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The Ultimate Guide to Potty Training Your Toddler

Posted by Anne-Marie Perkins on

Just when you thought the 'baby days' were over and life was getting easier with your little one... along comes potty training.

Potty training is a significant step in the life of any young child, and represents a true transition between infancy and childhood. However, before you (and your wallet) can appreciate the benefits of no more nappies, you first have to conquer the first hurdle which is potty training.

For parents potty training can be stressful. It can be messy and exhausting. However, before you start, there are a few things you should watch out for so you know that your child is well and truly ready for toilet training. 

What’s the right potty training age?

Most toddlers go through potty training between the ages of 18 months and three years old. Between the ages of two and three, the capacity of a child's bladder is significantly increased - meaning they can go longer between peeing. It's also around this age when your little one begins to recognise and respond to the feeling that they need to pee or poo. There will, of course, be some kids who are out of nappies faster and others for whom it takes a little longer but, as with most developmental milestones, they all eventually get there.

At Pottiagogo, we have compiled the ultimate guide to potty training for you – which will give you advice on when and how to start and we will discuss any problems or issues that may arise. 

Step 1: Prepare your child for potty training.

There are a few things you can start doing that will make the process a little easier before you start potty training your toddler. Help them to recognise when they're doing a pee or poo and if you notice the signs, ask them ‘are you doing a poo?’. You should also teach them words associated with going to the toilet - choose terms you are happy with such as pee, poo, wee etc. Finally, let them watch you or your partner use the toilet (if you are comfortable) as this will help them get a better understanding. 

Step 2: Make sure your toddler is ready for potty training

Each child is different just like all developmental milestones. So, how do you know when your toddler is ready for potty training? Here are a few things to watch for…

  • Your toddler is uncomfortable in a dirty nappy or starts to pull at their nappy
  • Your toddler tells you when they are about to (or have done) a pee or poo
  • Your toddler is interested in the toilet habits of others
  • Your toddler is able to follow instructions and is capable of using the toilet (eg walking to bathroom and climbing on toilet or sitting on potty)
  • Your toddler understands the words used in toilet training and can say them to you
  • Your toddler can pull their pants up and down
  • Your toddler takes pride in accomplishment 

Step 3: Buy everything you need for potty training

There are a lot of potty training products on the market so before you go out and buy the lot you'll have to decide how to potty train. The basics are:

  • Underwear
  • A potty or toilet insert
  • Something to clean up accidents
  • Wipes for bums and potty
  • Hand sanitiser for when you are on the go!

Step 4: Pick a good time to start

To give yourself the best chance of potty training your little one successfully and quickly, it is essential to time it right. Here are some tips which can help you choose the best time to begin potty training. 

  • When the weather is warm — letting them go nude can help them tune in with their body functions, as there won't be too many layers to remove in a hurry and they won't be sitting on the toilet cold and uncomfortable.
  • When you've got time, choose a time when you can keep an eye on your toddler constantly. If you have other children, ask them for support. 
  • You’ll have more success if you stay home, devote all your attention to your toddler and begin developing routines around potty training.

Step 5: Start Potty Training – Day One

Today is the day. You’ve decided to start potty training your toddler, but also make sure YOU are ready for the day. Take a shower, have some food and take care of anything that may distract you when you should be watching your toddler closely. 

Now… how to start potty training...

  1. Take off their nappy and put on some ‘big girl’ or ‘big boy’ pants. Unless your child is usually dry at night, focusing on day-training at first may be easier.
  2. Take your toddler to the bathroom and explain what they need to do. Use the potty training words such as ‘pee’, ‘wee’, ‘poo’ etc.
  3. Watch for signs that they need to go – such as crossed legs, passed wind, your toddler goes quiet all of a sudden – you should also take them after a nap, after food and at predictable times. 
  4. If you think your toddler needs to go or if they start to go, take them to the toilet. Don’t make them sit for long if nothing happens — as your child will feel like they’re being punished.
  5. Praise your toddler - if they pee into their potty or in the toilet on day one, it is definitely something to celebrate! 
  6. On the first day, chances are you won't get many pees in the potty/toilet. The first day is the day your child learns to identify the necessity of going, so don't be discouraged.
  7. If your child has an accident don’t make a big deal out of it.
  8. Teach them the appropriate wiping technique — even though at first you'll need to clean the bottom of your child. You should also provide them with the correct hand washing technique, too.

Trust in the process. On day two, when your child is having accidents - it's very tempting to get upset. However, it's all about waiting for signs of readiness in your toddler, setting the stage and diving in. While the prospect of ditching nappies is exciting, use your parenting patience to get there. Potty training may seem endless to your toddler, but sooner or later, your little one will get the hang of it and outgrow nappies. 

Need more advice? Visit our blog post ‘Top 10 Potty Training Tips

Good luck!

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