Potty training can be stressful for child and parent, especially with firstborns. Keeping a few simple ideas in mind while you get through this learning curve together can make the whole process much quicker and easier for everyone.

How to Start Potty Training

The first part of starting is knowing when its time. There is no hard and fast rule; it is different for each child. Besides the child’s own readiness, upcoming stresses like the birth of a sibling or a long trip or move are times when it is better to avoid teaching a child about using the toilet.

Most children are ready somewhere after the age of two. Starting too early is one of the biggest mistakes parents can make. A child has to reach a certain level of development in order to master this important skill.

He or she has to understand their own body’s signals, have some basic communication skills, and be able to pull down their pants and get them up again. A certain amount of balance is also needed for sitting on, and getting off, of the toilet seat.

Most children are ready between ages of eighteen months and two years, but some can take quite a bit longer. Be patient. Watch for changes in your child’s behavior, like curiosity about the toilet and complaints about wet diapers. Letting your child watch you use the toilet is one good way of getting their attention onto the subject, once they seem old enough.

Taking the Next Step

Once you feel your child is ready and able, take the next step of trying them out on a toilet. Training toilets are great, because you can move the lesson wherever the child likes to play or spend time. Avoid too much explaining which could lead to “No!” from the child.

Instead, have the training toilet handy and remove the child’s diaper. Eat, drink and play together for a couple of hours, setting the child onto the toilet every fifteen minutes or so. Adding an activity, like reading a book (‘Everybody Poops’ is a good choice), makes it easier for the child to stay on the toilet for a few minutes.

Do not be upset if nothing happens. Give praise or a treat for trying, even when there is no result. When there is something left in the potty, make a big deal out of it. Share the good news with family members and caregivers, unless it makes the child uncomfortable.

Do this lesson twice a day for three days. Then it will be time to move on to more advanced potty training.

Step Three in Potty Training

Once your child has mastered the idea of sitting on a toilet, have a low stress day at home without the use of diapers. Let the child go naked, or just wearing a top, so it will be easier using the toilet.

Now that the child has some sense of toilets and what they are for, just not having a diaper on might get them thinking, “Where do I put it?” Keep an eye on your child and help them remember the answer to this question.

Flushing the toilet together when there is something to flush can be a great way of adding a simple reward to the event. Have the child pull the leaver, or help them do it, and watch the nasty stuff go down the drain. It might seem gross, but sometimes a visual image can make a meaningful impression, and the whoosh of the toilet can be exciting for them.

If your child is in daycare, or stays with a baby sitter, be sure to let those caregivers know what is going on. Going into the bathroom at the daycare facility, and using it with the child, can make him or her much more comfortable about using a toilet away from home.

Beyond the Basics of Potty Training

Once ‘how to start potty training’ is off of your lesson plan, you can finish up the course with your child by moving on to the more difficult task of waking up in the night and using the toilet. The whole job of potty training will be easier if you separate these two lessons.

Once the child has mastered daytime use of the toilet, take the diapers off overnight. Before you do, reduce the child’s intake of food and drink for at least an hour before bedtime. Make sure the bathroom or potty is easy to find in the dark and that the child understands what to do.

Reward overnight successes, but be gentle if there are accidents. Being positive and encouraging are the best ways of building the child’s emotional and physical capacity to wake up and use the toilet. If the problem of bed wetting persists for more than a few months, talk to a doctor and rule out any possible physical causes.

We hope to have made things a bit easier this way for those who have been asking themselves How To Start Potty Training.