Today, we speak with expert Olivia Edwards about Potty training toddlers, Olivia shares her knowledge and advice on potty training, potty training tips and so much more.
In this article:
- When Should You Start Potty Training your Baby?
- What are the Signs your Toddler Could Be Ready for Potty Training
- What are the Signs Your Child is not Ready for Potty Training?
- How Long Does Potty Training Take?
- Is Potty Training Boys Harder than Potty Training Girls?
- What Should I Do If My Toddler Won’t Poo on the Potty?
- What Shall I Do When Leaving the House During Potty Training?
- What are your Best Tips for Potty Training?
- Should you do Potty Training at Night at the Same Time as Potty Training in the Day?
- Can you Share Tips and Tricks for Night Time Potty Training Success?
- Contact Olivia Edwards – Positive Parent Coach
When Should You Start Potty Training your Baby?
Wondering when should you start potty training your baby? In theory, the best window for potty training your child is between 20-30 months.
This is based on the fact that before and directly after this time your child will be going through other developmental leaps and regressions such as in sleep and language development.
So this window helps to keep things simple for them in terms of focusing on one change at a time.
When There Are No Big Life Changes Happening
However, every child is different and you might be going through transitions in other areas such as a sibling or starting a preschool.
If your child is currently going through any big life changes, you should delay potty training for a while until things have become normal once again.
When You Have the Right Mindset
I also believe that you need to be in the right frame of mind in order to support your child successfully and calmly.
So if you have a lot of things going on, or are going through something particularly stressful, especially if it will ease off in the future, you might want to wait until things have calmed down.
When They Show Signs of Readiness
It is best to wait until your child is showing signs of readiness.
Without them showing any signs of readiness, introducing the idea of potty training will be harder because your child might take more time to grasp it, or they might not be biologically ready, so starting at this time could impact on their whole experience and make it more of a negative one.
Are you unsure what you will need for potty training? Why not read our article Potty Training Essentials ?
What are the Signs your Toddler Could Be Ready for Potty Training?
Signs to look for to show a readiness to learn how to potty train are:
- Recognising when they have done a wee or poo
- Letting your know if they need to do a wee or poo
- Showing an interest in sitting on a potty or toilet (even if this is with their clothes on)
- Going for longer periods of time without being wet such as being dry during a nap
- Showing signs of independence in regards to being able to dress themselves or starting to do this
What are the Signs Your Child is not Ready for Potty Training?
I would say if your child is unable to communicate in any way to you that they have done a wee or poo, then they might not be at a developmental level to understand when they need to go, or be bothered by the feeling of wetness or being dirty if they have gone.
Other things to consider are how comfortable they feel around a potty or toilet, or if they are adamant that they want to keep their nappy on.
Again, this suggests they might not be ready yet and need a bit more time.
Finally, if your child struggles with independence around dressing or can’t go longer than an hour without having a wee then they probably aren’t ready yet.
How Long Does Potty Training Take?
This is the million dollar question! There is no clear cut answer because every child is different.
All 3 of my children have started and completed at different times and the duration of potty training differed for them all too.
On average, children can take between 10-14 months to potty train. This is from first showing an interest to successfully using the potty or toilet regularly.
Other research has also found that the earlier a child starts, the longer it can take, meaning that children who start potty training later often catch up.
I would say if you can imagine the art of potty training as a marathon, rather than a sprint, that will help you to take it one step at a time and not get so frustrated if you experience accidents or regressions.
Remember how many times your child had to fall down before they could run? It’s a similar concept.
We’re better off giving them calm and empathic support instead of rushing them. No one will ever ask your child as an adult how long it took them to potty train or when they learned so try not to worry if you feel your child is doing this later than their peers.
Is Potty Training Boys Harder than Potty Training Girls?
There is some research that suggests that girls take to potty training easier, but this is quite mixed.
Girls tend to be quicker to communicate and use language than boys so that could be a factor as they are better at telling you when they need to go.
But on the whole, there aren’t any major differences and any differences that do exist get smaller and smaller the older children get.
In a nutshell, they usually catch up!
I would consider though that some boys don’t like sitting down for wees and might respond better if you let them stand up or vice versa. So this might need some trial and error to find what works for you and your child.
What Should I Do If My Toddler Won’t Poo on the Potty?
It is extremely normal for children to master doing a wee on the potty or toilet but to struggle with doing a poo.
One idea behind this is that it can feel to the child as if something is leaving their body and this can make them anxious or scared.
I would say take a relaxed approach that’s led by your child.
If they aren’t ready to do a poo on the potty or toilet yet, then don’t force them!
You don’t want to add to the challenges or create any negative associations. Especially as this can lead to medical complications of purposefully holding in poo.
So honour their decision to put a nappy back on for a poo and keep the positive exposure going so that, one day, they will be ready and you can support them through that.
