Daydreaming of getting your little one out of diapers? As your infant transitions into toddlerhood, getting him or her to do their business on the potty naturally takes center stage. The good news is that the milestone doesn’t have to be a stressful affair! On the contrary, these potty training tips should have you coasting over the finish line in no time.
Don’t Forget That Children Learn At Their Own Pace
One crucial thing to keep in mind is that every kid is different. Case in point: My oldest daughter said sayonara to diapers at just 20 months. Her baby sister? Not so much. At two and a half, she was still struggling with frequent accidents. But she eventually came around; she just needed some time. Do yourself a favor and don’t compare your toddler to other children.
In general, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that 21 months is a great time to introduce the concept.
Gradually Get your Child Familiar With the Idea
Chances are, your little one isn’t going to go pee pee on the potty right from the jump. With toddlers being so accustomed to diapers, it can take a bit to get them used to this foreign idea of going on the toilet.
When it comes to potty training tips, this one’s a gem: Before jumping into training all the way, introduce them to the idea slowly. In our house, I let my daughters come with me into the bathroom from a very young age to see how Mommy did potty. You’d be surprised at how eager they were to sit on the toilet themselves. Did they actually go to the bathroom? Nope, but it got them excited about the idea. (I was sure to majorly praise them just for trying.)
Inconsistencies Are Normal
Any parent who’s in the throes of potty training will tell you that the process is very up and down. One day your child is a potty rock star who has no accidents; the next, he has three. Rest easy—inconsistencies are par for the course. Hang in there!
Don’t Stress Over Nighttime Bedwetting
It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking potty training tips for girls or boys, one bit of advice applies to both: Staying dry through the night is an entirely different animal. My 4-year-old is in underwear all day and never has accidents; but she’s still learning to hold it in overnight. My pediatrician has assured me that this is totally normal and that her body will learn to regulate it over time. In the meantime, she’s in Pull-Ups just for bedtime.
The Cold Turkey Approach Is Hit or Miss
While training my now 6 year old, the term “boot camp potty training” kept coming up in my mommy circles. The idea here is to approach the process in a cold-turkey type way. With nothing to lose, we gave it a whirl. I rolled up the throw rug (thankfully I had wood floors), stripped her naked from the waist down, then accepted the fact that we would not be leaving the house for two or three days. From there, I set a timer for every 15 minutes, plopping her on the potty every time it went off.
At first, nothing. But after an hour or so, she actually went! You have to be vigilant though. If, for example, I caught her in mid-pee (or poop), I would scoop her up, run her to the bathroom, and let her finish on the potty. It was an exhausting few days, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that she mastered this whole potty business like a pro.
But it’s worth mentioning that my younger daughter, while exposed to the exact same approach, just didn’t take to it. (It was stressing her out, which was the exact opposite of what I wanted.) After two days, we called it quits.
Potty Training Tips for Girls
Here’s a roundup of three tried-and-true potty training tips for girls.
1. Teach her the right way to wipe: When teaching your little girl how to wipe properly, be sure to emphasize wiping from front to back—not the other way around, which can lead to infections after going number two.
2. Read girl-specific books: Let your bedtime story double as a training tool. Books like “My Big Girl Potty” and “Princess of the Potty” will drive the idea home to your little gal. For a full list of great books, click here.
3. Choose a Special Reward: One thing that really worked for us with our little one was having her focus on a super-special reward. For example, if she went the entire day with no accidents, she could have a scoop of ice cream after dinner. This turned out to be a really great, low-pressure way to incentivize the process for her. (And it really did!) As the time between accidents gets longer, choose a bigger item like a desired toy or stuffed animal blanket.
Potty Training Tips for Boys
Got a little guy at home? Here are our favorite potty training tips for boys.
1. Create a target: A friend of mine struck gold when she came upon the idea of turning potty training into a game for her son. Instead of simply prompting him to go pee pee, she put Cheerios in the toilet—then asked him to see how many he could “hit.” Let’s just say, her little boy was more than eager to give it a try.
2. Patience is Key: Perhaps one of the best potty training tips for boys is that going to the bathroom often takes a backseat to play time. While babysitting my nephew when he was in the process, he would get so engrossed with something during playtime that he didn’t want to tear himself away to go potty. Let’s face it, playing with his Ninja Turtles was way more exciting for him. Be patient with your little guy. In our family, using time warnings has been really effective. (“We’re going potty in 10 minutes.”)
3. Use positive reinforcement: One of the best potty training tips for both genders is to reinforce positive behavior. Never, ever shame your child for having an accident—or worse, discipline them for it. Remember that they’re still learning and this is all new to them. Instead, make a big to-do when they do get it right. Mini M&Ms, jellybeans and stickers are all great little rewards that are easy to dole out.
Have any potty training tips of your own? We’d love to hear them! Drop us a comment below.