Potty Train Like a Pro
Being a parent comes with a few guarantees: There will be joy, there will be sadness and there will be times of transition. One of the biggest transitions for parents of small children is potty training. “I was so nervous about potty training with my first. I didn’t know what to expect or how hard it would be. I was flying totally blind,” says Sarah Parks, Olathe mom.
We gathered tips and tricks from metro area parents to help make sure your adventures in toilet training are as stress-free as possible.
- Look for signs your child is ready. Your pediatrician can give you a complete list of the signs that your child is ready to start potty training. Some of the signs include the child’s staying dry at nap time, asking questions about the potty, complaining about dirty diapers and being able to dress and undress himself. “I figured out the hard way I should have taught my daughter to take off her own clothes before we potty trained. She had several accidents just because she couldn’t get her pants down fast enough. I know better for next time!” says Jenna Blake, Shawnee mom.
- Know the lingo. Make sure you are using the correct words during the process. Making up nicknames for body parts or underwear could lead to confusion later on when your child is in a different environment.
- Pick the method that works for your family. Different methods for potty training abound and nearly all of them have been successful for someone. Make sure to research the options, talk to experts (such as your pediatrician) and take into account your family situation. “We did a three-day training method for my son. With my daughter, we were moving and expecting a baby—it didn’t make sense to rush. It took a little longer, but they are both successfully diaper-free!” says Amy Anthony, Kansas City, MO, mom.
- Look for the signs. Pay attention to the signs that your child needs to go to the bathroom and help her begin to notice the signs on her own. Getting your child to stop what he is doing in order to go to the bathroom can be difficult, so you may find it helpful to set a timetable in the beginning. Take your child to the bathroom every 20 minutes, then gradually spread out the potty trips to fit your child’s actual bathroom schedule.
- Don’t stress the setbacks. Don’t get discouraged by setbacks. Accidents happen! Help set your child up for success by reading books about potty training, maintaining a positive attitude and encouraging all the people in your child’s support network to jump on board. If your child doesn’t respond to your efforts to potty train within a week or two, you may be trying too early.
- Enjoy your success! If you want to incentivize your child with a reward that fits your parenting style, feel free. Enjoy it when your child accomplishes small steps toward potty training and, when you reach the point of kicking the diapers for good, let your child know what a great accomplishment this is!
Fun Facts About Potty Training
- Despite all the articles on toilet training in the popular media, very few scientific studies have addressed the issue of how best to potty train a child.
- In the 1940s, the average age for potty training was 18 months. Averages today, according to a 2001 study by Schum, show baby boys in the United States give up diapers at 39 months and girls at 35 months.
- Babies don’t have the physical ability to hold urine and stool until they’re at least 12 to 18 months old.
Melissa Bellach is a freelance writer, wife and mom of two living in Overland Park.