You can begin potty training whenever your child is ready. Most kids are ready by age three. But children are different from one another. Your 18 month old might ask to use the potty and be dry during the day after a few months, or your two-year-old might resist potty training as though it’s just not a priority.
If your child understands how to use the potty but doesn’t choose to, you might consider trying out some potty training tools.
A small potty chair as an alternative to the family’s full-size toilet will work better for many kids. You can put the potty in the room where your child plays or in the kitchen and let your child use it (dressed) to watch a video or read a book.
Just getting used to the potty chair and feeling positive about it can be a helpful step toward potty training.
Potty training seat
For older or bigger kids, consider a potty seat or training seat that fits onto the toilet. This is a good option with easier cleanup than a potty chair. Some children feel nervous being as high up in the air as the family toilet puts them. If that’s not an issue for your child, you might want a step stool to make it easier for your child to use a training seat.
Some parents swear by a “squatty potty” — a step stool that fits around the toilet. While it is intended for the whole family, some kids find that it makes them more comfortable about using the “big kids’ toilet.”
Toilet training books
Reading books about potty training can be a big help for kids. Some popular choices:
- Everyone Poops by Tarō Gomi
- Koko Bear’s New Potty by Vicki Lansky
- The Princess and the Potty by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
- Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel
- Diapers Are Not Forever by Elizabeth Verdick
“Big girl panties” or “big boy underpants” can be a great reward for there child who is learning to use the toilet. Contemporary Pediatrics suggests taking your child to buy underwear after he or she has successfully used the potty 10 times.
Let your child choose a pair of underpants and leave it out where it can be seen. As with all potty training efforts, a positive approach is the way to go. The underwear should be an exciting reward, not a source of stress. Avoid saying things like, “I guess you still can’t wear your underwear” or “You’re never going to get to use those underpants.”
A chart with stars can encourage kids in their potty training journey. Some parents divide the chart up, giving a star for steps along the way, such as
- Decide to go potty
- Go fast!
- Use the potty
- Flush the potty
Others give a star for every successful use of the potty.
Your encouragement and admiration are the best rewards, but stickers are a better choice than candy or toys. Excessive external rewards can put the focus on the treats and take it away from the intrinsic reward: getting out of diapers.