Potty training can be a daunting thought to a parent. Especially if you have never potty trained a child before. I remember thinking “What am I suppose to be doing here?” when I was thinking about potty training
my firstborn daughter. Many times potty training tips aren’t given as freely by family and friends as say when to start feeding baby foods or what kinds of diapers you should use. Of course, you will quickly hear opinions if you don’t potty train your child as soon as some people think you should. As a mother of three daughters I have completed potty training with two girls already and am in the midst of the third. Here are a few tips, suggestions and strategies that I have used and learned over the years. I hope they are of some help to you and your daughter during this new journey of becoming potty trained!
For me, one of the main milestones that needs to occur before I will begin potty training, is that the child must be able to walk. Being able to walk and sit is a big deal to a toddler. Once the child is old enough to perform those two tasks then I know that potty training isn’t far behind.
Once walking has been fully established it’s time to purchase a potty chair. I like to purchase one that is simple and has muitiple functions. For example, the very first potty chair I purchased was a potty, a step stool and a booster seat for the diningroom table. I like baby items that are multifunctional. You, of course, should choose the right one for you and your child. If you have fallen in love with one of those musical pottys then by all means buy it! I know I think they are terribly adorable but just not my style when it comes to potty training.
Once you have the potty chair, strategically place it where your child will see and be able to inspect it on a daily basis. I like to leave our potty chair in the main livingroom. This is where we spend the majority of our day so it just makes sense to have this new contraption in the area that your toddler spends their time. By doing this you will give your daughter plenty of time and opportunity for her to get use to seeing and being around the potty chair. Trust me when I say that you can NOT force an unwilling toddler to sit on a potty chair that they have not become accustomed to.
After you have had the potty chair for a few weeks and your daughter is use to seeing and being around it, it is time to start looking for potty training readiness signs from your child. Does she show interest in your bathroom habits? Has she started to show her displeasure in being wet or dirty? Have you noticed that she has a regular bathroom schedule? Does she have occassional dry diapers throughout the day? If you start noticing these signs then it is time to start introducing the idea of actually using that cute potty chair you purchased a few weeks ago.
Readiness to potty train can be different from child to child. While some girls, like mine, are completely trained by 2-2 1/2 years old, many don’t begin training until 3-4 years of age. Potty training isn’t something you can or even should consider forcing on your toddler. There are certain physical aspect of their little bodies that have to mature before toddlers are even able to control their bodily potty functions. While some children’s bodies may mature earlier than others, this does not mean that all will. So if you are patient with your child the potty training will go a lot smoother in the end.
Books are a good resource when you want to introduce potty training to your daughter. Your local library is a bounty of information. There are many children’s books about potty training on the market. Children love books and stories so this is a natural source of information for them. Talk to your daughter about each story and about how the child in the story is such a big kid for using their own potty chairs. Talk it up about how fantastic it is to use a potty and about how it will open up a new world of wonderful things, like what we call Big Girl Panties.
Speaking of underwear, it’s a good idea to have plenty on hand once the potty training begins. I like the 5-ply ones that you can buy at almost any store that carries baby products. I buy our’s at Wal-mart. They are made by Gerber and come in a variety of colorful designs to draw your child’s attention to them. Once your daughter becomes enamored with wearing “real” underwear then she is less likely to want to soil them. I know some of you are wondering about disposable training pants. Yes they are great at keeping the potty training accidents contained but they are so much like diapers that some children just don’t see why they should bother with going potty when these training pants will take care of it. That’s why I like cloth. Children can feel when they are wet much easier than with the disposable ones.
OK so now the real fun begins. Pick a day on the calendar and just jump right in to potty training your daughter on that day. I prefer to choose a day that I plan to be home the majority of the day. This makes it easier to be more consistent with the potty training. Some people like to go cold turkey on their chosen calendar day. They prefer to just throw out all of the diapers and refuse to use them again. I, myself, have found that this route does not work with my household and our routines and schedules. Of course, if you would like to try this choice then by all means try it. It may just be the right option for you and your child.
