Want to know how to potty train your toddler but absolutely dreading this whole phase? Then you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s face it, potty training is nobody’s idea of a good time and you are going to be stuck indoors for a few days straight once you crack on with it but when done at the right time (somewhere between 18months and 3 years is usual) with a healthy toddler who is ready, you can definitely get potty training all wrapped up in just a few (long) days.
Anyway, let’s crack on shall we because we are all busy and quite frankly nobody wants to spend more time than necessary talking about the bowel habits of tiny folk.
How to potty train your toddler
#1 Recognise the signs that your toddler is ready
Some of the most common signs are:
- Pulling at a wet or dirty nappy
- Telling you that they’ve done a wee or poo
- Hiding when they need a poo
- Dry nappies – ie, they can hold it for longer periods of time
- Talking about or interest in using the potty or other people going to the toilet
- Bladder control – if they can confidently walk up and down the stairs then apparently bladder control is likely to be ready (weird but true)
- A level of independence and desire to please – this will make the whole process a lot easier
Being sure that they are ready is probably the most important step in the whole process. Do not be guilt-tripped into pushing them to do it earlier than necessary because your mother had you and all your sibling’s potty trained by 16months old. *eye rolls*
Use your mother’s instinct – you know your child best.
#2 Take your toddler to the toilet with you
Part of getting a toddler interested is by showing them what to do. Build up to potty training by getting them used to going into the bathroom. Having a little audience asking just what is that smell / noise / face pulling each time you go to the bathroom should be the norm at this stage. Get used to talking about it in a positive way and simply explain that big girls / boys do their wee’s and poo’s on the toilet. Tell them that they will do that too when they are a big girl / boy and always use positive language for discussing toilet behaviour.
#3 Go shopping
Go out and choose a potty together. Sophie loves Frozen so we have ones with Anna and Elsa pictures on them. This immediately provides a positive association and she loves singing ‘Let it go’ whilst using the potty. All the irony.
We also chose her big girl knickers in the same way and she’s thrilled to wear them.
#4 Use a potty training chart and reward systems
Making a big deal about it on the first day and showing them that when they successfully use the potty, they get a sticker to put on the chart is an excellent way of consolidating the message that using the potty is a really good thing.
Try to choose a time when you know you can be at home for a few days straight. Avoid a time when they might be unwell or off colour or if there is a big life change happening at the same time. Once you have bookmarked the time, just go for it.
- Commit to the potty training for a few days straight
- Let them roam around without pants on
- Remind them very regularly to use the potty (probably every 20-30 mins
- Use a lot of praise when they get it right
#6 Have more than one potty for ease of use
We have three – one for the downstairs, one for the upstairs and a portable travel potty for the car and days out. Some people keep one in each room, some people only have them in the bathrooms – just do what you think will work best for you and your family set up.
#7 Don’t use pull-ups unless you have to
Once you start potty training, you need to follow through. Nappies should only be used at night time and when you absolutely have to (like if you have to drive somewhere urgently). FYI night time potty training usually comes a lot later on so don’t worry about that too much for now.
#8 Praise Praise Praise
Making a big deal of what a big girl / boy they are because they’ve used the potty is usually enough reward but if you’re struggling, don’t be averse to a bit of bribery. Stickers might do the trick but as old-fashioned as this might sound, a little treat sweet might work wonders for a successful potty trip too. Sugar-police strike me down but whatever…it works.
What if they won’t sit on the potty?
Pretty common. If your toddler just won’t sit on the potty then stay calm, never force them to sit on it because you will start giving them negative associations.
I always suggest trying the big toilet if the potty won’t work and you might find that does the trick.
What if they say it’s not working?
Super duper common for potty training toddlers to say this when they sit on the potty. Try running the taps so the sound of running water encourages them. Or you can try filling a bowl with warm water (bath water temperature) and popping their hand or foot into it. Something about this mum hack often helps them to release and have a wee.
What if they won’t sit on the potty long enough to do anything?
Bribery is your best friend but CALM bribery. Be as relaxed about it as possible but maybe try giving them something to play with or reading a story with them whilst they are sat on the potty – it might buy you a few minutes of distraction in which they can do the deed.
If they really don’t sit for long enough just keep reminding them to try at regular intervals.
My toddler keeps having accidents – are they ready?
If they are following all of the cue’s above and you really thought they’d be ready then they probably are. Just be patient, positive (no shouting about accidents!) and reminding them to sit on the potty. Make it as fun as possible.
If they don’t seem to understand or are getting really distressed about it all then there’s no rules against taking a little break and coming back to it when you think they are ready.
Don’t forget hygiene
This is the time to teach about toilet and bathroom hygiene. Wiping front to back for girls, cleaning up spills (probably just watching you do it!), flushing the toilet and washing hands. It’s easy to let them jump off the potty and run off but start these important life habits right away.
Mum hack – if you have a toddler who likes to unroll the whole toilet roll, then put it on the holder backwards so it makes it a lot harder to unravel
If you have any life-changing potty training tips to share with other mum’s then why not drop them into the comments box below so we can all benefit.
The main thing to take away from this post though is to make sure your toddler is ready and to be as patient, positive and calm in your approach as possible.