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If you are here, you are most likely wondering when to potty train a toddler, or perhaps whether or not your toddler is ready to start potty training right now.
When is it time to begin potty training?
Most children are ready for potty training between 18 months and 24months old.
- By age 1, most babies have stopped having bowel movements at night
- By age 2, some children will be dry during the day, but this is still quite early
- By age 3, 9 out of 10 children are dry most days (However, it is important to note that all children have the odd accident, especially when they’re excited, upset or absorbed in something else).
- By age 4, the majority of children are reliably dry during the day.
It usually takes longer for children to learn to use a potty throughout the night, with most children learning between the ages of 3 and 5. However, up to 1 in 5 children aged 5 sometimes wet the bed.
Most parents start to potty train their little ones between the ages of two and two and a half, and many parents wait until the Summer when there are fewer clothes to take off their kid.
Age isn’t the only factor in potty training, however. Potty training readiness depends on your child’s developmental milestones, including physical, mental and behavioural development. It is important to avoid potty training your child too early, as it may take longer to teach them in the future.
- Can your child walk to and sit on the potty?
- Can you child pull down their pants and put them back on?
- Is your child interested in using the toilet or wearing real underwear?
- Can your child keep a dry nappy for a minimum of 2 hours?
- Is your child able to follow simple instructions?
- Can your child communicate when they need to go to the potty?
- Is your child showing interest when you go to the bathroom?
- Does your child head to a private room or area to pee or poop?
- Does your child point to or touch their nappy as they’re peeing or pooping?
- Can your child sit still?
- Does your toddler keep their nappy dry during naps?
If you answered yes to at least half of these questions, it might be that your child is ready to start being potty trained.
How can I potty train my toddler?
- Choose words for “pee” and “poop” and stick with them. Don’t use any negative words like “dirty” or “smelly”, which can make them feel bad for going to the toilet.
- Make sure the potty is ready for your child. It is usually placed in the room where your child spends most of their time initially, then moved into the bathroom (so your child associates the bathroom with going to the toilet).
- Schedule potty time for your little one. This tip is especially helpful and good practice for your little one. It is recommended to schedudle potty time for your toddler at 2hour intervals, as well as just after they wake from a nap (or after they wake up in the morning) and before they go to bed.
- Make sure you get your child to the bathroom/potty quickly once they start showing signs that they need to go. (Some signs could be squatting, wriggling around or holding their genitals). An extra added tip is to make sure that they are wearing clothes which are easy to remove quickly.
- Explain to your daughter the importance of wiping from front to back to make sure she doesn’t get an infection.
- Teach your children to wash their hands after they go to the potty.
- After around 2 weeks of success with the potty, you should be able to stop putting nappies on your little one and swap them for either underwear or training pants.
Night Time Potty Training
Night time training usually takes longer, with most children keeping dry through the night between the ages of 3.5 – 5 years old.
It is important to remember that children develop at different rates, and that if they wet their training pants through the night, not to berate them, just to gently remind them, “It’s okay, you can try to make it to the potty next time.”
The following signs may indicate that your child is ready to start potty training at night-time:
- They wake up with a dry nappy every morning.
- They may ask to go to the toilet during the night.
- They may use the potty or toilet at night on their own.
- They don’t want to wear a pull-up or training pants at night, and would rather wear nothing or “big-kid” underwear.
- They go to the potty first thing in the morning to empty their bladder.
If your child is showing signs that they are ready for night-time potty training, it is important that you prepare things in advance:
- Waterproof mattress covers are a a life-saver to stop your child’s bedding from getting ruined by accidents throughout the night.
- Dress your child in easy to remove sleep-wear.
- Have a light source in their bedroom so that your child can see where they are going during the night if they need to use the potty. This can either be a night light or a small lamp left on in the corner of their room.
- Have spare bedding and sleep-wear at the ready, should an accident occur.
- Explain to your little one that you are going to leave them in “big-kid pants” for the night, and that if they need the toilet they can use the potty during the night.
If you are having problems potty training your child, or if your child seems ready to be potty trained but is having difficulties, speak to your child’s doctor for guidance.