How to Potty Train Girls at 18 Months

Ready to ditch the diapers already? Starting the potty training process as early as possible seems highly appealing to many. Potty training girls at 18 months can be accomplished, but keep in mind that each child develops at a different pace. Trying to push your child into potty training too early can actually backfire, so be sure your daughter is ready for this milestone before offering gentle encouragement to ease her into big-girl pants 1. If your child is showing an interest in potty training, following a few steps can move the process along.

Be sure that your 18-month-old is ready to potty train. There's more to potty training than just learning to use the toilet; your toddler must also be able to come to a conscious realization that she needs to go potty, and she must also be able to control her muscles enough to "hold it" until she gets to the toilet. These developments can come in girls anytime between 18 months and 24 months. Some girls just aren't ready for potty training at 18 months, so if she doesn't seem interested, don't push the issue 1.

Let your child watch others in action. One option is to make a big deal about mommy and daddy using the potty and explaining what you're doing. She'll learn that using the toilet is a good thing and will be eager to try it out herself. You can also show her the ropes of potty training by pretending that one of her favorite dolls or stuffed animals is using the potty. Once she sees that everyone else is doing it, she'll be quick to jump on the bandwagon.

Make sure the toilet is a comfortable place. You can do this by buying a toddler-sized potty that sits by itself on the floor or by picking up an adapter seat for the family toilet. If you choose the adapter, give her a step stool to rest her feet on, which will help her feel more stable and will also encourage relaxation of her pelvic muscles.

Whether your 18-month-old girl has a toddler potty or adapter seat, let her pick out the seat she wants (there are many choices out there, some of which might include her favorite characters) and decorate it to her liking with stickers or drawings.

Also, to help her get comfortable with the idea of using the potty, let her sit on the toilet fully clothed a few times so she can see there's nothing to fear.

Give her plenty of motivation. Pick up some cool panties that she can wear when she's using the potty like a "big girl," and reward her with praise when she does use the potty. Some experts advise against offering rewards of food or candy during potty training, but big hugs and plenty of proud exclamations can go a long way toward convincing your little girl to potty train as early as 18 months.

Give gentle reminders. Take her to sit on the potty every 30 to 60 minutes, whether she says she has to go or not. At this early stage, play time can easily distract her from remembering to use the big girl potty before it's too late. If she doesn't have to use the potty once you get there, though, don't force her to stay there or she'll start to see potty time as a negative thing.

Have her sit in the right position. To avoid messy sprays, have your little girl sit back far enough so that she's positioned squarely over the toilet opening. Also teach her to spread her knees apart, which also helps relax her pelvic muscles, making it easier to go to the bathroom.

Teach her to clean up properly. Unlike boys, girls need to wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from her bottom to her vagina. Let her watch Mommy wipe and then show her how to do it herself.

Also, get in the habit of washing hands after using the potty. Doing so right away will help encourage lifelong habits of automatically washing hands after using the bathroom.

Let her run free. Let your daughter spend some time sans diaper, with easy access to the toilet. Let her know that it's up to her to head to the potty when she has to go but still keep an eye on her to watch for clues that she needs to relieve herself (like crossing her legs or jumping up and down). If you spot those signs, gently direct her to the potty. If she has an accident before she gets there, just clean her up and remind her that she needs to use the potty next time. Scolding for mistakes can cause embarrassment and lead to setbacks in your potty training schedule 1.

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