Toilet Training Made Easy
Toilet training. Or shall we say freedom from diapers! The time when parents can officially say good bye to countless shopping trips to the store and tons of garbage and embrace the effortless transition of using the toilet!
Sounds easy doesn’t it?
If you currently in the midst of this you are well aware this is far from true. The book told you it can be done in a day and its been 4 months and it just seems to be getting worse! Your frustration is increasing and your patience is at its capacity. You don’t understand how your toddler can be so talkative and “smart”, yet choose to go to the bathroom in his diaper.
Sounds like your toddler?
If toilet training is taking a long time with your toddler, it is completely normal! The truth of the matter is that few moms and dads are well prepared for how long toilet training actually takes. Sure, some children master it within a few days, but others can take several months. In fact, it’s generally true that the earlier you start, the longer it takes.
No matter how old your little one is there are some basic strategies to make this transition easier. If you are having difficulty with toilet training stop immediately and take some time to read the following suggestions to determine if your toddler is in fact ready for this next stage.
Is My Child Ready to be Toilet Trained?
Some children are ready to start toilet training by 18 months or so, but others aren’t interested in the process until they’re closer to 3 years old. Many parents begin toilet training when their children are around 2 and a half however only around 22 percent are out of diapers at this age. Typically 60% of 3 year olds are completely potty trained.
Before you begin watch for signals that your little one is ready to start, but try not to put on the pressure. Rushing her when she’s not ready will only delay the process. Look into any environmental influences that may disrupt her schedule. If she’s experiencing any turmoil or major change in her life, like a new caregiver or sibling hold off until this settles down.
There’s also no sense in starting toilet training when you— or your child’s primary caregivers — won’t be able to devote time, patience, and a bit of humour to the process. If you’re in the middle of renovating your home, or just had another baby, it is probably best to wait until you have the time to dedicate your energy into this process.
Buy the right equipment
Before you start toilet training invest in a child-sized potty chair or a special adapter seat for your regular toilet. Figure out what equipment is best for your toddler and plan a special trip to purchase it with them. You can explain that it is for them to go to the bathroom like big boys or girls. The most important feature of the equipment is that they have a relaxing sitting position. If you choose an adapter for an adult toilet ensure they have good foot supports and they don’t have to hold themselves up on the toilet seat.
Start a Basic Routine
Set your toddler on the potty seat, fully clothed, once a day — after breakfast, before her bath, or whenever else she’s likely to have a bowel movement. This will help her get used to the potty and accept it as part of her daily routine.
Once she’s fine with this routine, have her sit on the potty without a diaper. Again, let her get used to how this feels. At this point, let her know that this is what Mommy and Daddy (and any older siblings) do every day.
If sitting on the potty with or without clothes is upsetting to your toddler, don’t push it. Never restrain her or physically force her to sit there, especially if she seems scared. This will only delay the process and create a negative association with using the toilet. It’s better to put the potty aside for a few weeks before trying again.
Children learn best by imitation, and watching you use the bathroom is a natural way to understand what using the toilet is all about. When you demonstrate for your toddler, it’s helpful to explain what’s going on as you’re using the bathroom and let her see afterward what you “made.” If your comfortable show her how you wipe with toilet paper, pull up your underwear, flush the toilet, and wash your hands. If they have an older sibling this can also be demonstrated on what their big sister/brother does on the toilet too.
Explain the process
Show your toddler the connection between pooping and the toilet. The next time she poops in her diaper, sit her down on her potty and empty the diaper into the bowl. Afterward, explain to her that the poop goes in the potty and let her flush it down if she wants to.
There are also a variety of great books and videos that can talk about toilet training in a fun and non-stressful format. Everyone Poops, by Taro Gomi and Once Upon a Potty are two classic books that explain the process in a fun and kid friendly manner. Keeping a book like this in the bathroom, or a poster or flipbook that illustrates the steps in using the potty, can help your toddler become familiar with the process. You can also use pretend play to illustrate toilet training with a doll. Simply purchase a doll that pees and a small pretend potty. Show them what happens when the doll drinks and how and where the pee comes from. This can be a great incentive as they are getting a chance to pretend and show the “baby” how to do it!
Encourage your toddler to sit on the potty whenever she feels the urge to go. This may mean taking her to the bathroom during specific times of the day she is more likely to be successful. If she needs help getting there and taking off her diaper, make sure she knows it’s okay to ask you for help any time. If you can, let her run around bare-bottomed sometimes with the potty nearby. The more time she spends out of diapers, the faster she’s likely to learn, although you’ll have to clean up a few more accidents. Wearing underwear versus diapers also helps speed up the process because they can feelthe results! Pull-ups and diapers mask the feeling of a dirty diaper and can take away the incentive to go in the toilet.
Sometimes toddlers won’t sit on the potty long enough to relax for the urine or feces to come out. Calmly encourage your toddler to sit there for at least a minute or so. You’ll have the best luck getting her to stay put if you keep her company and talk to her or read her a book.
When your toddler uses the potty successfully, praise her but don’t get into complicated systems with charts and delayed reinforcement. Chances are that she’ll continue to have accidents, but she’ll start to grasp that getting something in the potty isan accomplishment. Still, try not to make a big deal out of everytrip to the potty, or your toddler may start to feel nervous and self-conscious under to much attention. Don’t ever punish your child for having an accident. This can damage their self-esteem and also create tension around the process.
Introduce Night Training
When you’re ready start night training, your toddler should continue to wear a diaperor pull-up to bed, but encourage her to use the potty if she has to pee or poop during the night. Tell her that if she wakes up in the middle of the night, she can call you for help. You can also try putting her potty near her bed so she can use it right there.
If she manages to stay dry for five nights in a row, it’s a good time to start night time training. Put a plastic sheet under the cloth one to protect the mattress, and put your toddler to bed in underwear and see if she remains dry. Over time this will get better however there is not much you can do to push it along besides limiting liquids before bedtime. If your toddler doesn’t seem to get the hang of it, put her back in night-time diapers and try again in a few months as she gets better bladder control.
Overall, toilet training should not be an overwhelming experience if you follow these simple guidelines. Ensure you assess your toddlers’ readiness and don’t push them if they aren’t ready. Try to get into the habit of making toilet training fun by illustrating with their doll or reading a special book. Don’t ever pressure them or get frustrated when they are unable to do it. The more you are at ease over this process the faster your toddler will be out of diapers!