How to prepare your child for potty training

“Mummy, I need to go!”

Children learn to tell when they need to pee and poo at different ages – often, it depends on whether they are ready, physically and emotionally. This means that potty training can happen anytime from 18 months to 3 years. Generally, children show signs that they are ready around the age of 2 to 2½ years old. If your child shows some or most of the following signs, it could well indicate he or she is ready for potty training:

  • Asks questions about the toilet or potty
  • Is uncomfortable with dirty diapers and wants them changed
  • Shows a need “to go” through facial expressions, posture and/or speech
  • Diapers stay dry for at least two hours at a time. This means that your child
    can store pee in his or her bladder
  • Can follow simple instructions
  • Has regular bowel movements

A potty may be less intimidating than a toilet, and it is also mobile. If you decide to use the toilet, however, some adaptations may be required. For example, you may need an inner seat that fits securely inside the existing toilet seat and a stool/step for junior to get up the toilet, for added security.

You may want to distract your child with a book or toy. This will encourage junior to sit still on the potty for at least a few minutes at a time. At this stage, dress them in easy-to-remove clothes, such as training underwear. Avoid one-piece suits, dungarees, tights and clothes with zips or buttons.

Getting started

Potty training can take weeks, even months, so patience is important. Keep the following in mind:

  • Choose a time when there are no distractions or disruptions to your child’s routine. Avoid potty training if your child is starting nursery, or if you’re moving or expecting a new baby.
  • Establish a daily routine and introduce potty training as a new activity.
  • If you have a caregiver looking after your child, be sure she knows what to do so there is consistency in the potty training routine.

The secret to successful potty training is timing, a positive attitude and patience. It is not a race – your child will get there eventually with lots of encouragement and love!

4 Handy Tips for Successful Potty Training

  1. Introduce the idea of potty training from young. You can have a potty in the bathroom and perhaps get your child to sit on it with diapers. You can also change his or her diaper in the bathroom and throw the dirty diapers into the potty, “flush” it and wash his or her hands (and yours too!).
  2. Toddlers learn best from watching. You may want to show junior how it’s done when you use the toilet. If this makes you uncomfortable, you may demonstrate using toys.
  3. Let your child sit on the potty without diapers once he or she shows signs of readiness. In the beginning, at intervals of 40–60 minutes, ask your child if he or she needs to pee. If the answer is yes, put him or her on the potty for a couple of minutes. If there is no pee, allow junior to get up. Praise your child for trying.
  4. If an accident happens before your child reaches the potty, simply mop up and wait for the next time. Remember not to fuss or get angry as this may make your child anxious and worried. Remind your child gently. Use star charts or reward them for a good attempt or successful effort.