Potty Training a Toddler: 10 Best Tips
Here are some tips on how to approach potty training. From general tips on how to watch out for signs that your kiddo is ready, to a couple of different techniques parents around the world use.
Are girls easier to potty train than boys?
Is there gender equality in potty training learning? There has definitely been a discourse regarding this subject for a while now on whether it is easier to potty train one gender from the other.
For the longest time, it was thought that training girls was way easier and faster than training boys. Some people chalked it up to the simple reason that girls have to learn only one position for the whole potty training process while boys have to learn how to urinate while standing up and potty while sitting, which can be confusing for a child. Then there have been some studies like the 2001 study titled Factors associated with Toilet Training in the 1990s, the 2002 study titled Sequential acquisition of toilet-training skills: a descriptive study of sex and age differences in normal children, and the 2003 study titled Relationship between age at initiation of toilet training and duration of training: a prospective study that help back up the theory that girls do indeed potty train at a younger age. However, there are some others that dispute these ideas. Some experts in the field like Carol Cline beg to differ. Carol Cline is a mother of four and the owner of a child daycare. She developed the 3-day potty training method and has been known as a potty training guru of sorts. Carol stated in an interview that it’s all just a myth: “Boys and girls are exactly the same to potty train! This myth started due to the basic fact that typically in the past, women would be the ones responsible for potty training the child. Typically women feel more comfortable potty training their daughters simply because they can relate better to them. In reality, you potty train a boy the exact same way you would a girl – there is no difference.”
Regardless if you have a girl or boy, what we do know is that every child is different and each will be unique in their potty training. It might be trial and error; what worked with one might not work with another, so you may need to try diverse tricks with each one. What really does make a difference is your child's personality and your ability to work around their own unique way of learning and keeping up positive encouragement throughout the process.
Tip: Notice the signs
Does your child already know potty lingo? Regardless of the words you chose to teach them, can they understand what urinating/peeing and defecating/pooping is? If they have an awareness of these words your child might even start becoming more vocal about them. You know the usual, “I think I just pooped” or “I’m peeing now!” or the “I wanna go potty!” are all good signs that kiddo is aware and conscious of his or her body and behavior.
Frequency of diaper change
Whenever you notice you’re changing the diaper less frequently, the diaper has been dry for longer than usual, or when the potty schedule becomes predictable, it might be a good sign that the baby might be ready to start potty training. If you notice there are specific hours when you exclusively change the diaper, then that might be the best time to attempt the teaching.
Growth in interest
If your kid shows curiosity over the toilet, what it is or what mommy and daddy do in it, you’re already on a good route. Your kid might also start asking about specific potty, diaper or toilet questions.
Another good sign is when your kid begins asking for more frequent diaper changes. Do they show they’re uncomfortable or disgusted by the smell of the diaper and what’s in it? Does he or she show signs of dislike or unease, like pulling at the diaper or trying to remove it? If so, this is definitely a green light to move forward.
What if there are no signs?
This can also happen! Your child might not show any signs of interest, discomfort or displeasure on having a poopy diaper and that’s totally okay. Nothing is wrong just because their interest is elsewhere and they're not curious about this particular subject- we know it’s not our favorite either! So if this is your kid, something that might help is changing the way you communicate. Instead of asking “do you want to go potty?”, why not propose to go to the bathroom and try and see if they wanna go potty. “I think it’s time we go to the toilet seat and check if you wanna go potty”. It doesn’t matter if your kid doesn’t really have a need to potty and you end up standing there while he or she is sitting for a bit. But after a while of following this tactic, your kid might start to better understand the need to potty and make conscious decisions as to when they really do need to go.
We can’t stress enough how much positivity is key. You have to stay positive. Accidents will happen, they’re not deliberate so cover up your frustrations and conceal any dissatisfaction in the face of failure. The way you react can affect the way your child perceives the entire operation. You gotta be supporting and praise any small accomplishments. Be reassuring yet persistent and keep offering to take them potty even if they refuse. You can always try again later, but be sure to keep asking consistently.
