Toilet training children isn’t an easy task.
In fact, many parents rank it as one of the hardest hurdles to overcome with young children.
But, the good news is once you make the leap, it’s going to be worth it. No more nappies!
Let’s start at the beginning: Is your child ready to start the process of toilet training?
You’ll want to first look for cues:
- Is your child old enough? Most experts advise to not begin toilet training before 18 months. Children just aren’t mature enough to recognise the urge to use the toilet. If you ask other parents, most would say between 2 and 3 years old ends up being the right age.
- Is your child interested in the toilet? Do they ask questions about it? These are all signs that a child is becoming more aware of the bathroom.
- Have you noticed that your child’s nappy is staying dry for longer periods of time? For example, if you are out with your child for many hours and come home to find the nappy is still dry, then you know they can store urine.
- Is your child expressing dislike for nappies?
- Does your child know when they are going or when they just went? Ideally, your child should be able to tell you ahead of time.
Once you decide it’s time to start the process, you need to pick a toilet training strategy and make sure you have the right equipment.
- Are you going to train on a small potty just for them?
- Or will you go straight to the regular toilet?
Either way, you should do what you think will work best for your child.
If using a regular toilet, you’ll want to invest in a step stool and an insert to make it easier for your child to sit down comfortably.
Sometimes children find the toilet overwhelming, so it might be easier to start with the small potty.
However, there are advantages to starting with the regular toilet as you won’t have to clean up anything and it’s what children will use outside the home.
Another component to your training is deciding on the words you’ll use for when they need to go to the toilet. Try to keep it consistent. It just makes it easier for them to know how to express they need to go.
Then you need to figure out how you’ll motivate and encourage the use of the toilet as toddlers tend to lose interest in things quickly:
- Stickers or toys?
- A simple reward system like getting to flush the toilet?
Try what you think will work best for your child and see how it goes. Sometimes you’ll find you have to change it up along the way.
Are you ready to do a full-on toilet training?
If you really want to tackle this head on, you might try out the 48 hour method. Dr. Sears, a renowned pediatrician in the United States, warns that this “crash course” toilet training method doesn’t work for all children, but can work if the child is receptive and in a positive mind frame.
Make sure that you have two days to really stick around the house before you start down this road. You don’t want to have to keep putting the nappy back on to leave the house as it might confuse your child.
Many parents, when attempting this method, opt to let their children wear underpants or a big T-shirt for easy transition to the toilet. Another advantage of this method is that children will immediately understand if there is an accident. Most don’t like that feeling so it will motivate them to use the toilet.
You’ll want to concentrate on allowing your child to experience the ebb and flow of using the toilet as this will foster their understanding and independent use of the bathroom.
If this doesn’t work with your schedule, or you don’t feel you can dedicate a weekend to toilet training and would rather implement a gradual approach, that works for many childrenas well.
Other toilet training tips:
- You’ll need to remind your child throughout the day to try going on the toilet. But attempt to avoid nagging as this will make them want to fight it.
- Don’t force them to sit on the potty for long periods as that turns into a punishment.
- To prevent issues, you’ll need to help wipe their bottoms for awhile.
- Make sure they understand the process – use the toilet, wipe, flush and wash hands. Walk them through every step each time, even if nothing happens.
- Praise, praise, praise. Every time there is a toilet success, tell them how proud you are and give any rewards you’ve set up.
- Try to be casual about accidents as they will happen.
Keep in mind, it might not happen overnight. Some children need several starts and stops.
If many weeks go by or it becomes a fight, then stop and return to nappies. Give it a few weeks and watch for signs that you should start again.
You’ll have to remind yourself that it isn’t a race; that you’re teaching a lifelong habit.
Be prepared to explain to your child that they will continue to wear a nappy when sleeping for awhile until you find that they can realistically wake up if the urge to go happens.
This might take months, even years, before children can wear underpants at night. But once you notice that the nappy is dry most mornings or you find your child is waking you up at night to go to the toilet, then you can consider switching to underpants.
Remember we all went through this, so try to keep calm and carry on! Your child will eventually catch on, and you’ll have the joy of celebrating the end of the nappies.
We here at Petit Early Learning Journey will support you and your child as you dive into the toilet training process. Book a tour to learn more about how we work with parents during this time and every phase of your child’s journey.