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When to Start Potty Training?

Cute toddler girl playing with his toys on potty
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Potty training can be long and tiring. It can be costly and time-consuming.

A common question asked by parents, especially first-time parents, is “When to start potty training?”.

Children start potty training at different ages. Typically the age range for daytime potty training is between 2 and 5 years old. However as an Occupational Therapist we tell parents to look for the signs that your child is ready instead of following a specific age range.

Toilet training is an important ‘occupation’ for the children we work with. We often talk to parents who have questions about wees and poos talk through strategies to help children become potty trained.

In this article, we have answered commonly asked questions about when to start potty training and some strategies to help your child start being potty trained.

The best age for potty training

Toddler boy sitting on a potty

Typically children start to show interest in potty training around 2 years old. By 2.5 years old, they may be able to tell their parents they need to go to the toilet. However, each child learns potty training at different times. Instead of starting potty training at a specific age, it is important to identify whether or not your child is ready for potty training.

In saying this, if your child is 4 years old and isn’t potty trained in the daytime, then it may become a priority. And you may want to discuss this with your local doctor or Occupational Therapist. The toilet training milestone is considered a developmental milestone for children.

Signs your child is ready for potty training

Little feet dangling off the potty

If your child is developing typically, your child will provide you with signs that they are ready for potty training. These signs include:

  • Your child can keep a nappy dry for up to 2 hours
  • Can sit for short periods of time
  • They are showing signs of discomfort when they have had an accident
  • Your child is interested in other people going to the toilet and maybe imitating other people’s bathroom habits.

When not to start potty training

Although your child might be developing some signs to begin potty training, there are definitely some times when NOT to start potty training. These include:

  • When there is a new child on the way
  • When you are moving houses or schools
  • When there are any major changes in house
  • When the parents’ stress levels are extremely high
  • If they have started some medication (that can negatively impact toilet training).

Potty training success requires routine and patience. The time not to start toilet training is when there are lots of changes happening around the child.

How to start potty training my child?

cute six months old baby boy sitting on the potty, potty training concept

If your child is showing signs that they are ready to potty train and there aren’t many major changes in your family’s life, it might be a good time to start to potty train your child.

Choose the words to use

Before you start potty training, it is important for your family to choose the words you want to use.

If parents use different words, it can be confusing for the child.

Use simple words like wee or poos. These words are easy to pronounce and understand by a child.

Also using positive re-enforcement like what a big boy is important.

Choose potty or toilet

If your child is ready for potty training, choose whether or not you are going to use a potty or the toilet. If you are going to use the toilet, you might need to get some additional things around the toilet, like a child potty seat insert and a footstool.

The benefit of using a small portable potty is that you can move it around the house. If your child does not like going to the toilet or if they have difficulty getting to the toilet in time, you can have them use the potty in a room that your child is often in. This can also act as a reminder for the child to go to the toilet and does wonders for most children.

Alternatively, getting your child to start using the toilet means they can be familiar with the routine of using the toilet, including getting on the toilet, flushing the toilet, and washing their hands afterward. For children who struggle with change, choosing the toilet option means they can get used to one version, rather than moving from potty to toilet.

Easy clothing

When your child is starting to learn potty training, it is important for them to wear easy to remove clothing. It becomes a deterrent if your child is able to recognize they need to go to the toilet but then unable to undress themselves.

So, if your child is learning potty training, dress them in easy clothing to pull down, rather than tight pants. Dresses may not be a good option either as your child needs to think about keeping the dress so they don’t accidentally wet it.

Pull-ups or disposable training pants

When your child is moving away from nappies, you can move to pull-ups or disposable training pants, especially if you are going out for the day.

Training pants act as a good medium because they are more absorbent than underwear, but also easy enough for children to pull up and down themselves.

Timed toileting

When your child is being toilet trained, their bodies are still learning how to recognize when to go to the toilet. Using a timed toileting schedule can help children empty their bladders on a regular basis. Without you being left with a dirty diaper to clean.

What should I avoid when potty training my toddler?

For many parents, potty training can be stressful. When you start training your new baby, try not to force the issue or make the child sit for long periods of time. Many parents blindly follow a schedule to try to help with bowel training for their little ones. This just won’t always help.

On the other hand, many children will just sit on the potty and not do anything. This is normal too. Not getting time-stressed or setting deadlines will help your child’s diaper dry in no time.

Another thing to avoid is thinking it is just you who can help your child’s toilet training. A child responds well to seeing an older sibling practice sitting on the toilet seat.

Toilet training at nighttime

If your child is 4 or 5 years old and they are still not toilet trained at night, do NOT stress. Toilet training at nighttime is a lot harder than daytime toilet training.

Keep up your consistent effort for a few weeks & they’ll get there in no time!

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