Tip: Songs of Praise
For some parents, having bribes or rewards for the child can help during the potty training journey. It’s really all up to your parenting style and the behavior of your baby to determine what route you’re going to take. Try keeping a reward chart or giving out stickers whenever they do a good job. You could also make it a fun experience by singing a special potty song when they’re in the toilet and they might even begin to look forward to it! Always remember to make it an enjoyable time and to praise them. Not only when they do a good job, but praise them for trying, too. Half the battle is getting them interested enough to try.
Tip: Understanding their feelings and acting upon them
The new changes happening can make your child feel disoriented. The unfamiliar challenge can sometimes be outside of their comfort zone. They might feel confused or even resentful at having to change their ways. Being understanding of their feelings can help you figure out the correct approach to potty chair training. Some kids are happy willing learners, while others can be reluctant. Try to go with the flow and figure out how your child might be feeling. Understanding their feelings will help you choose the correct potty training methods.
Tip: Approaches from parents around the world: tools in the potty training journey
Cultural norms greatly influence the age at which a baby begins toilet training. In countries such as India and China, parents tend to begin toilet training babies when they are younger than a year old. In Western countries including Germany, France, the U.K. and the United States, babies typically do not begin toilet training until approximately two years of age. Many factors play into potty training age by countries including quality of diapers, cloth diaper use in low-income societies and elimination in communication techniques.
Babies will become continent in their own time, there is absolutely nothing wrong with starting the journey when you notice signs that they are ready. But if you’re looking to go rogue on Western practices and look at some of the potty training tips from countries like India and China - you can incorporate a couple with your own training style.
Communication Elimination tactics
Parents in developing countries (let’s be real, they’re mostly mothers and grandmothers) usually engage in communication elimination or infant potty training tactics early on, sometimes right after birth. These involve watchful monitoring of the body and facial expressions of the baby to better predict when they will poop or pee, sometimes combined with tips such as helping them pee on command by whispering “psss.” These mothers will make a dash to the toilet seat, potty or container and get the child used to peeing there every time. Often, if their budget allows, they will pair this approach with diaper pants for babies so that they may slide it down easily and otherwise be protected against mistakes. There is a ton of information on communication elimination - we suggest you do your research and decide if it is an approach that would work well with your family and time schedule.
How to incorporate: Communication Elimination doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. You can use some of its wisdom and incorporate it into your own training style. Try studying your child to understand signs that they are pottying. Pair it with diaper pants and try to anticipate body functions and making a dash to the potty. Try helping them pee on command by ushering “psss” to help them gain continence.
Using low-performance diapers
Another factor that plays into developing countries having younger potty-trained children is the lack of access to good quality diapers. Good quality diapers are highly absorbent and will keep the baby comfortable and dry even after repeated pee spurts. These are god sent to parents as the baby will sleep better at night and should have low incidence of diaper rash due to lack of continued exposure to humidity. These awesome diapers, however, do not allow a child to easily transition to potty training as they cannot correlate the effect of their actions to their comfort. When babies are old enough to understand the consequences, they are more likely to feel motivated to pee in the potty. Babies using high absorbency diapers will feel comfortable after peeing and will not associate peeing themselves with any discomfort or negative consequence.
How to incorporate: Switch to cloth diapers or very low-performance disposables during the day and keep using Parasol during the night. Cloth diapers during the day will allow your babe to correlate wetness and discomfort with peeing.
Ease into underwear transition using Diaper Pants or Diaper training pants.
Diaper pants, also known in America as potty training pants, can help you ease into underwear use and allow your child to wear diapers that they can slide down themselves. Diaper pants have been growing in popularity all around the world as parents enjoy the benefits of changing diapers on-the-go while the baby is crawling, rolling or walking. Additionally, when your child is showing signs that they are ready to journey into toilet training, you can slide the training pants or diaper pants on and off easily and efficiently.
How to incorporate: Switch to diaper pants or use both regular diaper and diaper training pants as you transition. As your child gets better at continence you can even wear them over their clothes to prevent any accidents.