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Oh, the dreaded potty training time! Teaching your little one how to start using the potty or toilet can be quite challenging, but letting them lead the way can help make it a little less stressful. Plus, being able to ditch those nappies is such a relief!
If you are wondering when is the right time for your child, this article will hopefully help to answer that question. Follow your child’s signs and signals and know that you’re on the path to successful toilet training!
We have 3 little ones, and the toilet training experience didn’t go exactly the same for each of them. One got it straight away with minimal accidents, one we started and found she wasn’t ready and had to try again when she was a bit older, the other started off great and had a bit of a regression a couple months later!
Kids are all different, but luckily, they mostly all get there in the end in their own time. Here are some simple signs that show your toddler may be ready.
Toilet training readiness
Potty training is a big but rewarding step for any family. It can be a bit messy, stressful and frustrating – but it’s also so great when your little one finally makes the transition from nappies to underwear. No more having to buy nappies!
Having a plan in place will help decrease the likelihood of messes, but unfortunately, doesn’t eliminate them completely, so you will need to be prepared for a few ‘accidents’ along the way!
Whether it’s your first rodeo or not, potty training is different for every single child. However, there are some common indicators that are similar across the board for most toddlers.
Set potty training expectations
Try not to expect the same results that other parents have had with their children. Comparing doesn’t help, as all children follow their own timeline and won’t all transition in the same way.
Some children start at age 2 or even earlier, while others are not ready until 3 or even 4 years of age. Here are some simple signs that your toddler may be ready to trade their nappies in for undies.
1) They notice when they are wet.
If you notice your toddler begin to pull at their nappy when they are wet, it might be time to buy a potty! Of course, you don’t have to use a potty at all, some parents choose to use a chair that fits over the toilet and a step to get up instead.
We used a potty for our eldest, but our youngest never used one at all, instead, we chose to buy special toilet seats like this with a built in mini seat for kids. It’s brilliant, and she still uses it now age four.
Note: some toddlers will never care if they are wet and/or dirty. This was the case with my second and it used to drive me mad how she was happy to sit there in a mess! Luckily, this isn’t the only sign of potty training readiness. There are plenty more!
2) They show interest.
One of the first things most parents notice on their child’s toilet training journey is that they become more interested in using the potty/toilet. Your toddler may follow you into the bathroom, or start asking questions about it. I mean, I say may, but if you’ve actually been getting to go to the toilet alone please tell me your secrets!
Some toddlers will even strip down and run into the bathroom before they even know how to use the toilet. This is a sure sign they’re ready to at least attempt to toilet train.
3) They are staying dry for longer.
When your toddler gets to the point where they’re able to stay dry for a few hours at a time, that is another sign they may be ready to potty train. If your child is able to sleep through the night and stay dry – even if it’s not every night – they are probably ready to start using the toilet.
4) They understand what “potty” means.
No matter which variation you use: potty, toilet, bathroom, or something else – when your child is able to understand what it means, this can be another sign they’re ready to transition away from nappies.
5) They can communicate when they need to go to the bathroom.
Not all children will verbally communicate that they need to use the bathroom, but there are other ways your child may indicate that they need to go.
A good idea is to teach your child a sign language sign for bathroom, so they if they can’t communicate they need to go verbally, they can still show you what they need.
6) They can undress themselves
Even if they can’t fully dress or undress themselves yet, if your toddler or child is able to pull down their nappy or underwear, they are showing signs of potty training readiness.
7) They can use a potty
If you buy a potty and teach your toddler how to use it, they should be able to get down to the potty (and up again) on their own. You’ll probably want to get them to practice even when they don’t necessarily need to go to the bathroom, so they’re prepared when it’s time to go.
8) They want to use the toilet
Every child will potty train at their own pace. Not all children will be eager to potty train, so it’s important to be persistent but not to push the issue if your child isn’t ready. Sometimes you might start potty training and realise your toddler just isn’t ready and that’s fine. Just leave it a few weeks or months, and give it another go.
If your child starts saying they want to use the toilet or potty, you’ll know they’re ready to start trying.
9) Your toddler can follow simple instructions
Being able to follow instructions is another toilet readiness skill. Your toddler might often accompany you to the toilet before they start potty training. This gives you the opportunity to talk to them about the whole process of using the toilet, and demonstrate using and flushing the toilet, washing and drying hands and so on.
If they are able to follow simple instructions like how to wash their hands, they may be prepared for potty training.
Make it fun!
Trying to make potty training fun as opposed to stressful can make it a lot easier for toddlers. Yo can try things like giving stickers, or reward charts as an incentive for your child.
Give lots of praise and encouragement, and try to stay patient and positive so your child doesn’t associate frustration and negativity with toileting. This will increase your chance of success.
If your child struggles with toilet training for a long period of time or seems to have a fear about it, it may be worth talking to your GP for some advice and help.
Remember: children are all different. The average age for toilet training is anywhere from 18 months to 3 years old, but if they aren’t ready, they aren’t ready and there’s no reason not to give it a little longer and let them take their time.
Also read: 5 Potty Training Tips