When should you start potty training? How do you know if your child is ready and can stop using diapers? And, tips to buying the first potty.Diapers are part and parcel of a baby’s life and are extremely convenient in the first couple of years – but they can very quickly become a pain for parents as they try to get their toddler to kick the diaper habit. As a mother of a recently turned three year old, I truly empathise with all mums who are at this life stage. I am proud to share that I just completed 1 year without using any diapers for my little girl! While it was crazy difficult, within a week my precious princess was potty trained. Here’s how I got my child to stop using diapers.
What is the right age to stop using diapers?Before I get into how I managed to ditch the diapers in one week, the first question we should address is “What is the right age to stop using diapers?”
I am sure that like me, you too must have asked around and have been at the receiving end of a confusing medley of answers.
While some believe that it is essential to start early, say just after the baby can sit or maybe even before that depending on the society in which the baby is growing. Others feel that it should not be done until the baby can understand and is ready for the change.
Generally speaking in Singapore, most mums start potty training around 2 years of age. That is also around when I started.
Is your baby ready for potty training?Now while I started at 2, your child might not be ready to stop using diapers, even at age 2. Instead of sticking to a number, it is more important to check if your child is showing signs of being ready for the potty.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Can your child understand and follow simple directions?
- Does your child tell you and/or complain when they are wet or dirty?
- Have they expressed curiosity and interest in using the toilet and wearing underwear?
- Can your child pull their pants up and down with little or no help?
- Does your child stay dry for at least 3 to 4 hours throughout the day?
Yes, you read right!
Don’t attempt to potty train your child until you have spoken to your kid. From my experience trying to force your 2-year-old to do something is going to absolutely back fire and their rebellious nature will make it 100x more challenging to potty train.
One trick is to keep educating your child about the need to use the toilet for all their elimination needs and make it sound as if it were a grown up thing to do. In our home, we started reading our daughter potty training books about 1 month before we even broached the subject with her.
How to choose the right potty
There are two main types of potties: a stand-alone potty and a seat reducer (which go on a traditional toilet seat and reduce the ring to a comfortable, kid-friendly size).
Some go for seat reducers as it is cheaper than a stand-alone potty and take up less floor space. It also helps your child get used to the regular potty, which prevents another transition from stand-alone potty to adult potty, and there is even less mess to clean after use. Plus, seat reducers can be a good fit for copycat kids.
Other parents swear by stand-alone potties. They prefer stand alone potties as it’s kid-size, so your child can get on and off by himself, and during extended periods of trying to go, your toddler won’t be monopolizing the toilet (this is especially important to consider if you only have 1 bathroom at home).
When looking for a stand-alone potty, consider three important features: safety, fit and simplicity
If your toddler’s bum barely covers the inside rim, she’ll probably feel uncomfortable while using the potty. The right size seat will let your child’s bottom rest comfortably on the seat, with her feet firmly on the floor. Do also look for potties with handles, as they will help your child balance a little better.
If you’re potty training a boy, it’s best to select a seat with a splash guard to reduce clean up hassles. Choose one that is high enough to help keep the pee in the potty but isn’t so tall that it will be tricky for your little one to sit down on the potty by himself.
The potty should also be simple enough to use and easy to clean up. Check online product reviews to see how many steps are required to empty and clean the pot. Some are a simple one- or two-step process; others require that you disassemble half the potty — every single time.
For us we chose a stand alone potty for our daughter.
Get rid of all diapers!Once you have bought the potty – the best thing is to make your home diaper free. I know it is difficult to get rid of the “security blanket” but the best way to stop your child from using diapers is to throw away all the diapers at home.
It may result in many accidents and tears for a few days, which may cause more work for you but in the long run, your child would have learnt not to use the diapers.
This means you should also not be using training pants or night diapers. You don’t want to confuse your child. Straight away switch to kids underpants or panties.
Do’s and Don’ts
Potty Training Do’s
1. Watch for tell-tale signs that your child needs to visit the potty. Some common signs include shuffling feet, or fiddling. The best case scenario is if your child is able to alert you before she has an accident.
2. Dress her in comfortable loose clothes. The last thing you want is to struggle with removing her clothes. Shy away from overalls unless your child is adept at removing them and putting them back on.
3. Praise your child after every successful trip to the potty. Experts say that parental praise is actually one of the tried and true methods to ensure successful and pain-free potty training.
4. Let her play or read when sitting on the potty. It’s a good idea to have a special toy just for the potty.
5. Give your tot a little more control during potty training. This will help the training to go faster and smoother.
Potty Training Don’ts
1. Force her to potty train upon reaching a certain age. Just because your eldest learned proper potty training at the age of two does not mean your toddler is expected to also follow suit.
2. Listen to scolding relatives. Many mums feel unwelcome pressure from their relatives to get their child out of diapers and end up passing on the tension to their own child. If someone remarks, “Isn’t she a little too old for diapers?” Just simply reply that “she’s still wearing them, so obviously not!”
3. End up engaging in power struggles with your child. This can easily increase stress levels and prolong the process in the long run.
4. Use nicknames. Some parents believe that giving certain body parts ‘cutesy names’ will help their child. However, this is not the case. Approach potty training in a logical and a matter of fact attitude.
5. Resort to punishing your child when accidents occur. It is not your kid’s fault and punishments will only cause problems to arise and may traumatise your child.
6. Criticise her over the simple potty training process. Criticisms and reprimands will only make the training process take longer than necessary and won’t help your child’s confidence levels.
Patience, my young PadawanOnce you start on the process of potty training, do try to be as patient as possible. Understand that this is a time-consuming process, with many accidents and regressions that can often be frustrating. And sometimes your kid may oppose the idea to stop using diapers.
When these happen it is important that you stay calm and try to understand your child’s plight.
Gently remind your child that pee and poop should go in the potty and not on the floor or the underwear. It is important to establish consistency during the training. But you also need to remember that this is not an easy phase for your kid either.
Potty training is a great challenge and an important milestone in your child’s learning process. Your patience and reassuring presence will greatly help him hurdle this phase easier and with the confidence that you are always there to love him potty trained or not.
This article originally appeared on The Asian Parent