While there is no magic age for potty training, most toddlers will develop the necessary physical and cognitive skills between 18-24 months (though some aren't ready to start until as old as four). Look out for some independence and an understanding of what it means to go to the bathroom. They may start telling you when they have soiled their nappy too.
Before potty training begins, it is a good idea to buy a potty and leave it next to the toilet to introduce your toddler to the idea of using it. Travel potties are also useful when away from home as children often form an attachment to their potty, causing distress when it is not available. Some of these will also convert into toilet seats which are great for avoiding problems in public toilets. At home, trainer seats are often used as the next stage in potty training and don't forget a toilet step so that your toddler can reach!
Parents are often under pressure from family or friends to start potty training but, if you start too early, it often means your child has to be reminded about the toilet several times a day and the hanging on is reduced to vital seconds. Leaving training until they show signs that they are ready means that the whole process is a lot easier and quicker.
While some children are soon dry at night too, it is perfectly normal to continue in nappies for a year or more at night, with occasional bed wetting for a few years. It is only when your toddler has regular dry nappies in the morning that you should stop using them at night. A waterproof sheet on the bed is a good idea and trainer pants are perfect for the transition from nappies.
Here are few tips from mums to make the potty training experience easier:
- keep a potty or travel potty in the boot of the car on long journeys. When your toddler needs the toilet, they usually need to go straight away!
- when you stop using a nappy at night, buy a few pairs of trainer pants. It is much easieir to change pants at 3.00am than the whole bed!
- remind your toddler often about the toilet, especially if they are playing, as they may not want to stop their game to use the potty
- it is useful to keep a travel potty in the bottom of the buggy as it is often difficult to find a public toilet quickly when you are out and, if you do, these are not always the most toddler-friendly places!
- once you have stopped using nappies, don't be tempted to go back to one if you are on a long day out as this will only confuse your toddler. Take a couple of pairs of trainer pants with you instead and, if there is an accident, you can quickly change the pants.
Above all, keep calm and avoid putting pressure on your toddler. They will get there in the end!