Your days of buying pricy diapers and wiping smelly bums are coming to an end. Potty training is time consuming, challenging and sometimes messy, but watching your toddler light up when he achieves this milestone is worth every ounce of work you put in. Roll up your sleeves and use this checklist to get your potty-training party started right.
Potty training a child before he is physically and emotionally ready will lead to frustration and take longer than necessary. There is no magic age at which kids are prepared to potty train. Some youngsters are ready by the time they turn 2, while others take significantly longer. Ideally, your child should show interest in the potty, be able to pull down her own clothes, follow simple directions and stay dry for at least two hours before you start to potty train, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Get a potty chair. It's less intimidating than the toilet and your tyke can get on and off of it by herself. When your little one is ready to graduate to the “big people” toilet, use a toilet seat adapter so she won’t fall in. Also, let your child pick out some training pants with her favorite characters on them. She can start wearing her new "big kid" undies after she successfully uses the potty a few times.
Schedule regular bathroom breaks during the day and shortly after your tot has had something to drink. Pay attention to your child's potty signals. If she squats, grunts or stops in the middle of an activity, act fast. She probably has to use the bathroom. Accidents will happen. When they do, simply reassure your toddler of how well she’s doing and help her clean herself up.
When your toddler is on the potty, reading a story, singing songs or letting him fiddle with a small toy can reduce anxiety and make the experience more pleasant. Never force your tyke to use the potty. If he seems frustrated or resistant, stop and try again later.
Use a reward system such as a sticker chart. Every time your toddler uses the potty, let her place a sticker on her chart. When the chart is full of stickers, reward her with a coloring book, a small toy or an ice cream cone.
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that major changes in the home can make potty training more difficult. Consider delaying the process if there is a crisis in the family such as a death, illness or divorce.