Learning to use the toilet or potty is a big step for a toddler, and it can be challenging to learn. Parents can become anxious about toilet training and often become concerned if it doesn’t go smoothly.
Some toddlers learn quickly, while others need lots of gentle support and encouragement from their parents.
Most toilet training problems can be avoided if parents start when their toddler is ready to learn.
When your toddler shows signs of being ready, set aside a few weeks and prepare yourself for the likelihood of some ‘accidents’!
Teach your toddler words needed for toilet training, such as wet, dry, wee and poo. Use words you are comfortable with.
Baby potty training (sometimes called elimination communication) is different from teaching a toddler to use the toilet.
For starters, a 2-month-old won’t have the same verbal skills as a 2-year-old and can never tell you it’s time to go to the bathroom.
Baby potty training requires patience and a certain level of vigilance to anticipate potty episodes all day long, at least at first. Online baby product directory at My Baby Nursery.
But all that effort isn’t necessarily going to free up a lot of time. For some parents, it’s a lot easier and more convenient to let babies stick to diapers until they learn to shuffle to the toilet.
How Young Can You Start Potty Training Your Baby?
How young you can start potty training depends a lot on how well you read your baby’s non-verbal communication signals and your commitment to following his natural schedule.
For example, suppose your baby usually pees first thing in the morning or after a feeding.
In that case, that’s the beginning of a pattern you can use to try elimination communication rather than a diaper.
Does he scrunch his face, turn red or make little grunting noises before number two?
He’s giving you clues you can use to introduce an alternate option (the toilet!).
On the other hand, if your baby was born with a poker face and keeps a topsy turvy schedule, potty training will be a considerable challenge.
Should You Potty Train Your Baby, or Is it Best to Wait Until He’s a Toddler?
Proponents of early potty training might claim that toilet training a baby is potentially less frustrating than potty training a toddler simply because the teaching is taking place before the “terrible twos” or the “tricky threes.”
However, early potty training success depends a lot on your commitment to keeping up the schedule and your baby’s innate temperament.
If a baby’s not interested in learning to potty train, there’s not much you can do except wait for the toddler years.
How to Try Elimination Communication With Your Baby
He can’t tell you when he needs to go, and you won’t be able to tell him what you want him to do.
Instead, you’ll have to pick up on his cues that he needs to pee or poop and act on them — which is why potty training a baby is often referred to as elimination communication.
And because a toddler has been peeing and pooping in a diaper for at least a year before he begins potty training, much of what he’s learning is how to ditch those diapers.
In contrast, a baby who rarely or never wears a diaper starts from a completely different point.
Follow these tips if you’re trying to potty train your baby:
- Watch and learn. Because of so much toilet training, your infant will rely on your ability to get him to the potty in time to use it; you’ll have to figure out what his particular non-verbal cues are when he needs to empty his bladder or his bowels. Start paying meticulous attention to how he behaves when he wets or soils his diaper. Does he wriggle or squirm? Screw up his little mouth and grimace or pout? Does he grunt or make other sounds? Does his face turn red? Also, notice when he pees and poops (after a feeding? after a nap?) and write it down so that you can start to pick up on his pattern.
- Could you take it to the toilet? After you’ve figured out his pattern and behaviours, you can start by taking him to a bathroom or potty seat (or even a small bucket) whenever you see signs that he needs to go. Hold him securely on the rear (bare-bottomed, of course).
- Give a signal. While he pees or poops, he begins to make a noise that he can learn to associate with potty breaks, such as “sss sss sss.” Sound off whenever he’s in the act of peeing or pooping, or as soon as you anticipate he’s about to. That way, he’ll begin to associate the sensation of needing to relieve himself with both the potty and your verbal signal. You can also teach your baby the sign language signal for the bathroom — close your hand (with your palm facing away from you), put your thumb between your pointer and middle finger, and then shake your hand from side to side.
- Repeat! Now the trick is being consistent. If it helps, establish a schedule for potty breaks (based on the records you kept during the observation period), as well as watching for your baby’s signals. Building in as much predictability as possible will make it easier for you, and it will help your child fall into a daily rhythm as well.
While consistency is indeed essential here, there’s room for flexibility, too. If watching for your baby’s signs is too stressful when you’re out and about, put your little one in diapers before you leave the house.
When Are Kids Ready to Toilet Train?
Many parents are unsure about when to start toilet training or “potty training.” Not all kids are ready at the same age, so it’s essential to watch your child for signs of readiness, such as stopping an activity for a few seconds or clutching his or her diaper.
Instead of using age, look for signs that your child may be ready to start heading for the potty, such as being able to:
- follow simple instructions
- understand and use words about using the potty
- make the connection between the urge to pee or poop and using the potty
- keep a diaper dry for 2 hours or more
- please get to the potty, sit on it for enough time, and then get off the potty
- pull down diapers, disposable training pants, or underpants
- show an interest in using the potty or wearing underpants
Most children begin to show these signs when they’re between 18 and 24 months old, though some may not be ready until later than that. And boys often start later and take longer to learn to use the potty than girls.
There are some times when you may want to put off starting toilet training, such as:
- when travelling
- around the birth of a sibling
- changing from the crib to the bed
- moving to a new house
- when your child is sick (especially if diarrhea is a factor)
How Long Does Toilet Training Take?
Teaching a toddler to use the potty isn’t an overnight task. It often takes between 3 and 6 months but can take more or less time for some children.
If you start too soon, the process tends to take longer. And it can take months to even years to master staying dry at night.
