When to start potty training is probably one of the most challenging questions facing parents of young children and there is so much conflicting advice and information on this that you can be forgiven if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. Every child is different, so it’s important not to compare your child with other children, either of the same age or younger or older. Each child is different when it comes to potty training – some just breeze through the whole process, some start late, some start early and some will have several accidents as they get the hang of what’s expected from them.
Potty training is easier if your child has a certain amount of bladder and bowel control – probably from the age of about two years onwards. Waiting until you child has a modicum of control will help make the whole thing a lot easier – avoiding upset and strain on both you and your little one as this important stage of development is reached and passed.
Some toddlers will develop an awareness of when they are doing a wee or a poo and let you know. A child may stop playing while he’s doing it and stand with a look of concentration on his face. He may ask you to change his nappy or he may see himself wee when he has no nappy on and express an interest. This means he is learning about cause and effect and is a sign that he is ready (or soon will be) to learn to use the potty.
Chances are that your little one has already accompanied you to the loo several times and knows what it’s all about. This will make toilet training a little easier as kids learn best by copying the adults around them.
If possible it’s best to start potty training during the summer months when it’s warm enough for your little one to play without a nappy on. He will then be able to see when he wees which will allow you to offer the potty quickly. Even if you use pull-up style nappies, a few mishaps are natural and it shouldn’t be too long before he gets the hang of it. During the warm weather it will be easier to dry the extra laundry that you might find yourself dealing with at this stage.
You may be wondering what type of potty to buy as there are so many on the market from the basic, old-fashioned potty to deluxe miniature toilets, some of which will knock you back over £100! A basic potty is good enough and it’s best to buy a few so that you have one upstairs, one downstairs and one for trips out in the car or the buggy.
Once your little one starts to use the potty, it’s important not to put nappies on him during the day. You may encounter several accidents during this stage so make sure you always have a change of clothes and some wet wipes with you when you’re out in case you can’t find a loo in time. When accidents do occur, don’t get annoyed or chide him – just let him know that it’s perfectly natural to have little accidents from time to time. Make sure there is no stress involved in the potty training process – this will just have a negative effect and result in him taking longer to learn.
As for dry during the night – that’s a different story altogether. Some children are ready to try sleeping without a nappy almost as soon as they are potty trained while others may take another year or so before they are ready.