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Thursday, 21 March 2013

When is the right time to potty train and what do I do?

Number 3 son in 2009

Working with children under 5 for almost two decades and raising 4 children of my own, I've seen many a transition from dependable nappies to independent pants.  I've been asked the question
"when do I start training my child?"
 When indeed.  Like absolutely everything else I always say
"it depends on the child"

I've helped toddlers as young as 11 months to independently use the potty, but that is rare.  The average age to begin is around 15 months, as long as your little one is able to walk and stoop to sit on a potty.  The time of the year matters too.  Why?  When a child is unwell, regardless of what age, accidents are bound to happen, you do not want to set your child up to fail.  If the weather is warmer, accidents don't turn to ice giving your little one a cold.  Your little one can run around bare bottomed when it's warm (only allow this outdoors or if you have moppable floors, I will not be footing your carpet cleaning bills!!).  I toilet trained my 2nd son at 11 months old in Barbados, we've never looked back!!
"How'd ya do it?"
It starts from birth really.  Your baby is learning from the womb so as soon as your baby arrive in this world the voice begins to match with the visual and physical actions. When changing your baby say
"What have we got in here?, Did you do a ___? Oh that's for the toilet!"
When you use the toilet, your little 'un can tag along, I know it's your private moment and probably the only peace you get but hey!  For long term relief, why not.
Once your baby can sit up independently, why not place him/her on the potty whilst you are on the toilet.  At an older age there is more of a pressure to train, so you as a parent are anxious or even regimented about the process, children feel this and often become worried, this then 'puts them off'.  As smaller babies it just becomes a routine thing with nothing to worry about.
"It worked for the first 3 of my boys and all were using the potty regularly by the age of 1" 
Did you notice I said first 3 and I have 4?  Well, baby number 4 does not like to sit on the potty.  He has peed in it once but that was standing up and holding the potty in his hands!  Most of it was on the floor but he has obviously been watching daddy and his brothers and wants to stand!  Luckily enough we are going to Barbados and I aim to leave him bare bummed.  At least he will be able to see what comes out and how, it teaches him to be aware, the next step is teaching him where to put it!

Whenever they 'score a goal' give them positive praise, show them what they have done and allow them to help flush it away.  Some children do not even like the potty, if so, try them with the family toilet, after all that is your ultimate goal, it's quicker if you can skip the potty.  Use child friendly toilet paper and hand wash which encourages participation.
"Remember that every child is an individual"
Don't give up or get flustered if your little one doesn't seem to be getting it.  If you have real concerns and your child is still in nappies only, after the age of 30 months, discuss this with your health visitor who will help you to find a specified toilet training regime for your child.  Many children are still being toilet trained past the age of three.

Points to remember:

  • Every child is different
  • Don't be afraid to introduce the potty early
  • Show and tell....  just like everything else your baby/child learns through what you say and do
  • Be relaxed, it will happen!

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