Dr. Aisha Reuler and Dr. Susana Myers contributed to the Herald's Health & Wellness feauture, "Toilet-training 101."
By the time children reach their second and third years of life, the daunting task of getting them out of diapers and transitioning to using the toilet has probably made it onto their parents' to-do list.
Children may be ready for toilet training if they:
- Can express interest in toilet training
- Demonstrate independence and use the word “no”
- Can follow simple instructions
- Are dry at least two hours at a time during the day or after naps
- Have recognizable cues that they are about to urinate or have a bowel movement.
- Can walk to the bathroom, sit, and pull clothes up and down independently.
Keep in mind that it can be normal for some children to be ready later than this and children with certain medical conditions or developmental delays may be embarking on toilet training at even older ages.
Toilet training 101:
- Make a plan. Decide when and how you want to start, how to handle accidents, and when to back off (i.e. illness, arrival of a new sibling, toilet training resistance). Discuss your plan with your child-care providers.
- Take it slow. Mastering the various steps of potty training can take a few days to a few months. Let your child take his or her time, moving from one stage to the next at their own pace.
- Buy the right equipment. Buy a floor level potty training chair that allows your child's feet to touch the floor when sitting down on it.
- Practice. Have your child practice sitting on the chair. Watch for signs of needing to use the bathroom — such as holding the genital area or pulling at pants.
- Motivate your child. Use gentle reminders and encouragement. If your child uses the potty, make sure to offer rewards like treats, stickers and plenty of praise and hugs.
- Transition when ready. Once your child is using the potty training chair, introduce loose fitting underwear he or she can easily pull up and down by themself. Once you start your child in underwear, use diapers only for naps, bedtime or when traveling.
- Remember, it's a process. It's likely your toddler will have many accidents before being completely potty trained. Avoid getting angry, yelling or punishing.
If your child starts to resist at any step, it's OK to back off and try again in a few weeks. If it continues to be a struggle, or if you have questions about the process, talk to your pediatrician.