Updated: Feb 22
As we continue lockdown, and as the weather continues to be sunny, this might provide the perfect time for some of you to consider potty training your child, if you are going to be at home with your little one.
Is my child ready to start potty training?
There are some signs to look out for which might indicate that your toddler is ready:
· When your child is having a poo only in the daytime
· When they ask you to have their nappy changed
· When they tell you they need the toilet
· When they ask to wear pants/knickers instead of a nappy
· When they ask you to use the potty or toilet
· When they take an interest in you or other family members using the toilet
· When they are fidgeting, walking strangely or go somewhere quiet out of the way could all be signs that your child knows they are need the toilet
· Recognise signs when your children are pooing or weeing, then talk to them about what is happening to help develop their understanding of what is happening to them
How do I start potty training?
One way to make potty training as most successful as possible is to give your child control over the situation.
You can do this in different ways:
-Firstly let your child choose their own potty, this gives them ownership over it or if you are using a child’s toilet seat let them choose this
-Secondly let them choose their new knickers/pants to let them know that they will wear these instead of nappies in future
-Thirdly let them choose their own storybooks on the topic of potty training e.g. I Want My Potty by Tony Ross
-Forthly get a foot stool, as this is good to promote independent hand washing and will also be needed to help them get up to sit on the toilet.
Prior to starting potty training, talk to your child about the potty as this will help them to feel reassured and get have more understanding of the situation that they will be in.
Swap nappies for pull ups, which will be easier for your child to remove and pull back up. It is also an easier transition than going straight to knickers or pants.
When you bring in the potty, tell them what its for and encourage your child to look and play with it first and encourage them to get used to sitting on it, before you start the actual potty training. You might want more than one potty initially, so you can keep one in the bathroom and have one in the area you spend most time with your child.
Help your child to recognise that bathroom is the place for having a wee or poo. Prior to starting potty training, make sure to always change your child’s nappy in the bathroom to help them start to make the connection and also say when they have had a wee and poo.
Also incorporate sitting on the potty as part of the nappy change routine, as again this will help them to make more connections with going for a wee or poo.
Time to Try the Potty
· Praise and encouragement is key throughout the day. Use it for each stage in the process like sitting on the potty, hand washing, pulling up pants/pull ups. You can also use stickers as a rewards and then add them to a sticker chart to give your child a visual prompt of their achievements.
· Encourage your child to sit on the potty after every meal & snack, as this is a good way to encourage their bowel movements. You could give them a book to look at or a toy to hold to encourage the to sit on their for longer. Only sit them on their for a max of 2-3 minutes. To have a visual prompt for your child you could use a sand timer, which might help them to encourage them to sit down longer.
· Make sure you dress your child in easy to remove clothing. They need to be easy to pull up and down; avoid zips and buttons. Do not dress them in their best clothes, also make sure the clothes are easy to wash and dry
· Get a routine going in terms of giving regular reminders during the day to get your little one to sit on the potty, try them on there every couple of hours. Also rather than asking if they need a wee or poo, to start with just call it ‘potty time’ as it might take then time to learn the words wee/poo if you have not used them with your child before.
· If you have a little boy encourage them to sit down initially when they wee, as they need to master this skill first, and if they are sitting down it will help them to poo as well. Once they have mastered to stand to wee, you will need to encourage them to sit down as it will be easy for them to forget that they need to sit down to poo.
· Don’t attempt night time potty training until you have fully mastered it in the daytime. Night time bladder control, takes longer to achieve.
· Be consistent, so anyone who is having contact with your child adopts the same approach you are using e.g. other family members/childcare providers.
When things don't go to plan…
Remember stay patient, as potty training is a skill which will take time for your child to learn. There will be accidents and things will not always go to plan, remember that’s how we all learn. Your child is learning all the time and they are still really young. When your toddler does have an accident, offer lots of reassurance and do not make an issue out of cleaning up, if not your child could feel pressure about the situation and develop anxiety. It is best not to put your child back in nappies if they have an accident because this will be confusing and will give unclear messages.
After trying it for a few days or even a week, you may decide your child is not ready and that is completely fine, remember each child is different and will develop at their own pace.
Remember you are not alone in this, there are lots of sources of support online, including lots of Facebook pages groups for parents where advice and guidance is offered on a range of topics including potty training.
Further sources of information on Potty Training
PACEY-Toilet Training Tips
NHS-How to Potty Train
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Written by G.Hampton 23.04.2020