The Basics of Potty Training

Every mother looks forward to the day when she will be free of diapers, but the thought of taking on potty training can scare even the bravest mother into grabbing another box of Pampers instead. Teaching your toddler to use the potty doesn’t have to be a scary proposition; just be sure your little one is ready, and have the right tools at your disposal.

Is Your Toddler Ready?

No matter how ready you are to ditch the diapers, potty training will only frustrate you both if your child isn’t ready to learn. These are some of the signs your toddler is ready:

  • Tells you when her diaper needs changing and shows discomfort with being wet
  • Stays dry for a few hours at a time during the day, wakes up from naps dry
  • Able to pull her pants up and down
  • Shows interest in using the potty, and understands what it is for
  • Can recognize the need to go

Choosing a Potty

Ready to train? Then it’s time to choose a potty. There are two potty options: small potty chairs that sit on the floor, and potty seats that fit over the toilet. Most experts recommend the potty chair to start. Toddlers learning to use the potty will be more comfortable if their feet can touch the floor, especially for bowel movements.

Potties offer many different features. Look for one with an easily removable container for waste that is also easy to clean. If you are training a boy, look for a large enough guard to keep urine from going over the seat and onto the floor. Some potties have a seat that comes off and can be used on the toilet. Others convert to step stools for hand washing. If possible, narrow down your choices and then let your child have a say in the final pick to help get her excited about using it.

The Final Touches

Before you sit your big kid down on the potty for the first time, there are a few more things you will need. Pick up some big kid underwear (again, you’ll find your little one more willing and excited if he can choose), some flushable wipes, and some potty-time entertainment such as new books. The day before you are ready to start, talk to your toddler about it, and explain what is going to happen and what your expectations are.

There are a number of different schools of thought on how to get a toddler to use the potty. Some parents use rewards such as small treats or a sticker chart. Others use heaps of praise. What all successful parents have in common are persistence, patience, and consistency.

It’s Potty Time!

When you are armed and ready, it’s time to sit your little one down on the potty. Don’t expect results right away. Give him a few minutes, and if there is nothing, try again soon. Set a short interval between attempts, fifteen to twenty minutes. If you are consistent and stick to the plan, it won’t be long before you are celebrating your first success! When he has an accident, express mild disappointment and move on. Remember that toddlers learn as much from accidents as they do from successes.

Potty training doesn’t happen overnight, and every child is a little different in how quickly they will catch on. Some kids will get it in a few days, and others may take a week or more. Don’t give up! Soon, your diaper days will be only a memory.

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