Potty training was one of those things I was really dreading having to do. I had no idea how to begin and I hated the idea of all the accidents and mess I expected there to be!
These tips are simply things that I have learned from our experience of potty training, which I will say hasn’t been anywhere near as stressful and messy I was expecting it to be!
1. Don’t start too early.
Although my daughter was showing the signs that she was ready to start from about 24 months, I certainly wasn’t ready to start training her at that time! We started potty training when she was 2 1/2 when we were BOTH ready and it has made the process much less stressful than it otherwise could have been.
Starting potty training before your child is truly ready doesn’t mean you’ll finish sooner – it’s more likely that the process will just end up taking longer.
Although some children develop the necessary physical and cognitive skills between 18 and 24 months 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.
You know your own child better than anyone else, and they tend to show signs that they’re ready to start trying potty training. Things like: telling you when he/she is having a wee or a poo; following simple instructions (like, ‘Go get the toy.’) pulling his/her pants down; showing an interest in bathroom habits.
2. Use high value rewards.
I’ve never been keen on the idea of using chocolate or sweets as a reward for children, but as I struggled to get my daughter to just SIT on the potty never mind actually DO something in it, I quickly realised it was going to have to be REALLY worth sitting on the potty in my daughter’s eyes. So I succumbed to using chocolate buttons for the first couple of days of potty training.
Very quickly my daughter forgot about the chocolate because we also made a huge celebration out of every wee on the potty with high fives, dancing and telling everyone in the house (including the dog!!) how brilliant she was for having a wee in the potty!
I have also blogged about the ‘my wee friend’ that we stuck to the bottom of her potty. Every time she had a wee a smiley face appeared and she was always very keen to see that and show everybody else (even if it meant spilling the contents of the potty all over the house as she raced through the house showing everybody!)
3. Dress in easy to remove clothes.
As they develop their own independence, your toddler will want to pull down their own pants. So in order to avoid unwanted accidents, you’ll want to dress them in clothes they can easily remove themselves.
For me, I stopped putting tights on my daughter under her leggings or trousers and kept the layers to a minimum (even if it meant the central heating was on all day!!)
4. Don’t overuse ‘pull up’ pants.
Pull Up pants are fantastic to use during potty training if you’re out and about a lot and you want to avoid lots of little ‘accidents’, but as they are absorbent like nappies, it’s difficult for your toddler to feel that he/she is having a wee.
My daughter got to a point when she asked to wear the ‘big girl pants’ instead of the pull ups. For the first couple of days she did have the odd accident, but as she didn’t like to feeling of being wet she learned very quickly to tell me she needed a wee. I then only used pull ups when she was going down for a nap or if we were going on a long car journey.
5.Take the potty everywhere you go.
To some parents this may seem like an obvious thing to do, but for me it really wasn’t. For some reason I assumed my daughter would just use the normal toilet when we went out, and as I write this I can’t believe how naive I was!
It was when chatting to a more experienced parent about my daughter’s potty training progress that I jokingly said we might have to carry a potty with us everywhere we go as she’s too scared to go in the public toilets. To which my friend calmly replied that they carried a potty around with them for several months until their son was happy to go in the public toilets!
This has now made life much easier being able to just whip out the potty whenever my daughter needs to ‘go’!