Potty training… the best and worst part of toddlerhood!
But don’t worry, we’ve got all the information you’ll need right here to get you through it!
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What age should I start potty training?
There is no “right” age to begin potty training. Most parents begin around age two. But, beginning potty training should be based on signs of readiness, rather than age.
Signs your child is ready to potty train:
- Can pull their pants up and down
- Is interested in the potty
- Pulling on or taking off their diaper
- Beginning to have a dry diaper for longer periods of time
- Telling you that they’ve gone potty in their diaper, or that they’re about to
- Doesn’t like the feeling of a dirty diaper\
- Able to communicate that they need to go, through words or even sign language
- Is starting to gain some independence
Signs your child is not ready for potty training:
- They’re still urinating frequently (more than once or twice in an hour)
- They have no desire to try using the potty
- They’re unable to understand how to tell you they need to go
- They aren’t coordinated enough to pull their pants up and down, or get onto the potty by themselves
The key to successful potty training, is waiting until your child is actually ready. Just because they may show certain signs that they are ready, they may not be ready physically because they may not actually have the capability of controlling their bladder or bowels.
Pushing your child to potty train before they are ready is just going to make them hate it, and make you frustrated. If you begin potty training and decide that they are not ready, just stop and try again in a month or so.
Tools you’ll need for potty training:
- little potty
- over the toilet seat
- rewards charts/prizes (see below for an awesome rewards chart hack!)
- potty training underwear
- stool for getting on to the toilet
- stool for washing hands
- potty training books or movies
- patience, a lot of patience
Why do you need two kinds of potty seats?
Good question! By having a seat that goes on the toilet, it helps them to be less scared of using big toilets in public! And by having the small potty seat, you can use it throughout the house while just beginning potty training, AND we take ours in the car when we’re going to be out for long periods of time, or on road trips so that they always have a place to go!
Potty Training Tips:
Use the 3-day potty training method
The three-day potty training method is great! But it’s slightly misleading. It’s not meant to have your toddler fully potty trained in three days. It’s meant to develop a pattern for your child, so that they know what it feels like to need to go potty, and they are able to go. It also helps them to learn control of their bladder and bowels.
Steps for doing the 3-day potty training method:
Try to find a time you can plan to stay at home for 3 days straight.
1. During the first day, you’re going to take your child straight to the potty when they wake up and encourage them to try. If not, that’s fine. After that, leave them naked all day (or at least pants-less), and stay inside the house.
They will likely pee on the floor, and everywhere else. That’s fine! Just always direct them to the potty. Pick them up and run them to the toilet if you can catch them mid-pee.
(Hint: If you have carpet, invest into some puppy training pads and lay them down!)
2. On the second day let them wear underwear, and possibly take short trips outside, to let them practice telling you that they need to go in and go potty. If you notice they are going potty more because they’re wearing underwear, try being naked a little longer.
3. On the third day let them wear underwear, and go outside for longer periods of time. See if they start to tell you that they need to go, rather than you asking them all the time. Remind them that they need to tell you if they need to go and that they can go potty and then come back and play.
Once you decide to start potty training, you have to stay committed! (Unless of course, you feel they are not ready). If you stop simply because it’s not convenient timing, you’re going to confuse them.
Another part of being committed is to ditch the diapers and pull-ups. Kids are smart. If they have a diaper on they’ll use it. So once they truly have the hang of it, enough that you know that they know when they need to go, ditch the diapers. Only do pull-ups for bedtime.
*Potty training hack: Because kids are smart, and will use a diaper if they have one on, you need them to feel like they’re wearing underwear. But sometimes, it’s the absolute worst to clean up a huge mess that leaked all the way through their pants, down their legs, and into their shoes. Purchase one or two cloth diapers. Easier clean up for you, no leaking, and they still think it’s underwear!
Get them excited
You’ve got to make them think that potty training is the coolest thing since playing with mom’s phone and pulling all the tupperware out of the drawer. You’ve got to get them over the top excited about going potty.
Read some super cool potty training books! Find some fun videos or movies, Daniel Tiger’s potty training song is awesome.
Don’t ask them if they have to go potty
Never say “Do you have to go potty?” because they will most likely say no. They will scream and fight, and then you’ll put them on the toilet and they’ll go. You can either tell them that it’s time to go potty, or you can still give them options by asking your questions differently. Try “do you want to use the big potty or the little potty?” Or “after you go potty, do you want to read a book or play with toys?”
Distraction is key
There will be times that they will fight you to the death about getting on the toilet, because whatever else they could be doing is way more fun. While you’re putting them on the potty, start asking them questions. Try “what’s your favorite color” or “what should we do after this?” Or you can have them start singing their ABC’s, or counting to ten. If you can get them talking for a few seconds, they will probably end up going.
Some people say you shouldn’t reward your children while potty training them, because they’ll start expecting it. Those same people also probably don’t have a super strong willed child.
There’s a ton of different ways to reward your toddler for going potty. Here are a few different options:
- Candy: Every time they go potty, give them a piece of candy. I suggest a small candy, like mini eminems, tic tacs, or fruit snacks. You can tell them they get one for going pee, and two for going poop.
- Toys: Get a big jar or something clear, fill it with dollar store toys and sit it in plain sight, somewhere where they can’t quite get to it. Every time they go potty they get to pick a toy. They’ll be begging to go potty.
- Reward charts: Charts are the way to go! You can have a chart that every time they go potty, they get to add a sticker or stamp. When they’ve filled up all of the spots, they can get a candy or a toy.
Potty training reward chart hack:
Along with a chart, you can add in some fun learning as well! The chart I printed for my daughter had ten spots, and each one had a number, one through ten. Every time she went potty we would run to the chart and count from one to ten, and then she got to add a stamp to the next available spot.
You can do this with numbers, ABC’s, shapes, colors, etc. Turn your potty training into a learning experience as well.
Check out this website for some super creative and fun potty training incentives!
Is my child ready for potty training?
Potty training is hard! It will take some time. The best thing you can do is to be patient with your child because this is something that is totally new to them. And quite frankly is inconvenient for them! No one wants to stop playing with toys to go potty when they’ve spent their entire life just going in their pants with no repercussions.
They’ll eventually get the hang of it, as long as you’re supporting and loving them all the way through it. If you feel that there could be something medically affecting your child not being able to potty train, reach out to your doctor and express your concerns!
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