How to Potty Train Your Baby

When beginning to potty train your child, patience and consistency are the key factors in succeeding. Create a plan and have a routine set up before you embark on this hard, yet rewarding, journey. By developing a structure, your child will learn to use the potty and will continue to do so through positive reinforcement.

The first step in potty training is to make sure that you child can communicate effectively. By letting them know that it is okay to interrupt you, even if it inconveniences you, you enable them to be more self-aware and less self-conscious. Even if it is a false alarm, or if they do not make it to the potty in time, it is imperative that you do not express negative or angry emotions, as this will hinder your child’s progress. If this behavior continues, your child may want to avoid the potty altogether for fear of making you upset. A child can be very sensitive to stressful environments, and may wish to avoid causing more problems by avoiding this process altogether. By showing your child a warm, nurturing, and supportive environment, the potty training process will be much easier for everyone involved.

Children are usually ready between the ages of 18 months to 36 months. However, every child is different and some have been known to potty train before or after these ages. There is no right or wrong age to begin, as it is up to the child to show signs of readiness first. Your child must be able to communicate, understand, and use the necessary words to express their feelings. The parent may choose which words they want their child to associate with the eliminations. Your child may begin to show interest in the potty, or insist on being in there with you when you need to go. Your child also should have somewhat predictable bowel movements and be capable of following simple instructions. Verbal or nonverbal signs should be used for when they are going in their diaper, as well as when they feel uncomfortable wearing a dirty diaper. He or she should also be able to pull his or her pants up or down independently. If your child shows three or more of these signs, it may be a good time to begin.

It is imperative that you begin to potty train at a time when no other significant events are taking place. No vacations, no addition of siblings, or big moves should be expected, so that you are able to dedicate your complete and entire attention to this process.

Positive reinforcement is the biggest part of potty training. Showing your child in a fun and encouraging way that he or she has done something correctly will lead your child to continue this action in order to experience another great response from you. Verbal reinforcement and excitement should be used in every single step of potty training, whether it is just expressing the need, making it to the bathroom, using the potty correctly, wiping, and flushing, whatever it may be. Many parents often choose a reward system, letting their child put a sticker on a chart each time they potty train successfully. A certain number of stickers equal a reward for the child.

It is best to start with small, realistic goals, and slowly make the process more challenging for your child. If he or she sees that it is easy to get a sticker just by telling you they need to use the potty, that is all they are going to want to accomplish because they know they will get a reward. The first two or three days are the most difficult, but your patience and encouragement will be the determining factor in deciding if your child is ready. If he or she just does not respond or shows a complete lack of interest, postpone the training until your child feels more involved.

Once your child begins potty training, they should use regular underwear during the day and potty training pants at nighttime. When he or she can remain dry for two to three weeks throughout the night, they may use underwear at night as well.