There is no particular age at which you need to toilet train your child. Every child is unique. The majority of children are ready sometime between 18 months and 3 years, although most do not master readiness skills until after their 2nd birthday.
In order for your child to succeed, they need to be physical, emotionally and mentally ready. There are a number of stages that your child will go through while developing bladder and bowel control.
If any of the Signs of Readiness listed below are clearly present, it’s probably time to start thinking about toilet training.
Timing is very important when it comes to toilet training, consider delaying toilet training if your child is sick or if there are big changes in your little one’s life, like moving house, starting childcare or if a new baby is on the way.
How do I get started?
The toilet training process should start well before you put your toddler in a pair of training pants or place them on a potty.
Young children need to be gradually introduced to the whole concept of going to the toilet like a Big Kid. Take the time to make sure your child understands what it’s all about before you start.
Children are usually ready for toilet (potty) training sometime around their second birthday. Here is a list of things that most children are able to do when they are ready –
- Can speak a few words and understands simple directions.
- Stay dry for hours
- Have regular bowel movements
- Are able to delay using the washroom for a few minutes.
- Can pull down their pants.
- Get on and off the potty seat
- Want to do things by themselves
- Can tell the caretaker when they need to use the washroom
You can help your child get ready and successful at potty by doing the following things –
- Teaching the names of the body parts and their functions. For example – bowel movement
- Teaching them to wear clothes and take them off.
- Teaching the child to flush the toilet
- Helping your child by getting used to the potty seat.
- Many children are afraid of falling from a toilet seat. You can help your child by starting out with a potty chair on the floor.
- You can train your child to use a footrest in case you intend to use a toilet seat.
- Once you make sure that your house is well equipped, your child is ready and the time is right, you can start potty training.
- Ask your child to use the washroom several times a day preferably before naptime and immediately after waking up.
- Before and after waking up.
- Half an hour before and after meals.
- Every 2 hours.
Every child is unique in achieving milestones or getting ready for them. If your child is successful, praise her every time she is successful. If she is unsuccessful please don’t punish her or make her feel guilty, tell her you both will try better next time. Children who are potty trained may still have accidents. Children tend to forget when they are sitting, throwing a tantrum, playing, and many a time during winters when it’s very cold outside.
Children learn daytime control before night time. Most children are toilet trained by 3 to 4 years of age. Children first learn to control their bowel before their bladder.
Note – Talk to your healthcare provider if your child is older than 4 years and is not toilet trained during the day. And if your child is older than 7 years and does not stay dry during the night.
How long should I expect toilet training to take?
In toilet training development there is great variation from child to child. In general, the readier a child is the quicker the process. The average time it takes for a child to achieve daytime dryness is between 3 and 6 months. Just work at the pace set by your child and don’t worry if there are a few setbacks along the way – be patient and continue to encourage your child. Only begin when your child has shown most of the readiness skills if you start too early it will just take longer.
Tips for success
- Help your child to go to the bathroom every 2 to 3 hours to help prevent urgent and stressful trips to the toilet. Make going to the potty part of your daily routine, such as when your child wakes up, after meals or before nap time.
- Have all your child’s caregivers, including grandparents and babysitters, follow the same routine.
- Have your child use the potty 15 to 30 minutes after meals. The body has a natural reflex to go poop after eating.
- It is best to teach boys to pee sitting down at first. Put cereal pieces in the toilet for your son to aim at when learning how to pee standing up.
- Accidents will happen. It is important not to punish your child or act disappointed. Let your child know that this can sometimes happen when you are learning.
- Keep special potty time books or toys in the bathroom for your child to look at or play with.
- Dress your child in simple-to-use clothing while they are learning. Choose easy-to-pulldown pants and avoid shirts that snap at the crotch.
- Praise your child for sitting on the potty, even when nothing happens!