There are certain milestones that moms of infants and toddlers live for, and potty-training is at the top of the list! Saving lots of money on diapers and being freed from the huge bag with changing essentials is a big plus. It also builds confidence for your little one, affirming for them that they are, in fact, a “big kid!” To make the process as smooth and successful as possible, consider these tips from veteran moms and experts.
1. Assess readiness.
Many children are near age 2 before they have the physiological, cognitive, and motor skills readiness needed to be potty trained—and it really takes all three. Just because your child is able to physically control her need to eliminate doesn’t mean she has the self-control to wait until she reaches the potty, or the motor skills to handle her clothing. Whatever her age, look for signs that your child might be ready, like making certain facial expressions when wetting a diaper, squatting when wetting the diaper or having a bowel movement, or hiding when having a bowel movement.
2. Develop a plan.
Our favorite is Potty Training Boot Camp where you tackle the project with 100% focus for a few days to get off to a good start. Some moms prefer a more gradual, child-directed approach that hinges on waiting for the child to initiate and praising those efforts.
3. Be consistent.
We can’t stress this enough. Whatever your plan, maintain consistency day-in and day-out, so that your child understands the rules and expectations. Make sure other caregivers like daycare providers and grandparents are committed to the plan as well.
4. Praise successes!
Nothing reinforces good behavior like praise. Aside from verbal praise, you might even incorporate a small reward, like a sticker, an M&M, or a Skittle for successful trips to the potty.
5. Don’t compare.
Some kids potty train differently or on a different time table than their friends or siblings. Don’t worry if one child doesn’t follow the exact same script that worked with another child. There are multiple ways to accomplish the goal.
6. Rethink Pull-Ups.
While disposable, pull-on training pants may be a great alternative when out and about with a toddler-in-training, some moms believe they can actually hinder the process of full potty training. Why? Because unlike traditional cotton training pants which are clammy and uncomfortable when wet, disposable training pants protect the child from the discomfort of wetting his pants, removing a key incentive to run to the potty instead. One strategy is to use the cotton underpants at home, and save the more absorbent, diaper-like trainers for outings where an accident would be harder to manage.
7. Try potty books.
If your child is the type to resist sitting still long enough to use the potty, try keeping a few picture books in the bathroom (or wherever you’ve stationed the potty) to help her be content on her little throne long enough for nature to take its course.
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.