It’s no secret that potty training is one of the biggest challenges parents tackle during toddlerhood. But, no matter how many setbacks you face, you will help your little one master this milestone when the time is right. Like most other aspects of parenting, all it takes is patience, a sense of humor and (maybe) a few tricks up your sleeve. Here are some helpful tips for losing those diapers without losing your marbles.
The Right Time
You may be eager to ditch the diapers, but your toddler has to be ready before potty training will be successful. Starting earlier doesn’t necessarily mean you will be diaper-free sooner; it will probably just end up taking longer. Your best bet is to wait until your child isn’t going through any other major changes and shows signs of being developmentally ready. One important sign is having dry periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows bladder muscles are adequately developed.
Read All About It
Books can be a fun and useful tool for introducing your child to the concept of using the potty. There are a variety of books available, and many are specialized for boys or girls. My Big Boy Potty (or My Big Girl Potty) by Joanna Cole has received rave reviews from parents, and is available in a board book. Some kids don’t like taking time to sit on the potty, but reading while they sit can keep them entertained. And what better reading material could there be than a book about the potty?
Some parents say keeping potty chairs around the house is what worked for them. If a potty is readily available as soon as the need strikes, the chances of making it in time are higher. Plus, there is less fuss involved if a toddler doesn’t have to leave the room he’s already playing in. This is also a smart tactic for getting through the night without accidents, since keeping a potty near the bed encourages nighttime use.
Easy Does It
Keep your little one in clothing that’s easily removable. Loose shorts or pants with elastic waists, or dresses for little girls, make it easier (and quicker) to get down to business. You might even keep them in these clothes without a diaper, or in no clothes at all, while you’re at home. You may be mopping up a few puddles, but some parents have had success with this method in as little as two days.
Scheduled potty breaks might be the way to go if you’re looking for some structure. In the beginning, set a timer for every 30 minutes and have your child sit on the potty when it dings. Stay with them, and even if they just sit there, praise them for the effort and remind them they can try again later. As they begin to progress, increase the amount of time between breaks to 60 and then 90 minutes.
Quid Pro Quo
Let’s not call it bribery; positive reinforcement is such a better term. Whatever you want to call it, rewarding your child for potty attempts and using the potty can be a powerful incentive. Prizes can be simple and inexpensive, like stickers. Or you could have a special piggy bank and give one penny for going number one, two pennies for number two. For the child with a sweet tooth, try one or two mini M&M’s or a similar treat.
You can cut down on the clean up by protecting the furniture most likely to fall victim to an accident, like your child’s mattress and car seat. I highly recommend getting a mattress cover for the bed. They’re relatively cheap and will prevent ugly stains. They’re easy to pull off and throw into the washing machine – so much easier than scrubbing a mattress. You can also buy waterproof car seat protectors, which are less hassle than removing the car seat cover.
Throw in the Towel (For Now)
Know when to take a break from training. If your child is not ready, that’s ok. Don’t try to force him if he is resistant to the potty, just try again in a couple of months. It’s very common to have several attempts at potty training before it sticks for good. If one method of training doesn’t work, try another way next time. Every child is different and operates on his own unique timeline, but rest assured, his time will come!