If your toddler gives you signs of potty training readiness, it’s time to transition from diapers to underwear. This process is usually arduous for most parents, but it is certainly not impossible.
As long as you are patient and encourage your toddler, he will respond positively. But before you begin, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Can you suddenly begin the diapers to underwear transition?
The answer is, NO!
When to Start Potty-Training
Experts believe that a child is developmentally ready to start potty training and make the transition from diapers to underwear between ages 18 t 24 months. However, some children aren’t ready until they’re about 3 years old.
Avoid forcing your child to reach this milestone before they are ready. Doing so will just backfire and it might take longer for them to potty train if you do.
How long does potty training take?
While we all want our children to master using the potty right away, the truth is it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your patience will be tested as your child resists the transition (especially if they’re not ready) or have some accidents along the way.
The average time for a child to finish potty training and fully transition to no diapers is between 3 to 6 months. One of the hardest skills for them to master is staying dry at night, which can take months.
At What Age Should a Child Be Fully Potty Trained?
40 to 60 per cent of children become fully potty trained around 36 months. However, this can, again, vary according to how ready your child is. If you start potty training late at about 24 or 36 months, they won’t be ready until they’re about 4 years old.
Like other developmental milestones, children develop at their own pace. But ideally, they should already be potty-trained before they enter preschool.
Signs That Your Child Is Ready To Make the Transition
Your first task should be to track your child’s readiness in order to make the transition. This is crucial because you cannot force this change onto him unless he is ready. So begin by tracking the following signs in your child:
- Pulls down his dry diaper
- Hides when he poops or pees
- Takes interest in how you do your business or sneaks into the bathroom when you are there
- Doesn’t soil his diaper for a few hours
- Wakes up with clean and dry diapers and then proceeds to remove his diaper to poop
- Informs you that he has either soiled his diaper or wants to go to the bathroom to pee or poop
Remember that your child has been in diapers since birth. He has always been peeing and pooping in the snug feeling of a diaper. So moving from diapers to underwear can be strange. But if you observe these signs, he is certainly ready.
Diapers to Underwear: How to Make the Transition Easy for Your Toddler
So how do you begin? Here’s how.
Image Source: iStock
1. Get ready with new underwear
As soon as you notice these signals, get ready to make the transition. Now is a good time to purchase new underwear.
These can include pull ups and padded underwear just to ease the toddler in. It’s actually best to transition from diapers to pull-ups, especially during the day.
For nighttime, you can get padded underwear before you attempt to go through the night without any protection. Also, check if your child is waking up with dry underwear after his night’s sleep. Or take note if he wets the bed and the time he does it. But don’t worry, your child will eventually get through it and come out successful. Every child does.
2. Allow your toddler to lead
Just as is the case with breastfeeding, the transition from diapers to underwear should also be toddler-led. Allow your child to lead you and don’t pressure him too much.
You can do this by placing potty seats in each of your bathrooms. Ask him if he wants to sit on the potty, and teach him how it’s better than using a diaper.
This may sound strange and even gross to others, but if your toddler has seen somebody using the potty, it can encourage him.
You can try this method if you feel nothing else works. He might learn quickly through a practical approach.
3. Wait until he asks for underwear
In order to interest him in wearing underwear, you can take him shopping. Ask him to select the undies he likes best. This will give him something to look forward to as him makes the ‘diaper to underwear’ transition. You can also find underwear with really cute designs that may encourage your toddler to wear them.
Since he has already seen his new underwear, allow him to ask for it. Wait until he tells you himself that he is ready. While he isn’t ready, do not pressure him or remind him of the purchase. This transition should not be forced. In fact, it should feel natural to your kid.
4. Dress him in the underwear
When your toddler asks to wear what you bought together, allow him to dress in it. This indicates his desire to make the big move and start potty training. But don’t forget to stay positive and encouraging. You may notice that he fails the first few times, but don’t worry, your toddler will eventually come around.
