Hi friends! It’s Tamara here! Something you may not know about me is that before I became a Mother, I was a Nanny!
In my 12 years in the Childcare Profession I cared for children varying in age from 0-9 years, with the majority of my charges were between the ages of 0-4 years old. So it goes without saying that I have helped to potty train my fair share of young children. I am here today to share my best Potty Training Tips with you!
Depending on your relationship with diapering your little one, you may be eagering looking forward to potty training it or absolutely dreading it. Or, perhaps, you fall somewhere in the middle!
The good news is that potty training doesn’t have to be a negative experience. If you follow my potty training tips I think you will find that it will go much smoother than you may have been anticipating.
Potty Training Tip #1: Wait until your child is ready. I mean, REALLY ready.
My experience is that if we push potty training too hard, too soon, we only end up pushing the child away from the potty, rather than towards it. Waiting for signs of real readiness is key.
Some children will be showing signs of readiness by 18 months, others will be closer to 3 years. Both ages are totally normal and ok! Remember, it’s not a race and there is no trophy for having the youngest child to potty train in playgroup.
So what are these signs of potty training readiness?
- Your child can communicate (whether by words or sign) when they need to, or have just, peed or pooped.
- They dislike being in a soiled diaper. They may indicate this discomfort pulling at the diaper, or even going so far as to take dirty diapers off themselves (uh oh!)
- When they pee, they typically do it all at once. You will know that they are doing this if their diapers go from being dry for an hour or more, to suddenly being completely saturated. You may even be experiencing a lot of diaper leaking right now due to this flooding.
- They are showing interest in the potty habits of other family members. Perhaps wanting to watch older siblings use the toilet, or even talk a lot about the family cat or dog’s pottying.
- They have a fairly regular bowel movement schedule, with well formed and predictable BMs. (If your child is going through a patch of digestive issues, now is NOT the time to attempt potty training!)
Potty Training Tip #2. Keep it positive and play it cool!
One of my biggest potty training tips is that in the very early days using the potty should be 100% optional! 1-3x a day (perhaps while you are using the toilet yourself) invite your child to sit on their potty. If they say no, respond with “ok!” and move on.
Do not push it. The child needs to feel that they are in control of this endeavour. Too much insistence from well meaning caregivers (even insistence that is positive and enthusiastic in nature) can turn a child off. Play it cool!
If over the course of a week, your child absolutely refuses to even sit on the potty, they are likely not quite ready to be potty trained. That’s ok! Try again in a couple of weeks.
Potty Training Tip #3: Praise Praise Praise!
Once you get to the point where your child will sit on the potty now and then, try having them sit on the potty with their diaper off. You can attempt this before baths, or during diaper changes. Every time they so much as sit on the potty, you need to dish out the praise like it’s candy at a parade. Be over the top with it!
Potty Training Tip #4: Get your timing right.
Now that your little one isn’t afraid of the potty and will even actually sit on it with a bare bottom, you might be wondering how to go from there to them actually doing their business.
The secret is timing.
Most children need to pee about 45 minutes after consuming lots of fluid. Keep this in mind when you notice your child drinking fluids, and then encourage them to sit on the potty within that 45 minute time frame.
Having them try immediately after waking from a nap, or after strenuous play are also key times.
Potty Training Tip #5: Every hour, on the hour.
After your child has peed on the potty a few times using the clever timing method above, and after you have a well established positive relationship with the potty, I suggest taking it a step further and committing to having your child sit on the potty every hour, on the hour.
Set a timer on your phone, if you must.
A word of warning: this stage can be tricky. Until now, the potty has been an optional thing, with tons of excitement and positive reinforcement every time the child so much as sits on it.
Switching from that to a more mandatory You-Must-Sit-On-The-Potty-Every-Hour approach can be a tough transition for some kids. If you find that your little one really pushes back once they are required to sit every hour, consider offering some incentives.
Potty Training Tip #7: Incentivize.
Look. Nobody works for free. I don’t show up to work for free, and your child isn’t likely to continue sitting on that potty for free either. I see nothing wrong with a little bribery.
Some parents use stickers, some use a sort of ‘chart’ in which children accumulate ‘points’ and then get a bigger reward at the end of a week, others use small toys, or small candies like M&Ms- find what motivates your child and go with that.
Whatever you choose, keep in mind that you will likely be rewarding your child with these ‘incentives’ 6-10x a day, so it needs to be sustainable.
Potty Training Tip #8: Really Commit.
At some point, you are going to need to hunker down and commit. Take a week where you have very little obligations outside of the home, and make day-time potty training the priority.
Some people like let their children go bottomless in this time (be prepared to clean up some puddles!)
Other people like to put their children into ‘big kid’ underwear.
And some people like to use training pants.
(Pssst! Did you know that Lil Helper is working on releasing training pants?!)
Whatever you choose, be aware that you’re going to soak through a lot of outfits. And you’re going to be cleaning up some messes. If you don’t already have one of our large wet bags, now is the time to pick one up!
If you have any precious wool rugs, you may want to roll them up and put them away this week. You may also want to cover the sofa in an old duvet that you don’t care much about.
If you must leave the house in this week, make certain that your child goes to the potty just before you leave. Plan out the nearest potty at your destination. Keep with the ‘every hour’ routine. In addition, you may even consider keeping a portable plastic potty in your car for those times when a bathroom can’t be found. Or for the times when the public bathrooms are too scary or dirty.
Be mindful of your child’s fluid consumption while you are out, keeping in mind the 45 minute rule. Moreover, make certain to have a minimum of 2 spare, clean outfits on you at all times.
Potty Training Tip #9: Be realistic.
If you know you are going somewhere without quick access to a clean, safe bathroom put a diaper on your child. It is ok to press ‘pause’ on potty training for that morning. You can always pick up from where you left off later on that day.
Bonus Potty Training Tip! Beware of Toilet-Phobia
A small number of children will experience actual Toilet-Phobia which makes them so extremely fearful of toilets that they will refuse them altogether.
This can be a serious issue and can lead to health issues like constipation and even incontinence. If your child is demonstrating extreme fear or anxiety surrounding potty training, please speak with your family doctor.
How are you feeling about potty training your little one?
Do you have any tried, tested, and true potty training tips?