Being independent when using the toilet is a milestone for our little ones. Kids have different learning phases, though. Some will take a few days, while others may take extra time. But with an extra dose of patience and support (plus humour) from us, we can help them ace it with flying colours! Here are the steps and tips to help you start potty training your child.

Identify the Signs for Toilet Readiness

Before getting to your game plan, your little student must first be ready for toilet training. When your child reaches the age of 18 months, he begins developing his bowel control and bladder control. These skills will make it easier for your child to understand toileting. So, wait for this perfect time and keep tabs on these other tell-tale signs:

  • Nappy dryness. Staying dry for at least 2 hours means your child can already store and hold urine. Regular bowel movement is a sign, too. And we’ll be changing fewer diapers!
  • Nappy no-no. If your child runs to the other room at the mere sight (or smell!) of a dirty diaper, he’ll be very eager to listen during your toilet training class.
  • Curious copycat. Though a little embarrassing, your child may be ready when he begins following you to the toilet and copying your toileting behaviour.
  • Little broadcaster. Be attentive when your child starts to become more vocal about his need to pee or poo. At times, he’ll match it with funny facial expressions.
  • Attentive learner. Your child is ready for toilet training when he can follow simple instructions, like walking to the bathroom, sitting for a short period or pulling his pants down.

Orient Your Child about Potty Training

Begin introducing toileting terms to your little one, like poo, wee and toilet paper. It’s also a good idea to use words like urinate or defecate for a smooth transition to adulthood. You can explain these terms further by discussing body signals or letting your child watch you do your toileting activities. An older sibling, family members or his favourite stuffed animal can join in the potty demo, too.

Try to come up with a toileting procedure with him. For example, tell him to let you know when he needs to go to the toilet so you can help him. Wearing underpants or training pants can also help him practice the pull-down manoeuvre.

Choose Between a Potty Chair and Toilet Seat

When it’s all systems go, the next phase when potty training your child is deciding whether to use a potty chair or the toilet. It all depends on your child’s comfort and preference. If he needs a boost of confidence, a potty chair is a better option. It may be difficult at first, especially when you need to lug it on the road.

But once your child becomes more comfortable, gradually introduce him to using the toilet chair. For safety, pair it with a potty seat. You can bring him along when shopping for one, too. Some have handles and built-in footrest for support during a bowel movement. Just make sure your potty seat won’t shake or tip over in case your little one decides to jump and celebrate his achievement!

Begin Potty Training Your Child

Keep this exciting step smooth-running with these helpful toilet training tips:

  • Dress appropriately. Have boys wear pants with elastic waistbands, while girls can wear skirts. Let them wear fewer clothes during warmer weather. Then use nappies only at night and for daytime sleeps.
  • Practice personal hygiene. Make washing hands a habit after toileting. Use colourful soaps or sing ABCs to make hand washing fun!
  • Recognise progress and success. Gentle praise or a small treat goes a long way. A sticker chart or star chart is an excellent tool for positive reinforcement. Let your child know every attempt (even failed ones) counts. Encouraging words like “let’s flush like mum tomorrow” will motivate him to keep trying.
  • Keep it casual. Treat potty training as an ordinary activity rather than a momentous event. Give a gentle reminder to your child when he begins giving clear clues of toilet time, like wriggling or grunting. Over time, let inner motivation guide your child to success instead of giving small rewards.
  • Expect toilet boo-boos. Toileting is a learning process, so give your child time to master it. Clean up accidents like it’s a natural thing. Don’t criticise or humiliate your little one for not succeeding either. The last thing we want is for our kids to withhold their urine or bowel movements because of fear.
  • Be patient. Don’t lose heart when potty training process takes a while. Postpone it when your child refuses it or if you’re going through stressful times.

Prepare for Nighttime Potty-Training Process

Nighttime control takes longer to learn compared with daytime control. So, make sure not to bid nappies full goodbye just yet. If your child calls you at night or wets his nappy only when he wakes up in the morning, these may be ready signs for his nighttime training. These tips might come in handy:

  • Let him wear pyjama pants that he can easily pull up and down.
  • Make it a daily routine to take him to the toilet before bedtime.
  • When trying to do away with night nappies, use a waterproof mattress cover.
  • Start your training by putting his potty chair in the bedroom.
  • Establish your toileting procedure at night. Ask him to wake you up for help.
  • Leave his door open and put nightlights in the hallway for easy access.

Seek Professional Help When Needed

If potty training your child is taking longer than expected, physical disabilities or issues may be hindering your progress. In this case, a check-up with a child development specialist can be helpful. An expert can identify more effective potty-training strategies to match your individual child’s needs. Toilet training educators and health care providers in Australia are also happy to support you, too! Don’t worry. Your child will get past potty training blues. And before you know it, your child will be big enough to help you around the house!