As a mother of two I can tell you no two children are alike. All children develop at their own rate and certain factors, such as premature birth can affect that. Likewise, some babies are ready to begin potty training sooner than their peers. While the average age to initiate potty training is typically 2.5 years, there is a wide range of what is normal (http://kidshealth.org/). You may be surprised to learn how early some toddlers are ready to move out of diapers. While my daughter wasn’t ready until after the age of two, our son was showing signs of readiness as early as 18 months of age.
Potty training can be a tricky process. You don’t want to push a child into it or they may become apprehensive about it which will further delay the process (speaking from experience). It is important that they are both physically and mentally ready. An equally important factor is having patience as you both work through this event. While your toddler may appear to be ready for potty training it may take a few months before they are completely out of diapers. Your baby can tell you when they are ready in their own way so follow these cues that indicate it’s time to bring out the potty chair:
- Removing their diaper
- Pulls their pants down on their own
- Showing interest in the toilet
- Able to understand direction and sit still for a few minutes
- Displays actions that let you know they are aware when they are wet or dirty
Sometimes it’s easy to tell when your child has a wet or dirty diaper. They may cry, pull at their diaper, or even take it off if they don’t like the feeling of being in a diaper that is wet (and hope it’s not a dirty one)! One way to tell if they are developmentally ready to start is if they have dry periods during the day when they aren’t wet for a couple of hours.
A great way to encourage your child to start toilet training is by putting them in cloth training pants rather than disposables because they can feel when they’re wet. Many babies don’t like the feeling and are therefore more willing to toilet-train.
If you believe they are ready for the potty, invest in a potty chair and training underwear and see how it goes. As the wise old saying goes ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try try again’ but give it a little time. If they show an immediate dislike to it i.e. screaming or crying when sitting on the potty chair simply wait a few months to try again. The last thing you want to do is make it stressful on them or have them afraid to go on the potty. A few pointers to keep in mind when it comes to toilet training toddlers from an experienced mother:
- It will not happen overnight, so just because they go every time during the day you may still want to keep training pants on at bedtime.
- Some children may regress in training if something major is going on in their lives like moving to a new place, or their baby brother arrives sooner than expected!
- There may still be a few accidents once they’ve completed training so be prepared (i.e., take along extra clothes – at least two outfits). Children who are distracted, either playing or watching a movie, may not recognize when they need to go or wait too late.
- Encourage frequent bathroom breaks to avoid accidents especially when going out and about. Avoid diuretics such as caffeine.
Remember that it has to be on their time. While positive encouragement is good, do not try to force them into it especially for reasons as in the arrival of a new sibling. Many parents dread the thought of having two children in diapers at the same time, although such an event can make it even worse as your child needs time to adjust to the change so don’t rush it.
There is no particular ‘right age’ to start potty training your toddler. Some babies are well trained before they even reach their first birthday, while others just aren’t ready until close to their third. Have faith that your little one will not start school in diapers and in time you will both manage to get through it.