One of the biggest milestones in a toddler's first few years is when they become potty trained and learn how to use the toilet instead of diapers. This is a big deal! They are learning how to have control over their body and use the bathroom like big people do. In order for them to be successful at this, they need your support and encouragement along the way, some more than others.
You will hear stories of parents who were able to potty train their children in a day or two, or that their toddler literally trained themselves. Then, there are others who struggle with potty training for months and even years, their little one steadfastly refusing to "go" on the toilet. It is a wide spectrum when it comes to helping your child ditch the diapers, and you never quite know how it will go until you're in the midst of it all. There are a few things, however, that you can do to make the process as simple and stress-free as possible. Here are 10 tips to help potty training go smoothly.
10 Don't start until you see signs of readiness
This is by far the most important tip out of them all. Do not begin potty training until you see some signs that your little one is ready. Some of the main signs will be them showing interest in the bathroom, telling you they have to pee before going in their diaper, or insisting that you change them as soon as they've gone in their diaper.
Sometimes there is an urgency to begin potty training, such as if your little one is about to start school or daycare and they need to be out of diapers. However, if you can wait until your child is showing an interest in it, you will have much more success, and the process will likely go that much faster.
9 Don't rush it
Be prepared for setbacks and regressions when it comes to potty training, and whatever you do, don't rush it. Sometimes, the timing works such that you have another baby on the way when you are in the middle of potty training your older child. Be prepared that this monumental change in their lives could cause them to regress in their toilet training.
Don't lose faith though! Take a break for a little while and come back to it. Your child will get out of diapers eventually, not to worry. But the more you rush it, the more stress you put on them and yourself, and it will likely take twice as long. Take a deep breath, buy another box of diapers, and try again another day.
8 Let them be naked as much as possible
If it is summer time when you begin to potty train your toddler (which I highly recommend!), let them run around naked as much as possible. Keep the potty nearby, and let them run to it whenever they need to, without worrying about trying to get a diaper or pull-up off fast enough.
If you're playing out in the backyard, let your toddler run free and bring the potty outside with you. It just makes the whole process that much easier, and it helps your little one to become more in tune with their body and what happens when they pee, without a diaper there to catch it all. This does wonders in helping them to understand the various sensations of going to the bathroom, which they will then connect to using the potty.
7 It's all about the bribes
Some parents disagree 100% with using bribes when potty training, others believe in it whole-heartedly. To each their own, do what works for you and your little one. In many households, parents use little treats as an incentive to get their toddler to use the toilet. Often, you'll hear of parents giving their child 1 mini M&M for a pee, 2 for a poo, and 3 if they wipe themselves.
Other parents use stickers, and their toddler has a little sticker collection that they add to when they've used the bathroom. Parents who don't particularly like the treat idea might simply offer lots of praise and encouragement to keep their little one motivated; perhaps they get to call a grandparent to share their "big kid" news, or they get an exciting High-5 from the older sibling. Whatever works!
6 Enlist the help of an older sibling
Speaking of older siblings, enlist their help with this endeavor as well! Kids usually love to help, and if you have an older child, they might be willing to lend some support to this process.
Some children can be very reluctant to use the potty, as they find it a bit scary. Ask an older sibling to sit on the toilet while they sit on the potty, and explain that there is nothing to be afraid of - it can work wonders!
5 Read and talk to them about the potty
Kids are learning so much language at this stage of their development, and they love to talk and listen and learn. Buy a few toddler books about using the potty, and read them to your toddler regularly, even before you begin potty training. Let them keep some of the books in the bathroom to look at while they're sitting on the potty.
Talk to them about what it means to use the potty, how we do it, why we do it, etc. and answer whatever questions they might have. Not all kids want to dissect the process like that, but some do. Be prepared to discuss and answer questions as your child needs.
4 Do nightly checks before you go to bed
Once your child is out of diapers during the day, the last diaper you will probably get rid of is the night time one. It takes a little while longer to get rid of that diaper, because going through the night without peeing is something that will be very new to toddlers.
One way to help them with this stage is to wake them before you go to bed, and bring them to the toilet one last time. They will hardly even be awake, but you'll be able to usher them to the bathroom for a quick pee, and then get them settled back into bed before they've even woken up fully. It will help them to get through the night and wake up dry.
3 Let them pick out their "big kid" undies
This is often a huge success with kids - let them pick out their very own big kid underwear! Nothing will get them more excited about ditching those diapers than if they have some fancy new undies with their favorite cartoon characters on them.
Take them to the store and let them choose their favorite pack of undies to bring home. This will be a huge incentive for them to work on going to the bathroom on the toilet rather than in their diaper, because you can remind them that they don't want to get their new fancy underwear dirty by peeing in them. They will be more inclined to get to the potty in time!
2 Find the potty and location that works best for your child
There are lots of different potty seats and tools out on the market these days, it's sometimes hard to know what would work best for your little one. Don't spend a fortune on the latest gimmicks, because you just don't know what will work and what won't. Sometimes, a simple potty lid that affixes to the toilet is the best option. Pop a little stool in front so they can climb up, and then they really feel like they're a big kid!
Other times, kids are a bit intimidated by the size of the big toilet, even with the potty seat on it, and they prefer the little potties that you can buy. In terms of location, obviously, the bathroom makes the most sense. But, if you're working on just getting your kid to the potty in time, then bring the potty wherever you guys are playing or hanging out, at least for the first little while. You want your child to feel successful, and if they can reach the potty faster by having it closer, then why not?!
1 Block out a weekend, stay home, and ditch the diapers!
While this strategy might not work for everyone, it has worked for many, many people. Sometimes you just have to block off a weekend, plan to stay home, and ditch the diapers completely. Buy some leggings or snug-fitting pants (to catch any accidents - you'll thank me later), and let your little one roam around the house without a diaper on. Maybe even let them wear their fancy new big kid undies.
Bring them to the bathroom every 20 minutes or so, regardless if they have to pee or not. Extend the time longer and longer throughout the weekend, and eventually, you will find that they are having fewer accidents and making it to the bathroom in time. There may be regressions here and there, but many people have had great success with this method.