. Teach Your Baby To Check For Dryness

When they know how to do this, then it gives them an added source of control. If the nappies are dry, pat your child on their back; if wet, don’t criticise them as this will demoralise their efforts.

3. Patience Pays

As much as you want your child to master using the potty, you have to be patient. It may take several weeks and even months for a child to be perfect. You are likely to take a few steps forward and several steps back. You have to know this is okay and only have realistic expectations.

Unrealistic expectations can sabotage your self-confidence. Of course, you don’t enjoy mopping a puddle of urine, but try staying cool. Scolding or shaming your child might discourage their future attempts.

4. Let The Baby Bottom Bare

The process helps to boost your child’s awareness of the body signals. You can allow them to play or walk-in areas with washable floors. It would be hard for the child to ignore the urine with no diaper to hold it. Ensure that you keep the potty nearby for your child to spot it easily.

5. Don’t Be A Nagging Parent

Keep it casual every time you remind your toddler to use the potty. When you nag them, they are likely to resist. You can lead them to the potty, but they decide whether to use the potty or not.

6. Give Your Kid Enough Fluid

Most parents ration fluids to cut off the chances of their child having an accident. You have to understand that this approach is unhealthy, unfair, and also ineffective. You need to give your baby enough fluids to increase the chances of succeeding.

7. Don’t Fight Over The Bathroom

When you keep fighting with your baby about going to the toilet, the process might take longer than expected because of the resistance. If you feel your kid isn’t ready yet, then be patient, stop the process for a few more weeks and then try again later.

Lastly, don’t bring up the subject or compare them with other children wearing pants.

When To Hold Off Toilet Training

The following are instances to try hold off trying to potty train.

  • When traveling
  • Birth of a sibling
  • When changing from crib to bed
  • Moving houses
  • When the child is sick.

Common Toilet Problems

At a later stage when you think potty training is established your child may start having accidents. In the event they’ve been using the toilet for so long and still cause accidents, it could be due to stress, anxiety or an underlying health condition. Talk to your doctor if your child regularly finds it hard to use the toilet, or if they are 4 years or older and aren’t toilet trained.

Lastly, don’t forget to carry a potty in the back of your car for emergency purposes during this process. For those of you with little boys, we found this fun looking travel pee cup  very handy for those moments where you can’t find a toilet or a safe place to stop. When traveling long distances, try to stop every two hours and let the toddler use the potty. Also, place a potty in every bathroom of your house.

Final Words

Potty training can be a long and exhausting process. There will be lots of bumps on the way, and disappointments are part and parcel of this journey. As much as the transitioning process from nappies to potty is exciting, you need to practice patience. Sooner or later, you are going to get it right. Just trust the process. All the best!

At this point you may also like going through the A Guide On Ethics In Children

(1) Comment

  1. […] Look for the signs that your baby is ready to use a potty. It could either be the urge to pee or poop. Note that this is different from knowing that he has already gone and asks for a nappy change. Read more about kids potty training here. […]

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