Learning bladder and bowel control will be one of your toddler’s major achievements on the road to independence, but it’s not something you can hurry.
There’s very little point in trying to potty train your child before she is physically and emotionally ready, which is usually at around two years of age – although for some children it may take longer.
Look out for signs that your child is becoming aware of doing a ‘wee’ or ‘poo’. She may tell you that she is wet or dirty, or that she is wetting her nappy or is about to do so.
Another sign that’s she’s learning control is if her nappy is still dry after she’s worn it for a number of hours.
Once you have decided to start you need to be prepared to persevere, so choose a period when you know you will have time to give your child the extra attention that she will need.
Take your child with you when you go to buy her potty so that she feels involved right from the beginning – perhaps she can choose the colour she likes?
Buy a potty with a wide base so that it won’t tip over when she sits on it, or when she stands up after she’s used it.
It’s a good idea to have more than one potty so that she doesn’t become so attached to a particular potty that she refuses to use anything else.
Let your toddler become familiar with the potty before you start training and keep it in the bathroom and encourage her to sit on it with her nappy on or off when you and other members of the family are using the toilet.
You could also encourage her to sit her dolls or teddies on the potty while you explain what it is for.
Your toddler needs to be able to negotiate pulling her underwear down and up again herself so dress her in loose clothing, such as tracksuit bottoms or a dress and leave her bottom bare.
Training pants with just a tee-shirt will make life simple for her at home and will help to prevent accidents.
Explain in simple words what you want her to do. Tell her that it’s what you and ‘big’ children do and that she’ll be able to wear ‘big girl’s pants’ once she’s out of nappies. M
Select certain times of day to sit her on her potty – perhaps after meals – but if you can, try to choose times when she usually wets or dirties herself.
Your child may get the hang of potty training very quickly, or she may think the whole thing is a joke, or even treat it with complete disinterest.
If she refuses to sit on her potty for more than a few minutes, don’t force her to stay there. You don’t want to turn this into a battle of wills.
Try sitting with her and reading her a story or just talking to her. When she achieves something, praise her and perhaps reward her a small treat.
Never show your displeasure or punish her for not performing when you want her to – this will only reduce her self-confidence and cause tension between you both.
Equally, it’s important not to overdo the praise when she does something in her potty because she may think she’s been naughty in some way when she doesn’t perform. Potty training is all about negotiation and persuasion, not anger and blame.
While your child is learning to become clean and dry, putting her in training pants rather than nappies will make life easier for you both.
Once she has achieved a certain amount of control you can introduce the idea of wearing ordinary pants. There will probably be some accidents at first, but suggesting that the next time she could use the potty like a big girl should encourage her.
It’s unlikely that your toddler will become dry at night at the same time as she’s dry during the day. Few children achieve this and many are well into their third year before they are completely dry during the night.
If you encourage her to use the potty before going to bed and don’t offer drinks at night or during the hour before bedtime you’ll find that she eventually has a series of dry nappies during the night and your nappy days will be over!