Toilet training is an important milestone for both you and your child. It’s a sign that your toddler is growing up and becoming more independent, as well as a way to reclaim some of your freedom as an adult – the last frontier in your escape from nappy-changing.
There’s no easy guide to toilet training as every child is unique and will set their own pace. However, there are some general rules you can follow to ensure the toilet training process goes as smoothly as possible. The best way to prepare yourself is to do plenty of research on toilet training and learn about all the training techniques and products you can use.
Above all else, remember to be patient and encouraging at all times. Comfort your child when they have accidents and celebrate their toilet training successes with lots of verbal praise and small rewards. Pretty soon, they’ll have all the bathroom confidence they need to progress all the way to total toileting independence.
When to start toilet training
While there’s no specific age at which all children should be toilet trained, most kids begin to develop the readiness to do so sometime between 18 months and their third birthday. Try not to worry if your child seems to be lagging behind their peers, as some kids simply take a little longer than others before they’re ready to be toilet trained. For a lot of parents, the toilet training process isn’t fully complete until their kids have mastered the art of wiping their own bottoms and getting themselves properly clean – something that can often take until after the age of five!
It’s important to keep in mind that the more ready your child is to begin toilet training, the easier (and faster!) the process will be. Rushing them into it will only make the toilet training experience more drawn out and less likely to succeed, as kids need to develop a few basic physical skills and emotional signs of readiness first (as detailed below).
Once you begin to notice several of the signs of readiness in your child, it’s probably time to start thinking about toilet training. Make sure you choose a time to start that fits in with your family’s life and your child’s routine – if you’re about to experience any disruptions, such as moving house or one parent being away for a period of time, consider delaying the toilet training until a more suitable time.
Signs of Readiness
The best time to start toilet training is when your child begins to show signs of being ready. If you start before this, the process is not as likely to be successful and you might have to try a few times before they are comfortable on the toilet and know what to do.
Here are some signs to look out for:
- Your child is becoming more independent in general and can pull their pants up and down by themselves.
- Your child has a dry nappy for longer periods of time (2-3 hours is a good indication that they are developing bladder control and it might be time to start toilet training.)
- Your child has regular, well-formed bowel movements.
- Your child starts talking about poo and wee and shows an interest in the toilet. They may even want to watch other family members use the toilet.
- Your child complains that their nappy is uncomfortable when it’s wet or removes it themselves after they’ve done a wee.
- Your child asks to wear underpants or “big kid pants”.
- Your child can recognise when they need to go and will either tell you they need to use the toilet or go off somewhere to poo.
- Your child is capable of following simple instructions and takes pride in their accomplishments.
Toilet Training Tips
- Never rush your child into toilet training. It’s better to wait until they begin showing signs of being interested. If you start before they’re ready, the toilet training process is likely to end up taking longer.
- Make a ceremony out of going on a shopping trip to buy new underwear, a potty, training seat and whatever other equipment you have decided to use to start toilet training. Let your child choose a few items as getting them involved will help them to feel more a part of the toilet training process.
- Asking kids if they want to use the toilet and if they want to wear underpants instead of a nappy will help them to see toilet training as special thing rather than a chore. It will help speed up the process considerably if you’ve built up a little enthusiasm beforehand.
- Be consistent: ask your child regularly if they need to use the toilet before bath-time, before bed, first thing in the morning, after naps, etc. During the first few days, put them on the potty or toilet frequently and wait 5-10 minutes. Eventually they will start telling you when they need to go.
- Always be encouraging and never get angry, no matter how many accidents they have. Patience is essential! If your child has an accident, respond calmly and say something like, “That’s okay, we’ll get it right next time.”
- Have a cleaning kit on hand so you can deal with accidents quickly and with minimum fuss. Keep a bucket or basket with paper towel, a sponge, and a spray bottle containing water and detergent.
- Use reward charts and stickers to encourage your child to use the toilet. You might like to keep one big prize, such as a new toy car or a doll house, somewhere where they can see it and tell your child that they can have the big prize when they do a poo in the toilet.
- Always carry a spare change of clothing for your child when you go out. Choose pants that are easy to remove so that he or she can undo them without your help and start to take charge of their own toilet needs. Avoid belts, long dresses, overalls or tight clothing.
- Books are an excellent distraction for keeping kids on the potty. Reading to your child while they’re on the potty can help them relax and stay seated long enough for the action to take place.
- You’re going to be doing a lot of washing, so if you can start toilet training during the summer, your dryer won’t be in constant use and your wet things will dry faster.
- Establish good hygiene from the outset – show your child how to wash their hands properly and remind them to do so after every time they use the toilet or potty.
- If you realise that your child is just not getting the hang of things, they might not be ready to start toilet training. Don’t be afraid to postpone and try again in a few months when they’re older.
Making the transition from nappies to self-wiping is easier with Kleenex Cottonelle Flushable Moist Wipes. The pre-moistened wipes help little hands clean their bottoms better. Gentle and soft, they’re comforting for bottoms accustomed to baby wipes, yet they’re safe to flush. Kids’ wipes are easy for little fingers to access, and they only dispense one at a time, so you save on toilet paper. They’re also great for potty-cleaning too – simply wipe and flush.