Everything you need to know about the 'when and how' of potty training
Oh, the joys of being able to say, 'Diapers are no longer a part of my daily routine.' Want to be able to say that about your child's routine? Find out when and how long it takes to potty train a toddler.
There was a time when mums were under the impression that a child’s second birthday was the magical day of potty training. Yep, the second birthday was the day when your child went from being a diaper-wearing baby to being a big kid wearing big-kid panties or underwear.
But doesn’t it sound ridiculous to have a single day when this big transition takes place regardless of how different each child is?
When to potty train
It did work for my son though. On his second birthday, I replaced his diaper with Smurf undies, put his plastic pants on and the journey to being diaper-free began. It didn’t take too long — maybe a month or so. I was pleased and relieved when it was all said and done.
And then came Elizabeth. My precocious seventeen-month-old, who had the vocabulary of a three-year-old, told me she wanted to go potty like a big girl. And so she did. What was I supposed to do? Make her wait until she was two? I don’t think so!
The ‘moral’ of this story is that the ‘when’ of potty training depends on the child. Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine if they are ready to take this big step:
- Can your child understand and follow simple directions?
- Does your child tell you and/or complain when they are wet or dirty?
- Have they expressed curiosity and interest in using the toilet and wearing underwear?
- Can your child pull their pants up and down with little or no help?
- Does your child stay dry for at least 3 to 4 hours throughout the day?
How to potty train
If you can answer ‘yes’ to most of the questions above, you can begin to introduce the concept of using the ‘big potty.’ You wouldn’t start painting your house without having the paint and brushes ready to go, would you? Then don’t start trying to potty train your child until you have the proper equipment. You will need:
- A potty chair.
- Underwear — preferably with their favourite cartoon characters on them.
- Plastic pants to wear over their underwear.
- A great attitude and a good dose of patience.
- Taking regular and frequent potty breaks. Take breaks first thing in the morning, after meals, before and after nap time, once every hour in-between…practice makes perfect.
- Don’t put your child off. When they say they have to go…GO! And go quickly!
- Consider incentives. In the beginning, give your toddler a special toy or treat whenever you sit them on the potty. This will help take their mind off of the task at hand and will help them to relax.
- Again, don’t push. If your child isn’t ready, they just aren’t ready.
How long will it take to potty train?
This is the most difficult question to answer regarding potty training your child. Generally speaking, you should notice significant progress in 2 to 3 months as long as you are consistent and diligent in your training and as long as your child is ready.
It is also important to note that children will learn to stay dry all day much sooner than they will through the night. Again, it’s the whole relaxation thing. Don’t let this get you down or frustrate you.
Whatever you do, don’t despair. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.