If you did feel there might be an issue with your child being constipated or holding in poo you can reach out to your GP for further advice.
What Shall I Do When Leaving the House During Potty Training?
I would highly recommend getting a travel potty, one that closes tight ideally so you have easy access to one when out and about.
I would also recommend being prepared with spare clothes, wipes, nappy sacks etc so if accidents occur it feels less stressful as you have everything you need.
When first potty training, it’s great if you can stay in or close to home for the first few days to give your child the best chance of creating positive habits around using the potty or toilet, but if you need to go out try not to panic and go prepared.
Short bursts are better than all day out of the house.
If you’re worried about your car seat you can use puppy pads under your child’s bottom or a towel (make sure they are still safely strapped in).
I would also encourage your child to go for a wee before you leave or when you first get to your location.
Again, try not to add pressure and make this stressful but instead say you are going and would they like to come and help. Perhaps they could pass you the loo roll or flush for you.
You can then see if they will go for a ‘just in case’ wee. This is more relaxed than telling your child you need to go to the toilet now.
What are your Best Tips for Potty Training?
Below are the 5 best potty training tips to make your potty training journey easier.
1) Potty Training Tip #1 – Have Realistic Expectations
Having realistic expectations is key because if you start to feel like you’ve failed your whole mindset will be negatively impacted and your child will pick up on this.
2) Potty Training Tip #2 – Celebrate the Small Steps
Celebrate the small steps, talk to other parents in the same situation who will be real about it and not give the rose tinted idealist view and share your frustrations with your partner or friends so you have an outlet away from your child.
3) Potty Training Tip #3 – Stay Calm
Secondly preparation will help you remain calm because it makes things easier for those times you have to deal with an unexpected poo, or any wet clothes.
4) Potty Training Tip #4 – Locate the Toilets
Finding out where toilets are when you get to a new places can help to relieve any potential anxiety in the moment when your child suddenly announces they need to go right now too.
5) Potty Training Tip #5 – Keep the Pressure Off
Finally don’t put pressure on yourself. Your child will get there when they get there.
In my experience , it’s better to start later when your child is actually ready than try to rush them so try not to worry about what other people are doing.
If you’re really worried then you can always reach out to a professional like myself for reassurance and support in gently encouraging them in the right direction.
Should you do Potty Training at Night at the Same Time as Potty Training in the Day?
Most children are potty trained in the day several months- or even years!- before they are successfully potty trained at nighttime.
Again it depends on the child.
I would take their lead and look for signs of readiness.
Some children ask their parents to stop wearing nappies or pull-ups. I would listen to this and, even if you are worried they might still wet the bed, try and trust them and let them try. Find out more about pull-ups vs diapers.
Expect some accidents, so again, prepare with waterproof protectors, towels and spare bedding and PJs easily to hand (trust me at 3am, you want this to be as easy as possible!).
You might also notice that your child regularly has a dry nappy when they wake up.
This suggests they might be ready to try and go without a nappy or pull-up overnight.
Can you Share Tips and Tricks for Night Time Potty Training Success?
Below are some potty training tips for night time potty training success.
Listen to Them
If you think your child is showing signs of being ready to potty train at night then try them.
Remove the nappy or pull-ups and let them know they can do a wee on the potty or toilet.
Leave a Potty in Their Room
You could try leaving a potty in their room for them to access themselves (only if this is going to be safe) and encourage them to go for a wee before bedtime.
Reduce Fluid Intake Before Bed
I would also advise trying to reduce the intake of fluids from an hour before bedtime.
You can always put some water in their room for them to have in the night if they need it once they’re asleep, but remember that the more they drink the more likely it is they will need to wee.
Discuss The Plan
If you can I would also have a conversation with them about what to do if they wake up needing a wee, are they going to shout or for you or come find you or access the potty/toilet independently? This helps everyone to be clear on the expectations and what might happen.
You could also cover what they can do if they wee in their bed and highlight to them that you won’t be cross.
If they do have accidents (which is likely at some point) then try to remain calm, give them reassurance and show them you aren’t angry and help them to get clean and into new PJs.
You might also need to change the bedding for them and help them back to bed.
Contact Olivia Edwards – Positive Parent Coach
If you would like to work with Olivia, you can contact her via the link below:
We recently shared an article on Toy Rotation if you would like to learn more way to make parenting life easier.
The Positive Parent Coach®️. Olivia helps Parents stay calm, develop their confidence and stay connected to their children when experiencing a range of challengesOlivia has over 15 years experience in Psychology, Education and Child Development. She has published 2 scientific papers, trained as a specialist in The Early Years and completed training in Theraplay. She has also continued to develop herknowledge and training around Positive Psychology and Positive Parenting, as well as Internal Family Systems therapy. She has a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a 2 year old, so you can trust that she really does understand the challenges and demands of motherhood, and how to juggle responsibilities.