Toilet training: how to support your child?

In collaboration with Rokiyah Hosen

Relecture professionnelle

As your toddler grows up faster than his shadow, it's time for the big step of potty training. Your baby will be switching from diapers to the potty or toilet, with or without a reducer. The end of diapers is a real subject, and in this article, we'll help you get to grips with it.

Why potty train your child?

Children are generally potty-trained before they start kindergarten. In France, there's a lot of pressure on both parents and children to go to the toilet before the start of the new school year.

First of all, keep in mind that the child must be ready in mind and body before removing his or her diapers. It's not uncommon for them to decide to take off their diapers from one day to the next, without any "accidents". Your role as parents is to help your child grow up confidently, safely and without judgment.

Note that each toddler has his or her own pace of development and will not evolve at the same speed as his or her little friends, as with language and walking, for example. The golden rule is not to pressure your child into potty training, and to bear in mind that he won't become potty trained just to please you!

When your child is finally potty-trained and free of diapers, you'll be able to enjoy :

  • Lightening your budget and saving money on disposable diapers
  • Save an incredible amount oftime by not having to change your son or daughter anymore
  • Anticipating the start of kindergarten and school without diapers
  • Realizing that time flies and that you need to make the most of every moment

When should potty training begin?

First of all, potty training can't be taught! It's a natural, spontaneous process that generally takes place between 2 and a half and 4 years after birth.

It's actually the acquisition of sphincter control, thanks to your toddler's neuromotor and psychological maturation.

Your child will gradually learn to control his perineum and bladder, and to be attentive to his sensations to understand when he needs to relieve himself.

Signs that your little one is ready to say goodbye to diapers are :

  • He feels and understands when his diaper is soiled.
  • He can identify when he pees and poops.
  • He wants to sit on the potty or toilet
  • He is able to keep his diaper dry for two hours or more.
  • He's curious about the subject and likes stories about it
  • He can pull down his pants and diaper by himself and undress without help.
  • Your child asks to go potty
  • Your child no longer likes diaper changes (fights, refuses the diaper, etc.).

There are several ways to initiate autonomy in hygiene.potty training with Montessori.

Our 8 tips for helping your child potty train

You'll soon be able to proclaim loud and clear that your child is potty-trained, but before you do, here are our tips and tricks to make this big change easier. Too much pressure on your child could block him or stress him into refusing to swap his diapers for a pair of panties.

Respect your child's learning rhythm

The ideal moment to start learning is surely the moment chosen by your child.

Our tips for supporting and encouraging your child are :

  • Observe a window of interest and curiosity in the child's behavior in response to requests.
  • Make your child aware of his bowel movements when you change the diaper, without hiding them, and show that they are flushed down the toilet, so that this is integrated as a natural phenomenon.
  • Wait for a quiet period at home, such as the school vacations.
  • Summer is a good time to accompany him, as clothes are easy to take off.
  • Don't force him, and don't start potty training at the same time as moving house, the arrival of a little sister or brother, or a change of daycare...

Establish a potty-training routine with your child

Babies love routines and rituals. It makes them feel secure. Accompany your child to use the toilet or potty at regular times that he or she can identify:

  • after meals ;
  • before snack time;
  • before naps, before going to bed and when waking up;
  • before bath time.

Avoid giving your baby a book or toy while he's sitting on the toilet. You can create a potty-training chart to establish a routine.

Wait 5 minutes to let him empty a stool or pass urine. If nothing happens, let him go back to playing without making any remark or reproach, otherwise the child will be aware that there's an expectation. It's better to say "Ah, that wasn't the time yet, it'll come later", rather than "It's nothing, it's not serious". Get your child toadopt the physiological sitting position on the potty or toilet, for girls and boys alike, even for urination .

Praise your child for his or her cooperation without overdoing it (rather than for the needs themselves) which will have been done in the potty.

Don't insist on potty training

Don't insist that your child go to the potty. Place the potty in an appropriate place , such as the toilet, and explain its purpose . Exceptionally and temporarily, the potty can be used at night when the diaper is being removed. The child needs a clearly identified space and time.

Suggest that he sits on it, or on his doll or cuddly toy. Even when dressed, your child should enjoy sitting on the potty to imitate you or to relieve himself.

Don't forget to encourage your child at every attempt ! Show your child that you trust him ! You can also invent potty training games or give him potty training books or organize themed activities!

Potty training with training pants

When it comes to potty training, be prepared for the occasional accident , even when you think the goal has been reached! The training pants are designed to hold small pee and help your child understand that he needs to go to the potty. The advantage of training pants is that they contain aleak-proof absorbent zone that gives you time to change your child without all the clothes getting wet.

No more diapering your child at night

Removing your child's diapers is a real step towards toilet training at night. For both parents and child. Take your time, and don't put pressure on your little one.

When is it time to go potty at night?

  • He stays dry all day , because he goes to the toilet regularly.
  • His diaper is not full after naps or when he wakes up in the morning.

Always encourage your child to call you when he needs to pee during naps or in the middle of the night, even when he's wearing a diaper.

Help your child wipe at bowel movements

Your child'shygiene is very important. Physiologically, a child cannot wipe his own bottom properly before the age of 4. So he'll need your help. As you wipe your child's bottom, teach him the right gesturesto clean everything and avoid infections, especially in little girls.

The golden rules:

  • Help him until he's independent
  • Little girls should wipe from front to back in a single pass, to avoid stool coming into contact with the vulva.
  • Remember to wash your hands after each trip to the toilet

Don't punish the child for toileting.

Toilet training is a process that can have consequences for your child's behavior and development: Constipation, tummy ache, self-confidence... If he refuses to go to the potty, he's not ready. Don't punish or scold your child for peeing or pooping in his pants or on the floor. You don't want them to feel ashamed, but to know that you trust them!

Don't overdramatize a potty relapse

It's very likely that your child will experience a regression in potty training. He may go to the potty for a while, then decide to stop if he loses interest. His environment can have a big influence on his emotions. Don't overdramatize, it's normal. It's preferable to keep offering potty-training with a probability of "success", to boost the child's self-confidence. Stopping for a while validates that the potty is of no interest.

Who should I talk to if I have doubts about potty training?

If you have any doubts about potty training, don' t panic: there are healthcare professionals who can help! Ask your pediatrician, general practitioner or family doctor for advice.

Psychomotricians are also available and specialized to help your child. It's essential to consult a specialist if your child :

  • Does not yet use the potty or toilet after age 4
  • Doesn't know how to get started with potty suggestions
  • Is constipated, has painful bowel movements or bleeding in the poo
  • when urine is cloudy or smelly (don't forget to give him water)
  • when there is redness or rashes around the vulva of little girls
  • when he has diaper rash

Potty training FAQs

How do you start potty training?

On average, children are potty-trained between the ages of 2 and 4. The best time to start potty training is during the summer vacations, when parents are available.

What are the three essentials for potty training?

For a child to go to the potty or toilet, he or she must be physically capable of controlling the perineum and sphincters through voluntary muscle relaxation. Potty training is also a matter of mindset and confidence, and above all of repeated and multiple experiences!

How do you know when your child is ready to be potty-trained?

Your child is ready to be potty-trained as soon as he knows when his diaper is wet, wants to sit on the potty or toilet, is curious about the subject or asks to go potty!

What's the ideal age for diaper removal?

There's no ideal age for removing your baby's diapers. It's a process that should be stress-free as soon as your baby is physically and psychologically ready. However, if after the age of 5 your little one is still not potty-trained, consult your paediatrician!

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