Toilet training is one of the most challenging and rewarding phases of your little girls development. It’s a phase in you’ll both benefit from – you won’t have to change anymore diapers and she won’t have to wear them!
The age range varies for training. It can be anywhere from 18 months to 4 years old. But age aside, the most important factor is to make sure your toddler is physically and emotionally ready. There is no proven benefit to training your child early. She should be able to sit up and be a willing participant in the process. Once you have determined she’s ready to go, try these steps to potty training success!
Twelve Steps to Potty Training Success:
1. Seeing is believing. Toddlers learn best by imitating others. If she has brothers or sisters, let her watch them use the potty (with their permission of course). Some girls who have older brothers try to stand up. It’s best to let your little girl use the potty however she chooses in the beginning. Just calmly explain to her that little girls sit down to potty.
2. Let her help you purchase a potty and decorate it. Let her choose the potty. If you already have a potty from an older sibling, have her decorate it with stickers or nontoxic paint. She’ll love making it her own and this will make the potty experience more personal for her.
3. Read potty books. There are lots of wonderful books that introduce the potty in fun ways. I recommend: Once Upon a Potty – for girls by Alona Frankel; A Potty For Me by Karen Katz; Dora’s Potty Book by Melissa Torres; and No More Diapers For Ducky by Bernette Ford.
4. Purchase pretty panties & plastic pants. Let your daughter pick out her own pair of panties. You can find them in the theme she likes best – Dora the Explorer, Disney Princess, Curious George, etc. She’ll think she’s a big girl! If you want to avoid messes, purchase plastic training pants to slip over her underwear.
5. Find the perfect potty placement. Some parents prefer to teach their toddlers to go only in the bathroom. Others find that allowing their child to place their potty wherever they want to works best. Go with your child’s instincts. Some children learn better if they’re in charge of where they sit on the potty. Allowing her to go in the kitchen or family room might be worth the effort.
6. Time it, baby! During the first couple of days it helps to set a potty schedule. Sit your child on the potty every 20-30 minutes. It will help cut down on accidents and clean-ups and will help get her used to going on the potty. Even if your toddler says she doesn’t have to go, gently encourage her to try. The more often she goes to the potty – even if she doesn’t actually use the bathroom – the more likely she’ll learn to do it on her own. Toddlers learn best by repetition, so – repeat, repeat, repeat!
7. Let her run “wild & free.” One of the best techniques is to let her run around naked. Yes, buck naked. This will encourage her to use the potty when she has to go. Many parents swear by this method. One word of advice? Just have a bottle of Pine Sol and a mop ready for clean-ups!
8. Reward, Reward, Reward! Successful potty training centers on positive encouragement, caring, love and lots and lots of praise. Think of a special reward system for every time your daughter uses the potty successfully. For example, make a sticker book and let her put her favorite sticker in the book each time she goes. This can also become a great keepsake for after she’s potty trained. Whatever method you choose, be consistent. Your toddler will come to expect a reward every time she goes so keep the reward simple.
9. Create a training schedule. Toddlers are creatures of habit and they thrive on predictability and routine. When training, try as best you can to follow a schedule. For example, if you know your toddler usually poops in the morning, be sure to sit her on the potty right after she wakes up. This will help her to get used to going during that time.
10. Keep trying & stay positive. Potty training requires mistakes, messes, and near- misses. Keep trying with your toddler and eventually she will get the hang of it. Don’t expect her to be potty trained right away – it will take some time and lots of practice. Make sure you always tell her that she’s done a great job.
11. Get creative. Give your little girl something fun to do while she’s on the potty. Let her pick out special books that she can stack by the potty for when she’s ready to try. Or, place a special toy or stuffed animal friend by the potty for encouragement.
12. No more nighttime! Once she’s got the daytime routine down, your daughter will be ready for the next step- tossing the diapers at night. Usually, parents continue to use pull-ups or diapers at night for a little while even if their child is using underwear during the day. Nighttime training can take more time – up to 6 months after daytime training. You’ll know if she’s ready by checking her diaper in the morning to see if it’s wet or dry. Once you see that she is consistently dry, she’s ready to try underwear at night.
TA-DA! She’s all grown-up! When your little girl is ready to say goodbye to diapers altogether, celebrate her accomplishment. Have a special family dinner and serve her favorite food. Or, reward her with a trip to the zoo or another activity she enjoys.
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