Potty Training: What's Normal And What's Not

Potty Training: What's Normal And What's Not

Potty Training: What's Normal And What's Not

Potty training can be difficult for both parent and child. Just when you think you’ve mastered it, your child may do something completely unexpected that makes you second-guess throwing out all those old diapers after all.  But most of the time, the things you may be worried about are completely normal and not a cause for concern.

Read on for explanations on typical potty training setbacks, and what you can do about them.

“My daughter was doing great, but recently has wanted had a lot of trouble staying dry and is asking to use diapers again. What’s going on?” 

This is called regression and is completely normal. There is no single cause of regression, but it can often happen in times of transition. Is there a new sibling in the house, new school, or other changes happening? These types of changes can cause a potential regression in potty training.  The answer could also be medical – many kids with constipation have bladder leaks. Talk with your doctor if you think your child may be constipated to see what you can do to fix the problem. Sticking with your potty training routine is key to reverse the regression – inconsistency will only cause the regression to last longer. So keep up the timed potty usage (every 2 hours is a good rule to follow), make sure to have your child go before going out and before bed.  Find ways to motivate her to use the potty again – sticker charts, treasure boxes, or other rewards usually work great. Be patient with her and before you know it she’ll be back on track.

“My son has been completely dry during the day from months but still continues to wet the bed at night.”

It is very common for children to master daytime use of the potty first. Staying dry through the night typically comes a while after that, sometimes even years after.  Nighttime training should be looked at as “round 2” of potty training. It is much harder for children to master than daytime dryness, and some children simply take a little longer to develop the physical changes needed to stay dry at night. 

Once your child has been able to wake up dry five mornings in a row, it’s a good time to let him try wearing underwear to bed (be sure to use protective bedding, such as plastic bedcovers or waterproof pads). But don’t pressure him, and don’t reprimand him if he has an accident – bedwetting is involuntary and not their fault.  And if he starts having more accidents at night, don’t be afraid to go back to pull ups. He may just need a little more time to develop.

“My daughter seems to have random accidents all the time, even though she has been potty trained for a while.”

Accidents will happen from time to time, and that’s completely normal. Many kids will actually put off going, or simply forget about it, because they are too absorbed with playing.  The easiest way to fix this is to keep her on a schedule – take regular potty breaks, and ask her periodically if she needs to go. You can also watch for cues that she may need to go - holding herself or dancing around - and take her to the bathroom if she’s demonstrating any.  Consistency is key and often just little reminders can help remedy the issue.

“My son is 3 and shows absolutely no interest in using the potty. Will he ever be ready?”

Every child is different and kids become ready for potty training at different times – there is no hard and fast rule that says a child should be potty trained by a certain age. Be patient with your child and try to encourage his interest by reading him books about the potty, taking him to the bathroom when you need to go (or seeing that Daddy goes too!) buying new “big boy undies” and even familiarizing him with a training potty. Don’t push him – it is harder to train a child who isn’t ready and will only cause frustration for you both. Don’t worry – he’ll get their in his own time.

Above all, with any of the issues above, try your hardest to not reprimand your child when he or she has an accident. Potty training is a huge milestone for kids and making them feel bad can cause real setbacks in their training (and resistance from your child). Be understanding when they have an accident, and praise them when they succeed. More than anything, they need to know that you are on their team and are rooting for their success.

NAFC's Top 10 Tips For Potty Training Your Toddler

NAFC's Top 10 Tips For Potty Training Your Toddler

NAFC's Top 10 Tips For Potty Training Your Toddler

Teaching your child to use the potty is a big challenge, but it also comes with big rewards. No more diapers, more independence for your little one, and maybe even a bit more sanity for you at the end of the day.

But where do you start? And when? These answers will vary from family to family because (as we’re sure you know by now, every child is different) what works for some kids may not work for everyone. But, as long as your child seems ready to start trying, (2.5 – 3 is an average age for kids to start, although some may be ready to start as early as 18 months) give some of the tips below a try. Before you know it, you’re little one will be a pro on the potty

Tip #1:  Make sure they are ready.

Look for clues that your child is ready to start this process. Things like asking to be changed, showing an interest in bathroom habits (even yours!), and telling you when they have to go to the bathroom are good signs that they may be ready to start trying.

Tip #2: Get them comfortable.

Some kids have a fear of the toilet –them their own training potty that is just their size will not only make it feel more comfortable for them, they can practice sitting in it in other, more comfortable places your home to really make them feel at ease and prepare them for the next step – actually going!

Tip #3: Let them go naked.

