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Why, When & How to Toilet Train a Toddler

by Joan Lowell
Photo by: Pexels

Is toilet training in your near future?

You’ve survived your baby’s infancy. Congratulations! Let’s get onto those exciting toddler years, when kids are so easy to please. (Trust me!). Now let’s talk about toilet training. Spring and summer are a great time to start.

Why? Children all go through phases, but most will not be diapered through their teen years. Luckily, parents can handle most of what kids throw at them. Toilet training can be an ugly conversation. Nobody wants to hear they are doing it wrong. Fortunately, most kids will show readiness, and, yes, that is a great time to start.

When? Sometime after age one and before age two, kids will demonstrate they know they are wet or soiled, either by asking to be changed or by hiding to do the deed. (You’ve seen the two-year-old who hides under the table to poop and then tells his mom he needs a clean diaper.) It is up to parents to recognize the signs and begin the teaching process. If you think you missed some magic window, you didn’t. Just start.

How? Start with a potty chair or a toilet ring in the bathroom. Most kids will follow mom or dad into the bathroom and figure out what happens there. I used to put my kids, clothes on, sitting on their potty chair, around age one. Sometime between 18 and 24 months, start taking the child to the potty at regular times (or times when you predict he or she will wet or soil) like right when he or she wakes up, before or after baths, after meals, before naps or bed, and whenever an hour or two has passed between attempts.

It is super important to never scold a child for accidents, but to let them know it is okay and they will make it next time. Help the child to manage clothing, especially at first. This is when to start using pull-up style disposable diapers, so kids can feel the up/down like underwear but parents don’t get stuck with dirty underwear every day.

The key to potty-training is consistency. Parents need to give children opportunities to succeed, and reward them for it. Kids get distracted easily, so parents can use a timer to help remind them when an hour or so has passed. It is easy to give up or just say the child is too young or not ready, but keep trying. Kids can be trained by age three, in most cases, with very few accidents.

Wishing you many dry nights and the extinction of your diaper bill!

Mom of six great kids ages 8 to 21 (and now Grama!), trained educator and certified teacher, I earned my BS from RI College and MEd from Providence College. A few of my many hats: wife, mother, educator, Local Area Rep for Go Au Pair in Providence, writer of a local blog for Go Au Pair’s Host Families and Au Pairs. Baking, gardening, reading and relaxing on the porch are favorite hobbies.

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