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MAIN Arrow to Home Life Home Life Arrow to Parenting Advice Parenting

Saying Goodbye to Diapers
Parent Tested Potty Training Tips

Like learning to walk and talk, potty training is a major childhood developmental milestone for parents and babies. Unlike the other steps, toilet training can be a source of stress for everyone concerned.


I'm potty trained!
I'm a big kid now!

 

When Do Other Parents Start Potty Training?
There is no set age for starting to replace diapers with big kid underwear. Like most tasks, it depends on when baby is ready.

Some parents may get an early start to accommodate a child care setting while others wait a bit to make sure that they don't force the issue. One online source polled parents and found out that 32% began potty training when their kids were 18 months old and another 38% waited until baby turned two. At 2 1/2 another 26% faced the issue and only about 5% waited until age 3.

What's The Big Deal?

Why is the subject of toilet training so nerve wracking? Like most new parent issues, there are too many people with conflicting advice... and everyone warns of the emotional damage of getting it wrong ... damage to fragile self esteem, setting up control issues in your relationship with your child, making you feel like a failure as a parent and your baby feeling like a failure in general. Oh, my!

The reality is that potty training can be a fun an rewarding experience for the whole family. The less worried and nervous the parents are, the more baby can learn to control the physical demands that potty training brings. Accept that you can't wave a magic wand and have your baby use the potty just as you couldn't control when sitting, walking and talking started. Baby will be glad to learn to use the potty as soon as it is possible. Going potty is just as much fun as learning to walk up and down stairs or hold a crayon to color... and just as dependent on your baby's unique development schedule.

Regular Potty Habits

Some babies, just like some adults, will have a set time of the day when they urinate or have a bowel movement. But, just as many adults are not on any set schedule, many toddlers will go only when they are ready. The time of day or nap schedule may not be a trigger for a visit to the potty for these children.

When baby starts to walk, the wonderful regular meal schedule that worked so well for your infant goes out the window. Your little independent toddler is so busy exploring the world from the new heights just discovered — and practicing those difficult walking skills — that there is no time to sit down and eat a regular meal. Finger foods get munched on throughout the day as the wanderer goes about the task of mapping the world of your home. There are new toys to discover and so many things to learn about... eating meals, napping and going to the potty are just parental interruptions in a busy life. By three or four, the world is beginning to make sense and the urgency of finding out what everything does calms down a bit. It's much easier to get back to routines and make the potty visit part of the morning and evening ritual.

Morning Schedules and Daytime Accidents

Most babies will begin to stay dry at night on their own. The soaking diaper you'll find them in is the result of an early morning urination. They may even wait until fully awake before wetting. If you find that your baby's diaper is dry in the morning, starting with that natural development may be the best way to get the potty routine going.

Every morning make a quick trip to the potty and wait until the magic happens. You can provide happy entertainment to pass the time by singing going to the potty songs and telling going to the potty stories. If nothing happens after a minute or so, leave the potty with a cheerful explanation of what you were doing. After at least several days, your little one should begin to get the general idea and may even ask to go potty instead of wetting a diaper. Success!

That AM triumph won't necessarily translate into a toilet trained child. Busy kids have a difficult time knowing when the urge to go will hit. If it happens when deeply engrossed in a favorite movie, TV show or plaything, stopping to go and visit the potty is not even a thought. After years of diapers, it's just easier to keep on playing and let the pee-pee flow right where you are. Sure your pants will get wet, but that's nothing new. Parent's have to be patiently persistent. When an accident happens, just make a delayed visit to the potty, not expecting any action but just to reinforce the training, then chance the wet pants for dry ones. Try taking a fun potty break every couple of hours just for practice. You'll probably head off most accidents that way. Be proud and praise the successes and don't make a big deal about the mishaps. It may take days, weeks or even years — which may seem like decades to impatient parents — for the accidents to stop, but eventually they will.

Avoid Well Meaning Advice

Don't listen to anyone who says your child should or should not be out of diapers unless it's your pediatrician. Making your baby meet the expectations of others is not healthy for the baby or for your relationship with your child. Every toddler is different and proceeds on a specific time table just right for that little person. Other babies may be doing things at a different pace, but who cares! They are not as wonderful, talented or artistic as your own precious child, who will be ready to stop the accidents as soon as the time is right. You can't rush the process without making it harder for everyone.

When baby goes potty, it is a remarkable achievement and should be given the accolades it deserves. Hand clapping and dancing have been known to occur as excited parents watch their budding genius in action. Learning to "go potty" is one of the biggest jobs your baby has ever faced and success should be a cause for celebration every time it happens.

 

Here are some additional sites that provide more information on potty training:

13 Toilet-Training Tips to Know Before You Start

Toilet Training Tips: How and When to Toilet Train Your Child

 

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