Baby and Toddler

Potty training tips for parents

Child sitting on a potty reading a book

Now that your little one is into the toddler stage, it may be time to think of the next big challenge: Potty training. So how do you know when to start, and how? Here are some useful potty training tips for parents.

When to start potty training?

Most children are ready for potty training some time between 20 months and 3 years, so there is plenty of time to work on this. It’s usually best to wait until your little one is displaying signs that they are ready.  

Signs your child is ready for potty training

Your child can communicate with one or two words, or signs.

They can follow simple 1-2 step instructions.

They are starting to try to feed or dress themselves.

Your child is starting to copy what others are doing.

Awareness – they will become aware of when they have wet/soiled their nappy and will find a way to tell you so they can be changed.

How and when?

Most parents say it’s easier to potty train during the summer, because it’s warm and you can let your little one toddle around without bottoms or just a pull up nappy. This makes it easy for them to go when they need to (but lets not get ahead of ourselves!)

What you will need

Aside from the potty itself, here’s a few things to have handy:

  • Spare pants/pull-up nappies
  • Changes of clothes, particularly bottoms and socks
  • Toilet/kitchen roll
  • Wipes
  • Plastic bags for wet/soiled clothing (if out or at creche)
  • Toilet training mats/mattress protectors

Introducing the potty

If your child is in creche, they may already have seen other children using the toilet or potty. If not, it’s a good idea to show your child the potty and tell them what it’s for. Then leave it for them to sit on when they feel like it, but don’t ask them to use it. That will come later.

Make it fun

Most toddlers won’t ask to use the toilet/potty because it’s not a fun thing to do. Make it fun by letting them choose toys to take to the bathroom with them, or let them decide what nappy/pants to wear or pick a special soap for handwashing.

Give them a choice.

The best way to get a toddler to NOT do something, is to ask them to do it. Toddlers love choice so instead of saying “Do you need to go to the toilet?” Try “Would you like to take Teddy to the toilet?” or “Would you like to skip to the toilet?” You are more likely to get a ‘Yes’.

Offer praise and rewards

Be encouraging and supportive when potty training, with plenty of praise when they succeed. Your child is learning a new skill so offer little rewards like stickers on a chart or that they can stick in a book. Once the chart/book is full, let them go shopping for a new toy.

Be ready for accidents

As your little one is learning to be aware of their bodily functions, there may be some accidents but this is all part of potty training. Keep some wipes handy and don’t make a big deal of it. Toilet training mats and mattress protectors on beds, sofas and car seats will prevent stains and keep them clean.

Out and about

Your child may need to ‘go’ when out, so you can continue potty training by investing in a travel potty. Always pack a change of clothes, pants/pull-ups and wipes.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Not every child will succeed with potty training the first time around. So, if it’s just not happening, your little one may not be ready. If this is the case, go back to the nappies for a few weeks, then try again later. They’ll get there in due course.

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Child sitting on potty while reading a book

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