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Potty Time

by Dr. Susan Canizares | October 6, 2017 | Child Development

shutterstock_244835146One of the biggest questions parents ask while raising children is when to start toilet training. While there is no specific correct answer, most children are ready to start toilet training somewhere between the ages of 22 and 30 months. Some children can be ready earlier; other children may take longer to become interested. There are signs to watch for that will help you know if your little one is ready or needs a little more time.

Is your child ready?

Your child may be ready to begin the process of toilet training if they consistently have a dry diaper after waking up from nap. They should also be able to go longer periods of time (2 or more hours) with a dry diaper.

These signs are important since a child must be able to control their bladder muscles in order to be fully toilet trained. When your child starts to show these basic signs, you can start asking yourself if you see any other signs of toilet readiness.

  • Does your child get upset when their diaper is soiled?
  • Are there obvious signs when your child needs to use the restroom, such as bouncing up and down, crossing their legs, or hiding in a corner?
  • Does your child seem interested in the toilet? Do they follow you into the restroom trying to watch what happens?
  • Is your child able to pull his or her pants down and up again?

What should you do once your child is ready?

Once you feel like your child is ready, you want to be sure that you are setting them up for success. Provide a small potty, potty seat, or stool for your child. There are many different toilet training methods. Find one that works for you, but always remember that this is a learning process that takes time. Being patient and allowing your child the time she needs to learn this new skill is the best way to be supportive during this process.

One method you could try is to set a timer to go off every 30 minutes or so to let you and your child know when it’s time to try the toilet. After about a minute of sitting on the toilet, offer praise for trying. If they were unable to urinate, assure them they can try again the next time the timer goes off. If they are able to urinate, even a little bit, make sure to celebrate. Make up a potty dance, put stickers on a chart, offer an extra trip to the park—whatever you think will have the most positive impact.

Some parents will get rid of the diapers and start using pull-ups so that the child gets used to the action of pulling them up and down. Others will skip the pull-ups and go straight to underwear. If you decide to put your child in underwear, be prepared to clean up some accidents. You may also want to use pull-ups during naps and at bedtime.

In order to make success more likely, you should dress your child in loose clothing that is easy to remove. Avoid belts and overalls, as these could be a hindrance. Consider taking your child to the store to choose underwear. Allowing them to pick out their favorite colors or cartoon characters may get them excited about keeping the underwear dry.

Keep in mind, it’s okay to stop trying if your child seems to be stressed out, or has continued disappointments. If your child battles you at every turn to sit on the toilet, they may not be ready. While toilet training is not always a perfect process, it should be a positive experience. If your child struggles, the best thing to do is slow the process down, or stop altogether.

You can always try again in a few weeks!