Part of the problem with potty training in a pull-up is that it’s not that much different than a diaper. And kids are typically so used to going in their diaper they may not even remember or think to tell you when they have to use the potty. When they’re naked, they have no choice. Start by letting them be naked for a bit before or after bathtime and encourage them to try to use the potty. Then, when you’re feeling brave enough, let them go for longer, extended periods when you’re home. (But be sure to expect a few accidents along the way as they get used to knowing when they have to go.) Most kids don’t want to have an accident so after one or two, they’ll typically start telling you when they have to go.

Tip #4: Schedule regular potty time.

This can be a time consuming process, but scheduling potty time every 20-30 minutes can be really helpful in helping a child learn. It gives them plenty of practice using the restroom and helps set them up for success by instilling mandatory potty breaks in short intervals. The more they are able to successfully go on their own, the more likely they will be to continue.

Tip #5: Rewards.

We hate to say it, but bribes work. Giving your child a small reward each time they successfully use the potty can be a huge motivator for them. Some families choose sweet treats (M&M’s are a favorite), but you don’t have to resort to sugar to make this work. Fill a box with small inexpensive toys (stickers, erasers, etc.) and let your child choose from the box after a pre-defined number of successful potty trips. Get some cool “big-kid underwear” as an incentive for getting out of pull ups. Kids also love to see their progress so using something like a sticker chart where they can track their success over time can be a great motivator.

Tip #6: Read to them.

It can sometimes be hard to get kids to stay on the potty long enough for them to actually go. Reading can be a huge help. Pick out some favorite books, or some get a few new ones from the library, and read to your little one during their scheduled potty times. They’ll start to look forward to going, and you’ll be getting in some extra reading time at the same time! Win-win!

Tip #7: Praise their progress.

Kids, just like adults, love to hear that they’re doing a good job. Praise their accomplishments and their efforts to keep their momentum going, and to encourage them when they’re feeling frustrated.

Tip #8: All or nothing.

Try just putting them in underwear for a long weekend and see what happens. Some parents swear by this method, although it’s not for everyone. This usually works best if you have a dedicated few days where you can commit to staying at home (and are comfortable with cleaning up a few messes).

Tip #9: Be prepared for a possible regression.

Sometimes kids can be doing great with potty training, only to have a setback after a few months. This is normal and shouldn’t be anything to worry about. Be understanding with your child – showing your frustrations can only make them feel worse and may lead to more accidents. Try to figure out why the setbacks are occurring (is your family going through a transition in any way or does your child have any medical issues, like constipation, that could be causing the regression). Once things have settled down or you’ve identified and treated the problem, your child should return to potty training again.

Tip #10: Be patient.

Remember that potty training is a process, and, despite some programs that claim they will potty train in a short amount of time, it often takes several weeks to months for your child to become dry regularly. Be patient with them as they learn to master this and provide as much love and support as you can to help them along.

Have any of your own potty training tips to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below!

When Should You Start Potty Training Your Toddler?

When Should You Start Potty Training Your Toddler?

When Should You Start Potty Training Your Toddler?

Potty Training your little one is a big step, and one that can happen at different times for different kids.  There is no one magic timeline since each child is unique. Some toddlers are ready to begin the process as early as 18 months, although a very small percentage of children under 24 months are fully potty trained. Two and a half, or even three years old, is a typical age for kids to start.

Look for the following signs to see if your child is ready to start potty training.

  1. They show interest in the bathroom. Is your child telling you when they are wet? Do they want to watch you go to the bathroom? Are they asking to wear underwear or big-kids pants? These are all signs that they are may be ready to start potty training.
  2. Their patterns become more regular. They have bowel movements at about the same time each day, no bowel movements at night, and can go for at least a couple of hours at a time without having a wet diaper, which means their bladder muscles are able to hold urine.
  3. They are emotionally ready. Kids who have no interest in using the potty, don’t want to wear underwear, and generally don’t mind being in a wet diaper are probably not yet ready to start the process. 
  4. They are physically ready. It takes some coordination to use the toilet. Kids must be able to walk, sit down, remove clothing, climb up to the toilet, and tell their parent or caregiver that they need to use the potty.

It’s important to reiterate that every child is different and to follow your child’s lead. Girls are often potty trained faster than boys. And if you have multiple children, younger siblings may benefit from seeing their older siblings go through the process, making it go more quickly for them. But watch for the signs listed above - starting to potty train before your child is ready will cause frustrations for you both, and will often take longer than if you had waited for them to show more interest.  Also know that it’s common for a child to master using the potty during the day, but still have some trouble staying dry at night. Nightime training often takes a bit longer– sometimes even a few years after daytime dryness has been established.

Think your little one is ready to start easing their way out of diapers? Here are our best tips for successful potty training.