I swear time gets rolling faster and faster! I blinked, and all of the sudden my ‘baby’ has undies in his drawer and his own potty in the bathroom. Potty training hasn’t necessarily happened in full-force around here, but it’s just around the corner and I am certainly weirded out by the speed of life right now. In my beginnings of potty training, I’ve read and researched quite a bit. Here is some of what I’ve learned so far!
When to begin
I always hated when I was told to let my child take the lead or when I heard the all-too-common, “you’ll know when they’re ready”. Why can’t it all be spelled out for me exactly? I wish there was a precise chart with very specific directions that came with each child! This phrase was said to me by pediatricians, friends, and family during many transitional phases: when to stop breastfeeding, when to introduce certain solid foods, when to transition to a big-kid bed, and now, yet again, when to start potty training. The good news is everybody was right. As time goes on, and the more I experimented, I truly did come to realize that my kid would take the lead and let me know, in one way or another, when they were ready for certain changes to take place. In fact, when asked for advice, I often find myself telling friends or family members that very thing, “you’ll know when they’re ready!” So the easy answer to the when of potty training is to pay attention to cues and signs given and to let the child take the lead. Some children are ready as early as eighteen months, where others take their time and aren’t ready until well after they’re three. Studies have shown that boys take a little bit longer to start than girls. This is often because boys typically have a higher activity level and aren’t as interested in taking breaks to go potty. BabyCenter has broken down a toddler’s readiness into three categories: physically ready, behaviorally ready, and cognitively ready. Check out their potty training readiness checklist to get some good insight for when toddlers are ready for this new step!
Not too many things are needed when it comes to potty training accessories, but there are definitely a few helpful items to have on hand. Underwear is a good place to start; picking fun colored or character themed undies is the easiest way to get kiddos excited about this change. Pull-ups are good to have too, especially for bedtime! Depending on parents’ preference and, of course, the child’s preference, there are a few different options for potty use. A separate, small potty is perfect for kids who are a little more timid to the big toilet or someone who needs a little more excitement involved. Or there’s the option of using a separate training seat to put on top of the toilet seat. This is conducive to a smooth transition to the big toilet, yet still personalized to a small child to ease any fears. Also, there’s always the choice to not use any special equipment, and just have the child sit on the big toilet to begin with! This is especially nice because there isn’t a need for transition later and it makes it easy to help kids in public or at a friend’s house.
The things I would suggest are some type of reward or prize for different accomplishments. This may start out as a treat or small toy every time the child uses the potty without an accident and become more and more spread out until it’s an entire day with no accidents. Later, you can transition to a reward when dry at night, or dry for an entire week. Different motivators can have a marvelous effect on kids and truly help the potty training process along!