Is your child ready? Ask yourself these questions:
- Does your child seem interested in the potty chair or toilet, or in wearing underwear?
- Can your child understand and follow basic directions?
- Does your child tell you through words, facial expressions or posture when he or she needs to go?
- Does your child stay dry for periods of two hours or longer during the day?
- Does your child complain about wet or dirty diapers?
- Can your child pull down his or her pants and pull them up again?
- Can your child sit on and rise from a potty chair?
If you answered mostly yes, your child might be ready for potty training. If you answered mostly no, you might want to wait awhile — especially if your child has recently faced or is about to face a major change, such as a move or the arrival of a new sibling. A toddler who opposes potty training today might be open to the idea in a few months.
Q. My son is 2 1/2 years old and has no interest in using the potty. Is that normal?
A. Most children begin potty training sometime around 18 months to three years of age, so yes, if he is otherwise growing and developing well, it is probably normal that a 2 1/2 year old does not want to use the potty.
You start by briefly whispering a watery
sound such as "sssss" in your baby's ear at potty time to help the child learn
to associate this sound with releasing the sphincter muscles. If it's (nearly)
time to go, infants can release on cue
Infant pottying can be done on a
part-time basis, with or without the use of diapers, and started at any time
before approximately two years. It doesn't need to be overly time-consuming or
to unduly take away from other activities.
Schedule potty breaks
If your child is interested, have him or her sit on the potty chair or toilet without a diaper for a few minutes several times a day. For boys, it's often best to master urination sitting down, and then move to standing up after bowel training is complete.
Get there — fast!
When you notice signs that your child might need to use the toilet — such as squirming, squatting or holding the genital area — respond quickly
Ditch the diapers
After several weeks of successful potty breaks, your child might be ready to trade diapers for training pants or regular underwear.
Most children master daytime bladder control first, often within about two to three months of consistent toilet training. Nap and nighttime training might take months — or years — longer. In the meantime, use disposable training pants or plastic mattress covers when your child sleeps.
• Do switch to pull-ups. When your child is just starting out on the potty, play it safe with the disposable variety. He can pull them down like underpants, but in the event of an accident they absorb like diapers and can be ripped off rather than pulled over his feet.
• Do let him bare his bottom. To boost your child's awareness of his body's signals, allow him to scamper about (in a private yard or room with a washable floor) with his lower half unclad. Why this works: It's hard to ignore urine when there's no diaper to hold it in. Keep the potty close by so your child can act on his body's signals quickly.
• Do offer praise when he reports bodily functions.
• Don't expect too much too soon.
• Don't scold, punish, or shame.
A doctor's case for training later in childhood
By Steve Hodges, M.D. with Suzanne Schlosberg on June 25th, 2012
To understand the risks of early training, it’s important to know that virtually all toileting problems – pee and poop accidents, bedwetting, urinary frequency, and urinary tract infections – are related to chronically holding pee or poop or both.
Chronically holding poop, a problem exacerbated by our kids’ low-fiber diets, compounds the damage. A mass of poop forms in the rectum, right behind the bladder, and can stretch the rectum from about 2 centimeters in diameter to 10 centimeters or more. There’s only so much room in the pelvis, so the bladder gets squeezed out of the way and can’t hold as much urine. What’s more, the nerves controlling the bladder, which run between the bladder and the intestines, can get irritated when the intestines are enlarged, causing unexpected and unwanted bladder contractions – in other words, mad dashes to the toilet and accidents.
Though nobody posts on Facebook, “My kid wet the bed again,” toileting problems are rampant in our culture. Physician visits for constipation have doubled among children in the last decade or so, while hospital visits for constipation have quadrupled. Eight percent of girls have had a urinary tract infection by age 7, accounting for one million annual visits to pediatric clinics and 14 percent of all emergency room physician encounters between young girls and ER docs. Furthermore, about five million kids wet the bed, including about 20 percent of 5-year-olds, 12 percent of 6-year-olds, and 10-percent of 7-year-olds.
Though the data is robust, I believe these numbers are actually underestimates. Since parents tend to believe potty problems are normal, many don’t bother bringing their kids to the doctor.
The reason kids who train at age 2 have more of these problems than children who train later, in my opinion, is that they have spent more months or years deciding for themselves when they should pee or poop – before they’re mature enough to understand the importance of eliminating as soon as they feel the urge. What’s more, the bladder needs about three or four years to grow and develop, and uninhibited voiding (read: diapers) facilitates maximum growth.
Children need reminders to use the toilet about every two hours. (And caretakers should never ask a child if he needs to go potty, because most kids will say no. It’s your job to instruct the child when to go.)