On your chosen day of potty training, start the morning out by putting the training panties on your daughter. You can dress your daughter in loose fitting clothes, that are easy to quickly remove, if you would like to but I prefer to just let them wear the panties because I EXPECT accidents and this cuts down on changing clothes and the growing laundry. Start out by explaining to your child that it’s Potty Training Day and that they get to wear their new panties all day. Make sure to show lots of enthusiasm when you are informing your daughter of the day’s activities. With my girls, just the thrill of finally wearing their new panties is a great motivator for the day.
Throughout the day keep track, either mentally or in a notebook, of all the times your daughter uses the bathroom whether in the potty or in her panties. This will help you to keep track of when she will most likely need to go the next day. Children and adults are usually pretty regular throughout the day with going to the bathroom. Once you have gotten an idea of when your daughter will need to potty, it is a good idea to go ahead and take her to the potty. I use to tell my older girls that I just wanted to see if they had to go potty. Usually this was enough to get them to easily cooperate. If your daughter doesn’t use the potty then that’s ok. Just bring her back in 5-10 minutes and try it again. If she is already wet then that’s ok too. Just change her and come back at the next scheduled potty time. If your daughter actually uses her potty then PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE!! You can never praise your daughter too much during potty training. My toddler LOVES all the praise she is getting these days. She thrives off of it and will even clap and tell herself that she’s a good girl when she uses her potty.
During potty training it’s a good idea to always keep an eye on your toddler. Most, if not all, toddlers will have some sort of action that shows us that they are either about to go potty or are in the process of it. It could be particular facial expressions, a little wiggly dance around or even a little cry once they have started potty training. My youngest makes this funny little face when she’s about to wet. It’s a cross between shock and panic. That face ALWAYS tells me that we better HURRY. You’ll also want to keep an eye on your toddler just in case there are accidents. You certainly don’t want to walk into a room only to quickly notice a smell that should not be there.
Potty training is something that requires a large amount of commitment on your part. You have to be consistent with it. Potty training will not be as successful or move as smoothly if you are not consistent. So when you decide to begin potty training it is a good idea to make sure that you will be able to keep up the routine that you are creating. The length of time between start and complete potty training can vary greatly from child to child but I do suggest that you expect several months of potty training before you are considered finished with this stage in parenting. My girls took six months to one year of potty training to be considered fully day and night potty trained.
Accidents are inevitable. They WILL occur and there’s just no getting around that. So be prepared and be PATIENT. I know some parents will get upset when an accident happens and will then scold their child. This can, in turn, jeopardize the potty training. We don’t want the children to feel ashamed or embarrassed. We just want them to understand that it was an accident and that we know they will do better next time. So when these accidents occur, just simply clean it up and change their panties. I would (and do) tell my girls that it was alright, it was just an accident and that I know they will make it to the potty next time. Usually if accidents happened it was usually because I was busy and not paying as close attention to them as I should have been. So I would make sure to pay closer attention so that the next time would be a success. Then praise, praise, praise.
Now once your toddler starts getting the hang of using the potty regularly throughout the day, you can start moving the actual potty seat closer to the bathroom that your child will use most often. Just move the potty a foot or so every couple of days. Once you have it in the bathroom you can start introducing the big toilet to your child. My older girls would not use the toilet unless I had their potty chair seat on it (so a potty chair with a removable seat is helpful) but my youngest, that we are training right now, is more than happy to plop her tiny behind on the big toilet seat. It all depends on how your child feels about the toilet. Just follow their lead with this transistion. It helps if your daughter can see you using the toilet too. It just helps to reinforce the idea that using the potty is something “big girls” do.
The main thing to remember while you are potty training your daughter is to keep it a fun and exciting activity. Just like anything a toddler enjoys doing, you have to make it fun. Be enthusiastic and upbeat about it and then your toddler will think it’s a fantastic idea to try this thing you call a potty. For older toddlers you could even use a reward chart of some kind to reward her each time she uses the potty. A sticker chart is fun for older toddlers since they have a facination with stickers. Also remember to PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE and PRAISE some more. Potty training takes time and patience but in the end you will be rewarded for your endurance by the disappearance of diapers.