There is no “right age” to begin toilet training because each toddler is different. Here’s a guide to help you determine when to start and how to help your toddler succeed.
Potty training is possible only when your toddler is able to control their bottom and bladder muscles. These muscles mature between 18 and 36 months, so it’s generally recommended to start toilet training after they’re at least two years old.
Pick the Right Time
Having a potty visible and available in the bathroom for some months prior to the start of formal training can give your child the chance to get used to sitting on it and even using it occasionally. In addition to your toddler developing the necessary muscle control, other signs that may indicate they are ready to begin include:
- Their ability to sit down on a potty and get up easily
- Their ability to tell you when they have the urge to go
How to Get Started
To begin toilet training, choose a potty or a toilet seat insert. Some toddlers like the idea of their own potty, while others prefer to use the "grown-up" toilet with an insert seat.
Once you think your toddler is ready, explain that without nappies they will need to use the potty. Because many disposable nappies are designed to prevent any feeling of wetness, it may help to choose training-type nappies with special "wetness liners" that let your toddler feel a little bit of wetness. But be sure to watch for signs of nappy rash.
Switching from Nappies to Underwear
Here are some signs that your toddler may be ready to try underwear:
- They’re beginning to try to remove their pants and nappy without your help.
- They’re aware of their need to pee or poo (even if wearing a nappy) and they tell you.
- They’ve watched you or other family members use the toilet.
- They sit on and try to use the potty, e.g., before their bath in the evening.
Once you have some evidence that your toddler knows what will be required of them once they go without nappies, you can consider taking the next step to underwear. You can make this a special occasion by explaining that they’re now going to wear "big kid" underwear and by asking them to help pick out a few pairs.
Getting Into a Routine
You will need to give your toddler regular reminders that they might like to use the potty. Don't sit them on the potty unless they say yes; otherwise they won't make the connection for themselves. Praise their efforts and successes, and, if accidents happen, gently remind them that this is what the potty is for, change them, and make no fuss. Reacting negatively may make your toddler resentful and less inclined to try again.
Potty Training While Traveling
It's a challenge to toilet train when on the road, but it's possible. Ask your toddler to visit the potty just before leaving home, and be sure to scope out bathroom locations as soon as you get to wherever you're going. Try to maintain good hygiene habits even while on the road by packing a gentle cleanser, like Johnson’s® baby bath milk + rice . For extra long trips, with no foreseeable bathrooms, you may want to consider using a nappy to avoid accidents.
Finally, it is worth remembering that every toddler develops at a different rate, and that patience is key. If you try not to rush this stage and take toilet training at their pace, you will also end up teaching your toddler that learning new skills is fun and empowering, and that's a great life lesson.
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