As a Healthy Babies, Healthy Children Public Health Nurse, parents often tell me they are worried about toilet training. I have always thought that “toilet training” should be called “toilet learning”. Training implies parents have control over their child’s toileting when our kid’s bodies are in control!
Your child’s success with bladder and bowel control has more to do with the growth and development of their body than any special training. Their body has to be ready to learn! Most children are ready for toilet learning between 2 and 4 years old.
Be patient, it can take weeks to months before a child is mostly dry.
So, how do we know they are ready for toilet learning?
Are they READY questions:
- Has my child been dry for several hours at a time?
- Does my child feel uncomfortable in wet or dirty diapers?
- Does my child know when they need to go or notice when they are going?
- Can my child understand simple directions?
- Can my child ask/gesture to go the bathroom?
- Is my child interested in the toilet, potty or big kid underwear?
If you answered yes, you and your child may be ready to start toilet learning.
Four P’s for success in toileting:
- Potty talk.
Start talking about you noticing that you have to go to the bathroom, “Oh, I feel like I need to go pee”. Talk about going to the bathroom to go pee. Read lots of potty books. Here’s a few from Toronto Public Library.
Praise when they listen to their body when they notice that they are peeing. Praise attempts at sitting on the potty. Plan for accidents with a change of clothes and stay positive (there is always next time!).
- Practice & Routines.
Make a morning bathroom stop. Often after eating, our bodies will signal us to go to the bathroom. Try to build a bathroom stop after meal time. Try diaper free mornings where we wear underwear instead of a diaper. Hint: this is easier in the summer when you can be outside.
Toilet learning can take a while. If your child becomes upset at the idea of going to the potty, ask yourself the Are you Ready questions again and take a toileting holiday.
Remember, even two children from the same family can reach success at different ages!
Where can I go to get more information?
- Toilet Training
- Nobody’s Perfect program
- Talking to your child about their body
- Your family doctor or health care provider
- Toronto Public Health eChat or call (416) 338-7600