Encourage him to understand that mistakes happen and that it’s all right. But he must slowly move towards using the potty you’ve set up for him.
Ask him to follow the sensations of his body. When he feels the need to take a dump or pee, he should come straight to you.
5. Be persistent about the transition
Just as with every other parenting activity, you will need all your patience for this task as well. If your toddler had an accident on the very first day, don’t fall straight back to diapers. Give him some time to adjust.
Ask your toddler every 20 minutes if he wants to use the potty. If he nods in agreement, help him do his business and teach him how underwear is the best option for doing it in the pot. If he says ‘no,’ ask him again later.
But don’t just stop after trying for a day. Keep at it and you will notice how quickly your toddler will learn.
In order to set his night time routine you might have to switch over to pull-ups or even cloth diapers such as the ones in this image.
6. Remain vigilant and supervise
It’s not enough to just let your child do his business and make him understand the importance of transitioning from diapers to underwear. You have to be there to help him and supervise his actions.
Right off the bat, you should also expect some accidents. As with everything new that he learns, it will take him some time to pick this up too. So help your child in a matter-of-fact way, without being harsh or strict with him.
Don’t worry, he’ll soon become adept at potty training. And soon, he’ll do his business on his own.
7. Set a nighttime routine
In the beginning, you will have to manage a lot of accidents during the night. So just to give yourself a bit of rest from all the potty training work during the day, switch to pull-ups or even cloth diapers at nighttime.
Once your toddler begins using the potty for his business and gets comfortable with underwear, you can try nap times with diapers.
A recent study by the University of Michigan, US, notes that a child may not stay dry during the night till he is five or six years of age. The experts suggest that you can try eliminating fluids from his supper in order to check if he wets the bed during the night. And also, encourage your toddler to pee before he hits the sack.
8. They can rely on you
Assure your child that if he has any accidents in the night, he can rely on you – even if it means that you have to wake up in the middle of night.
If you react angrily or protest about waking up in the middle of the night to clean up, it will send the wrong signal. Your toddler might feel that he is wrong in waking you up.
This might even set him back a step, and he might start bed-wetting more often. So be calm and help your child get comfortable with you.
Notes in Potty Training Boys: Should Toddlers Wear Boxers or Briefs?
Image Source: iStock
According to child psychologist Heather Wittenberg, “Girls tend to be complete potty training earlier than boys because girls, on average, tend to be a bit more advanced in physical and language development—skills that help move potty training along.”
However, it does not mean that all boys take longer to potty train than girls. There are also girls who tend to take long, especially when they started not being ready.
But for parents of boys who are taking their sweet time potty training, here are some pointers to move the process along:
- Get some cute training pants or training underwear for boys. There are a lot to choose from, which features their favorite characters or animals.
- When should my son start wearing boxers? Parents usually transition their children from diapers to underwear at 2 to 3 years old. About that time, boys get used to wearing training pants or straight to briefs. But as your child grows, you may ask him if he’s more comfortable wearing boxers as these have more leg room, which is less binding. Otherwise, make sure your boy’s underwear is not too tight on the crotch.
- Boxer briefs are the best choice for little boys as it provides the loose comfort of boxers, but with the secure fit of briefs.
What You Must Know During the Transition From Diaper to Underwear
Image source: iStock
Now while these steps will help you set a smooth transition from diapers to underwear in place, there is something you should know. If your toddler struggles or resists this transition, he is telling you that he is not ready yet. So back up and stop pushing him.
Sometimes pressuring your child into transitioning can be harmful to his self-esteem. He may feel that he is unable to learn something important and his failure will take away your love.
The best thing to do in such a situation is to always stay positive. You should know that there will be accidents and your toddler is too sensitive for forceful pressure. It might shake his confidence. So it’s up to you to remain strong and positive, especially during the long nights where you’re constantly changing sheets.
But one day, your child will triumph. You will reap the benefits of your patience and succeed in this transition along with your toddler.
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