Now is a good time to think about toilet training, if you haven’t started already. The typical time to start training is when your child is around 20-24 months old, give or take a couple of months on either side – but do not start earlier than that.
Potty training is a major step in your child’s life. It signals a new stage of independence. Look for signs of readiness when he is at a suitable stage of development.
Bear in mind that a toddler usually does not have sufficiently mature muscle and neurological systems to control his bowel and bladder until he is at least aged 15 months, so training before then is pointless.
If you start before he is ready for potty training, you’ll only end up in battles with him – and that’s not a good approach.
Potty training should involve positive cooperation between you and your child. Don’t make fights and arguments part of it.
Typical signs of readiness include:
Indication Once your toddler is able to indicate to you that his diaper is wet or dirty – either by telling you or by pointing – then he is probably ready to start potty training. This sense of needing a nappy change is a good sign.
Awareness He may reach the stage when he is aware that he is emptying his bowel and bladder into the diaper. For instance, he might look at you with an earnest expression, or move to the side.
Dryness He may be ready for potty training when you discover that his diaper is dry even though he has been wearing it for hours. If he can last for three or four hours without wetting or soiling his nappy, that’s also a sign of readiness.
Remember that toilet training doesn’t always go accordingly to plan – it can try the patience of a saint! Stay calm, no matter how uncooperative he may be at times. He needs you to be patient with him.
Perhaps your child fails to learn control even though others his age have long since acquired that skill. Or maybe you find that toilet training becomes a source of tension between you and your child.
Toilet training works best when you have a well-planned strategy – and plenty of patience! Here’s what you can do:
Familiarise him with the potty Explain to him that he is going to use the potty from now on. Let him play with the potty and make sure that he has easy access to it – he won’t find training easy if the potty is hard to reach.
Encourage him to sit on the potty Do this with his nappy off at least three times every day, especially after meals. Although he’ll probably feel uncomfortable at first, you will find that he steadily gets used to it.
Give him time on the potty Potty training should be fun, so if he wants to read a book while sitting on the potty or to sing a song or to listen to music, let him. If he stands up too soon, encourage him to sit down for longer.
Use lots of praise Your two-year-old loves being made a fuss of when he uses the potty properly, and he begins to experience success within a week or so of starting training. Give him a big cuddle when that happens.
Consider letting him roam diaper-free A child who doesn’t wear a diaper often finds it easier and quicker to access the potty when required, and may be more aware of the wetting sensations.