The two basic potty options are:
- a standalone, toddler-size potty chair with a bowl that can be emptied into the toilet
- A toddler-size seat that can be placed on top of a toilet seat will let your child feel more secure and not fear falling in. If you choose this, get a stepping stool so your child can reach the heart comfortably and feel supported while having a bowel movement.
It’s usually best for boys to first learn to use the toilet sitting down before learning to pee standing up.
For boys who feel awkward — or scared — about standing on a stool to pee in the bathroom, a potty chair may be a better option.
You may want to get a training potty or seat for every bathroom in your house.
You may even want to keep a potty in the trunk of your car for emergencies.
When travelling long distances, be sure to take a potty seat with you and stop every 1 to 2 hours. Otherwise, it can take too long to find a restroom.
About Training Pants
Disposable training pants are a helpful step between diapers and underwear. Online baby product directory at My Baby Nursery.
Because kids’ nighttime bladder and bowel control often lag behind their daytime control, some parents like using training pants at night.
Others prefer that their child use training pants when they’re out and about. Once the training pants remain dry for a few days, kids can switch to wearing underwear.
But some people think that disposable training pants might make kids think it’s OK to use them like diapers, thus slowing the toilet-teaching process.
Ask your doctor if your child would benefit from using disposable training pants as a transitional step.
Toilet Training Process
- Choose either a potty or a special toilet seat attachment.
- Make sure your toddler is wearing clothing that is easy to get off and on and easy to wash, such as training pants.
- Watch for signs that your toddler is about to do a wee or a poo (facial expression, stopping still for a moment) and guide him/her to the potty or toilet.
- Praise the times he /she makes it on time and praise the attempts that don’t make it, e.g. “well done for trying; it was great how you got your pants down on your own, I am so proud of you for sitting on the toilet.”
- Expect accidents; remember to tell them it’s OK, and even if you feel disappointed or frustrated, do not show it. Change and clean your Child and let them know they can try again.
- If you find you are getting annoyed or even feeling like your toddler isn’t trying, leave it for a while and try starting again in a few days or a week. Punishment does not help with toilet training.
Tips for Toilet Training
Even before your child is ready to try the potty, you can prepare your little one by teaching about the process:
- Use words to express the act of using the toilet (“pee,” “poop,” and “potty”).
- Ask your child to let you know when a diaper is wet or soiled.
- Identify behaviours (“Are you going poop?”) so that your child can learn to recognize the urge to pee and poop.
- Get a potty chair your child can practise sitting on. At first, your child can sit on it wearing clothes or a diaper. When ready, your child can go bare-bottomed.
If you’ve decided that your child is ready to start learning how to use the potty, these tips may help:
- Set aside some time to devote to the potty-training process.
- Please don’t make your child sit on the toilet against his or her will.
- Show your child how you sit on the toilet and explain what you’re doing (because your child learns by watching you). You also can have your child sit on the potty seat and watch while you (or a sibling) use the toilet.
- Establish a routine. For example, you may want to begin by having your child sit on the potty after waking with a dry diaper or 45 minutes to an hour after drinking lots of liquids. Only put your child on the potty for a few minutes a couple of times a day, and let your child get up if he or she wants to.
- Have your child sit on the potty within 15 to 30 minutes after meals to take advantage of the body’s natural tendency to have a bowel movement after eating (this is called the gastro-colic reflex). Also, many kids have a time of day they tend to have a bowel movement.
- Ask your child to sit on the potty if you see clear clues of needing to go to the bathroom, such as crossing legs, grunting, or squatting.
- Empty a bowel movement (poop) from your Child’s diaper into the toilet, and tell your child that poop goes in the potty.
- Avoid clothes that are hard to take off, such as overalls and shirts that snap in the crotch. Kids who are potty training need to be able to undress themselves.
- Offer your child small rewards, such as stickers or time reading, every time your child goes in the potty. Keep a chart to track successes. Once your little one appears to be mastering the use of the toilet, let him or her pick out a few new pairs of big-kid underwear to wear.
- Ensure all caregivers — including babysitters, grandparents, and childcare workers — follow the same routine and use the same names for body parts and bathroom acts. Let them know how you’re handling toilet training, and ask that they use the same approaches so your child won’t be confused.
- Praise all attempts to use the toilet, even if nothing happens. And remember that accidents will happen. It’s important not to punish potty-training children or show disappointment when they wet or soil themselves or the bed. Instead, tell your child that it was an accident and offer your support. Reassure your child that he or she is well on the way to using the potty like a big kid.
My Child Won’t Toilet Train.
Do not start toilet training at a time when your toddler is adjusting to change, e.g. the arrival of a new brother or sister, moving house or starting childcare.
Explain it is OK if they do not want to use the toilet, but they will need to wear a nappy, and if they change their mind, they can use the bathroom. Most times, children will decide to start using the toilet again after a short period.
Start only when your toddler shows signs of being ready and not because others are pressuring you as the parent to start toddler toilet training too early.
Common Toilet Training Problems
Many kids who’ve been using the potty have some trouble during times of stress.
For example, a 2- or 3-year-old dealing with a new sibling may start having accidents. But if your child was potty-trained and is regularly having problems, talk with your doctor.
Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about toilet training or your child is four years or older and is not yet potty trained.
Some parents choose to begin toilet training by starting their child on a potty.
However, keep in mind that it gives the child one more step to master before getting used to the toilet. It also means you will need to take your ‘potty with you everywhere while your Child is toilet training.
Toilet training is often more accessible in warm weather because there is less clothing to remove. You may even let your toddler go without pants or a nappy some of the time.