Potty training is a monumental time for both parents and toddlers. For parents, the time can’t come soon enough, but for toddlers, they usually need some persuading before they’re ready for that level of change and independence. Although a general age to start is between two and three years old, knowing when to start potty training will ultimately depend on when a child is ready.
Potty training readiness differs with each child. Therefore, trying to compare your child to other children never works because each child is different, and if yours isn’t ready for potty training, it can be a greater hassle than necessary. The key thing to keep in mind when learning how to potty train your child is to have a plan, but expect that things may change on the fly. Rather than wait for a certain age as a guiding point to begin, look for these tell-tale signs that your little one might be ready.
They Tell You When They Have to Go Potty
This is one of the best signs to determine that your toddler is ready to start the potty training process. They are alert to their body’s functions and are likely in a place where they can better control their bladders, at least long enough to reach the toilet. Wouldn’t it be nice to have this type of direct communication with them always?
They Pull-off Their Diapers
Once they get a little bit older, toddlers don’t want to sit or play with a dirty diaper. They are eager to have it replaced and may start to pull-off their diaper themselves. This is a prime time to introduce the idea of potty training and let them know they can soon go diaper-free.
They Stay Drier for Longer
When you put your child down for a nap, and they wake up with a dry diaper, it may signal a good time to start the potty training discussion. In the first several months, babies have to pee more frequently and aren’t used to having bowel control. As their schedules start to take shape as they get older, it’s easier to introduce potty training at that time.
They Can Follow Simple Directions
Communication is key when it comes to potty training. If your child understands what you’re saying on a basic level and can follow directions, it makes potty training much easier. This includes the ability to tell them to pull their pants on their own, knowing where to sit to go potty, and sharing when they have to go.
These are only a few of the signs that let you know it may be time to make the transition out of diapers and start potty training.
Best Way to Potty Train
When starting potty training, set your child up for success by giving them the tools and guidance they need. First, decide if you want to try a separate potty chair or a potty seat on the toilet. Your toddler may be more comfortable with their own when getting started and graduate to sitting on the toilet once they’re in a place that feels normal to them.
Switch to disposable training pants during the day (and eventually, at night) as a transition between diapers and underwear. They're not completely like disposable diapers, but they will help you both feel more secure in case there’s an accident. It also gets your child in the habit of pulling their pants up and down on their own when they have to go.
Let them know to alert you when they have to use the potty and celebrate the small wins when they’ve told you in time. An incentive often works when they’ve succeeded, like a penny for the piggy bank or a sticker to add to a chart. It validates that they’re on the right track, and it encourages them to do it more.
Staying dry throughout the night is essential during the training process. To achieve this, limit drinks before bedtime and make sure they go to the bathroom right before snuggling under the covers. This will help keep their bladders empty throughout the night with less of a chance for accidents. Additionally, remind them to go to the bathroom first thing in the morning as well to create a habit for them, which they’ll eventually follow on their own. If you’re having questions like, “What to do when your child holds their poop?” keep reassuring them and on routine. Consistency and practice make perfect!
Potty Train with Patience
Knowing when your child is ready to potty train is important, but it is also vital that the parents are too. Something they don't typically tell you in the potty training books. No matter what potty training method you choose, parents need to be prepared to be very patient. This is a giant milestone in your young child's life, and patience is going to be the best way for you and your child to battle the progression to the toilet seat. Early potty training works if your child can respond to direction and positive reinforcement. This will give your child an interest in using the toilet on their own. Some kids pick up on it right away, while others take longer to get used to the process. There also may be situations when a child may be potty trained and then have a series of accidents. There are going to be many common potty training problems, and how to avoid them will only be learned with patience and time.
The potty training process can feel frustrating at times, especially if there are setbacks, but don’t worry. There’s no exact time or way of knowing when to start potty training; it’s all about the ebb and flow of what works best for your child. Set your own pace.
Potty training is one of the most important parts of watching your little boys and girls grow from a baby to a toddler. Therefore, we hope you enjoyed our tips for potty training. No matter what you decide to do when you transition your child to the toilet bowl, remember to always maintain a positive attitude and your plan will move along more smoothly. Once your child has surpassed their potty training milestone, share a round of high-fives and get excited for what comes next.
Image from @mckaylacarlson