Potty training tips from an expert

by Lisa Lohiser
Ready for Potty Training? Helpful Tips from a Childhood Development Expert
Reading Time: 5 minutes

You’re probably dreaming about not having to change another nappy ever again. You’ve probably also heard all sorts of advice about potty training – whether you wanted it or not. Truthfully, potty training is a process and does require some planning, so you’re in the right place. By educational expert, Lisa Lohiser.

What’s the first step? What do you need? Is my little one even ready to start potty training? Am I ready? Lisa Lohiser, Ed.D., Manager of Early Childhood Development Research at the Fisher-Price Play Lab, has a few tips that should help clear up those questions – all to help make the transition from nappy to big-kid undies much easier.

Ready to potty train?

There are a couple of ways to determine if your toddler is ready to start potty training. The average age is anywhere between 1 ½ – 3 years old. Every child has their own timeline, but you might also want to consider whether it’s the right time for your family. This may not seem like it would factor into your decision, but if you toss trying to do potty training into an already hectic time, your toddler may begin to associate it with a sense of being out of control rather than one of confidence.

I recommend waiting to potty train if you’re moving into a new home or school, welcoming a new sibling to the family or any major disruption to your normal routine. Let things settle down for a couple of months, and then introduce potty training.

Signs your toddler might be ready for potty training: 

  • They stay dry for an hour or two.
  • They give a “look,” grunt or say they have to go.
  • They can understand and follow simple instructions.             
  • They like wearing training pants instead of nappies.         
  • They can handle some simple dressing on their own.
  • They are curious about bathroom habits.

Here are a few tips for when it’s time to prep and gather supplies:

  • Early introductions. Get a Fisher-Price potty before you start training, so your child gets used to having it around.
  • Build excitement. Let your child pick out their own potty in a theme and style that excites them!
  • Give it a dry run. At first, it’s okay to let your toddler sit on the potty and get a feel for it with their clothes on, but reinforce that when it’s time to really go potty, they’ll use it just how you do.
  • Double time. Use the mini potty in the bathroom and have your child practice going when you go.
  • Fast-action outfits. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go, so be sure to dress your child in clothes that they can get out of quickly.
  • Night-time. Toddlers are not able to recognise the need to go potty while sleeping until much later, typically around age 4 or 5, so having them wear a pull-on nappy for sleep will not deter any training you’re working on during the day. Once your little one is mastering potty time during the day, you can begin to focus on nighttime.

From experience, I would suggest these next few tips to help keep the potty training adventure less stressful for you and for your toddler:

  • Stay fresh. When the nappies go, so does that ultra-absorbent barrier. Staying in wet or soiled training pants will lead to unpleasant rashes and tenderness that may cause your child to regress. Keep extra undies and bottoms on hand wherever you’re going.
  • Coordinate your training practice. Be sure to organise your potty plans with any other caregivers so your toddler is receiving the same encouragement and motivation when you’re not around. If say, they’re at daycare and their potty training methods vary a little from home, don’t worry – just continue to stay consistent at home.
  • Have a game plan. Plan for your child’s short attention span by bringing in books, singing a song, playing with easy-to-clean toys, whatever it takes to keep them comfy on the potty.
  • Slow and steady for the win. With any new skill being learned, it takes time to master, and frustration is bound to happen. Your hardworking kiddo will benefit from your patience and encouragement along the way.

How are you feeling? Are you ready to get started or are you reconsidering? This milestone can feel pretty daunting, but it’s also very rewarding. When your little one comes to you, so proud and excited that they’ve used the potty it’s such a wonderful feeling.

Just keep reminding yourself –no kid goes off to high school still wearing nappies, eventually they catch on. Expect some messes and some take-a-deep-breath moments, even laugh a little bit. At the end of the day, you’re instilling in your little one confidence and independence – and that’s something to celebrate. 

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