Crawling ✔. Walking ✔. Weaned ✔. Talking ✔. Now for potty training… As well as it being an
achievement for our children, it is a huge milestone for parents and it can be the most daunting
one at that. It is one that can’t be escaped from, but it shouldn’t be one of concern and stress.
Every child will sooner or later successfully be potty trained. We are here to get you on your
way, give you some advice as well as include a reward chart for your children to help the
Though there isn’t a specific age that a child should be potty trained for, you will find from about
18 months to 3 years old your child will start to show signs of being ready to start this process.
There is no right or wrong age to start, every child is unique in their development and
physiology. Where one child may be completely potty trained by two years old, others may not
be ready until they are three.
Generally speaking, it is better not to start too early as you run the risk of prolonging the process
with the potential of having to stop and try again in a few months. Everyone will have an opinion
about timing, often those from an older generation who may have done things differently. We
advise that you begin this process making sure it is centred around your own child and not
based on anything else.
When is a good time to start?
As we mentioned above, there is no specific age to begin potty training.
Steps To Success:
1. Readiness Signs
Before you even begin to consider potty training you need to be watching for signs they are
ready. If you start too soon it could be detrimental to their success.
Do some reading (this article is a good place to start!) and see what products are out there to
help the process. Items like portable potties, children’s books about potties etc. Discuss with
whoever helps raise your children as to whether to use a potty or the adults loo with a seat on it.
You may find that they are more likely to sit on a potty on the floor to begin with as the big loo is
a bit daunting. Make sure you understand that routine is important in the potty training process.
3. Begin Potty Training
Routine is key.
Make sure your expectations are not too high on how long the process will take. They need your
love and encouragement through it, every child can have set backs.
This is the last step to full potty training success. For some this can take longer. Paediatrician’s
say that though a child can be fully potty trained during the day they may not be
developmentally ready to be dry at night.
Things to Consider Before Beginning
- If you are in a state of transition in your home; such as moving house, moving child from
cot to bed, new sibling arriving, visiting family etc then it is not a good idea to start the
potty training process until things have settled down. These things will unsettle them and
if you start you may see setbacks in their behaviour. You need to set your child up for
success before you start.
- Make sure not to start too early as this could prolong the potty training process or even
have to stop and try again in a few months.
- Has your child started to recognise when they are about to wee or poo? Do they have
the words to verbalise them? This means they are showing signs of starting to become
ready to potty train. Their sensory fibres that are by their bladder are now formed and
are sending messages to the brain via their spine, that their bladder is full. This signal
generally is not fully functional until they hit 2 years of age which is why for many
children starting before this can be unsuccessful.
- Do they stop what they are doing and disappear when they are about to poo? Some
children may even have a specific place out of sight that they go to when they are doing
their business. This is another sign they are starting to become ready.
- Listen to other people’s advice but stick to your own plan that is right for your child. If
your child spends time in childcare, make sure they understand what their potty training
routine is so that there is no confusion for your child.
- If your child is showing all of the above signs but is still not interested in potty training,
don’t force it. Leave it a couple of months and revisit the idea of potty training.
When They Have Accidents
- It is really important not to get angry. Instead try and react calmly with no fussing and
telling off. If we get cross every time they have an accident some children may run the
risk of starting to hold their bowel movements too long and this can lead to urinary
infections and a bad association with going to the bathroom.
- When they mess themselves, talk to them. Take them to the potty and sit them on it.
They may not do anything but you are reinforcing that that is the place they need to go
when they need to go potty.
- Accidents are all part of the process and they will lessen with time. Don’t despair, it will
get better, just make sure to take spare clothes with you wherever you go.
Potty Training During the Night
- You will need items such as pull up pants, waterproof mattress covers and, or training
- Some parents start to limit the liquids their children have after their evening meal so that
the need to go to the loo is limited.
- Other parents will wake their children up in the night and make them go to sleep. This
very much depends on your child. For many families if you have children that can fuss at
night this is not an option as going back to sleep may be difficult.
- As soon as they wake up in the morning take them straight to the potty.
- Generally one should wait until their child has dry pull up nappies first thing when they
wake up in the morning before moving them into proper pants. If they have had a week
of dry pull ups then you can consider ditching the nappies.
- Dry night times are really the last step to potty training and for many children this part will
take the longest. Most health professionals say that it is normal for children to
occasionally wet the bed up until the age of 5. Only after that age would they consider it
something that needs to be looked at further.
Grace Selous Bull is an arts education author and freelance blogger. Her book, ‘Potty About Pots: arts and crafts for home and school’ is aimed at children from 5-12 years old and takes them through a journey of ceramics through time. Her blog, The Rainbow Tree, explores all aspects of arts and crafts, and is aimed at children of all ages. She is a full time Mummy of two girls, both of whom love being creative, and is married to her husband, Andrew, who does not. Follow her on twitter.
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