A black haired boy sitting on a toilet seat and playing with the toilet paper

Potty Training 101 – Expert Guide to a Smooth Transition

Parents of toddlers will all tackle potty training at some point, and it can feel daunting when you don’t know where to begin. Understanding that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach is a good first step since toddlers are strong-willed and have unique personalities and preferences. It also helps to consider several popular methods to see which might fit your lifestyle, your child’s temperament, and your parenting style best.

Successful potty training combines physical, behavioural, and developmental milestones. For this reason, the age range for potty training can be anywhere from 18 months to 3 years old.

Here are some signs that your child is ready:

  • Waking up from a nap with a dry nappy and having a dry nappy for longer than usual (at least 2 hours).
  • Hiding to pee or poop or showing visible signs they need to go.
  • They’re showing interest in learning to use the potty and wearing underwear.
  • They take off their nappy or pull at it when wet or soiled.
  • They can follow multi-step instructions, like walking to the bathroom, taking off their pants, and sitting down.

Advice from Little Phase Creche:

Little ones begin potty training at school from the year they enter the Rainbow Class (between 2 and 3 years old). This doesn’t mean your toddler can’t start sooner at home. We find that at this age, children communicate their need for toilet time and follow instructions more easily. Here’s some advice from our teachers:

Trust your Instinct: As a parent, you know there are times you are more likely to use the toilet. You also know when your child usually wets or soils their nappy. This could be after eating or drinking or before a nap. Letting your child go at these times can help avoid messes.

Gradual Transition: Start by talking about it regularly and consider investing in a few books about potty training to read together. This helps your child feel comfortable with the topic and can address some of their questions.

Stay Calm: Often, potty training is a process that takes time and patience. You might need to switch methods if your child is not responding well and will need to be prepared for frequent changes of underwear and clothing.

Encouragement: It’s important not to lose your temper and scold or discipline your little one. Children shouldn’t be shamed and made to feel silly while potty training. Positive reinforcement works best and don’t use negative words like “stinky” or “dirty.”

Regular Routines: It’s best to wait at least 1 month after a big change, like a vacation, a new baby, or a move, before starting potty training. Children do better with learning a new skill when they are in a comfortable routine, where parents are not too stressed.

3 Popular Methods for Potty Training:

The 3-Day Potty Training Method

This method might seem daunting but can result in a smooth transition to potty training. The main thing to note is that one or both parents need to be completely available to their child for 3 days straight, dedicated to toilet duty. Ideally, you will want to do this over a long weekend while you’re home with your child. Although intense, the benefit of this form of toilet training is getting quick results.

For the 3 days, your child should wear no nappies. Instead, invest in underwear and prepare yourself for lots of accidents. Let your child know that they should not wet their underwear and ask that they communicate their need to use the loo. As the parent on duty, you’ll need to instruct your child when it’s time for the potty/toilet. If your child starts having an accident, run with them to the potty and let them finish there. Also let them sit on their potty if they’ve just had a meal or drink, or before and after naps.

If your child is 2 or older, this is a good method to try. Let your child drink often so they require frequent trips to the potty and include plenty of high-fibre snacks in their diet.

Child-Orientated Potty-Training Method

A child-driven method like this one is usually met with less resistance and results in fewer cases of regression later. On the other hand, it may take a while for your child to be fully potty trained and nappies will probably still be needed for a while. When it comes to low-stress potty training methods, this is the one to choose.

For this method to work, the parent or caregiver should show their child how the potty/toilet works, and regularly talk about toilet time. You must become attuned to your child’s signals and cues for needing the toilet and should encourage them and lead them to the potty, but not force them to use it. If you have a full and busy schedule, this method works very well. It is suitable for children between the ages of 2 and 3.

Parent-Led Potty Training Method

This is the method we most often recommend, as it is ideal for parents whose children attend creche and who are on a tight schedule. Often, elements of child-orientated potty training will also be present in this method, but the idea is that parents/caregivers foresee the need for using the toilet or potty and then decide when the child uses the toilet.

Consistency is instilled and children become familiar with the routines and times for using their potty, and this is also considered a low-stress potty training method. If children continue at home as they do in their school day, it helps them become comfortable with the idea of transitioning fully. Even during this method, a child should always be taken to the toilet or potty if they request or show the need, no matter what time it is.

If you have any questions, you can always ask one of our teachers or if you’re concerned, you can check with your child’s doctor or paediatrician. Remember that no matter what, your child will get there with the right guidance and support!

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