Going from diapers to “big kid underwear” is one of the most important milestones for a child and the timing really depends on the individual development (both mentally and physically) of the kid. According to experts, a child could start potty training from around 18 months, some might need a bit longer, up to three years of age until they are developmentally ready. However, each child is different in terms of when they are physically and emotionally ready for potty training. Take my youngest daughter for instance, she was insisting to change her own diaper at the age of 15 months, and we’re not even using the pull-ups yet! Well, I guess I mistook her sense of independence as physical readiness to start potty training. She ended up sticking with the diapers until she was almost 4, yes, it was a long journey for all of us!
Lookout for the signs
When your baby reaches the above age range, I am sure you will see signs that they could be ready for potty training. They might be showing an interest in the potty, showing discomfort when they have a wet or soiled diaper, or wanting to wear underwear just like their older sibling. However, no matter how attractive the idea of not having to lug around the changing pads and extra diapers, if your child is resistant or not quite ready, don't force it and maybe try again in a few months.
Once your child is ready, potty training can start in earnest! Here are some tips for potty training success:
Get the kid involved
Let them be involved with the whole process, from choosing their own little potty to shopping for their first pairs of underwear. Get them excited about taking this big step and own up to it!
There are suggestions for putting your baby on the potty at various times of the day, after meals, or before bedtime. I guess that really depends on the internal clock of the child. However, the key is to be consistent so that it becomes routine for them, even just for a couple of minutes.
Setbacks are normal
There is always a learning curve for every new skill, potty training is the same. Your baby might have doubts or a lack of confidence after a couple of little accidents. The last thing you want is the stress out your little one, so it is helpful to understand what the reasons for the setback could be.
Be prepared to grab your kid and run for the potty at any waking moment! This is where your hyper-observant parent superpower comes in handy. Our first daughter used to show signs of bowel movement whenever she was relaxed, usually while sitting in her bouncer. So, whenever I saw that spaced-out look on her face I would be ready. And then when her face started to turn red, the sign of a “poopoo push”, I would pick her up and sprint to the potty in record time! With practice and consistency, hopefully, they will learn to associate the signs with the need to go to the bathroom.
Efficiency is key
Once your child has mastered their potty skills during the day, it is time to graduate to the last stage of the journey: night training! This next step may take additional time and patience for both parents and child. Unfortunately, there is no short cut and accidents are bound to happen. So, the most useful tip for this part is to speed up the sheet-changing process in the middle of the night to the minimum. Always put 2 layers of sheets and mattress protection: start with a mattress protector, then a sheet, another mattress protector, and another sheet on the top. This way when accidents do happen, you only need to strip away the first sheet and protector, change your baby out of the wet clothes, and everyone can go back to bed! See, no big deal! When your child sees that you are handling the accident with ease and calm, along with your encouragement, they will succeed at being potty trained at night with less stress.
With lots of love, consistency, patience, and positivity, your child can definitely succeed in the potty training challenge. While occasional accidents can be discouraging, your kid's sense of accomplishment and independence will make the effort worthwhile. And, yay, you can finally say goodbye to the bulky diaper bag!