When in doubt, start young!!

While it is the most natural thing that happens to all of us, we hesitate discussing it openly. Embarrassed maybe, shy, more likely. Whatever the reasons, everyone has to “go” and a baby is no exception.

So when to begin potty training your toddler? Or more correctly, what is your task objective? In this instance, it is how you can help train your child to get the timing of when to ‘go’ right. The sooner your toddler learns to synchronise and turn it into a habit the better.

Begin very young

It will seem like a daunting task at first, but there's not much to worry about. It is just that one set of timing doesn’t suit all. When kids want to go on the potty, they will go on the potty. We can’t force the issue. But if you have a specific time in mind to start on potty training, the ideal time to begin is when the baby is able to sit stably for 5 to 10 minutes at a stretch, that’s when you could start.

What else?

Now with that question of “when to start” out of the way, what else should you keep in mind? What are the other signals you must watch out for?

Check to see if your child is staying dry for at least two hours during the day and is dry after her nap. Your child will be the first to know when her diaper is wet.

If she cries, fusses, or shows other signs of discomfort, it is time to go to the loo. Or better still, when you notice a change in her facial expression, there is no better indicator that she is wet down under. If she is able to express verbally, this will makes it even more obvious.

Once she is able to walk, you could request her to walk with you to the bathroom. When inside remove her panty, and make her sit down to do “KaKa”. Coining such audible expressions in any language will be a very good cue for her to initiate the process. Just remember to stick to the same words. The child will register and begins to associate potty time with it.

A word of caution

Bear this advice in mind though. Experts are of an opinion that it is best to avoid initiating potty training during stressful times. If you're moving house, taking a vacation, adding a new baby to the family, defer your potty training decision until about a month after the transitional time. Children pick up new skills faster when they are relaxed and respond positively when it is seen by them as part of a regular routine that is good for them.

Once she is able to walk, you could request her to walk with you to the bathroom. When inside remove her panty, and make her sit down to do “KaKa”. Coining such audible expressions in any language will be a very good cue for her to initiate the process. Just remember to stick to the same words. The child will register and begins to associate potty time with it.

You can’t hurry the slurry

Once you figure out a customized potty training program for your child, it’s important to introduce it systematically. Step by step. Ease your child into it, try not to be pushy. The transition from diapers to toilets needs to be handled gently.

Speak pleasantly to your child about potty timing and training. Doing this often will pique her interest. Keeping a few children’s picture books handy for the child to go through will work as a good assist. Or maybe she likes to listen to music. Whatever comforts her best will be just fine. The idea is to make your child feel familiar with the whole concept of potty time before she is ready to train.

Ritualize a fun routine

Start by having your child sit on the potty every two hours. It does not matter whether she has to go or not. Make this a habit by including this routine as the first thing she does every morning. Include other times as well. Such as, before leaving the house, and before nap and bedtime. Doing this every day will help embed the act in her mind.

Remind your child to remove her shorts or pants first, the underwear next, and to sit on the toilet seat for a few minutes. Allot more time if she decide to poop. Meanwhile, read a book or play a countdown game. The idea is to make the time pass in a fun way.

Winning praise & stars

Accidents happen as some children are unable to stay dry at night until much older. The fact is they’re still learning, and sometimes they just can't help it. Remember, never punish a child for wetting or soiling their pants. However, when your child uses the potty successfully, offer a gentle praise and a small reward.

Think of sticker stars. Every time your child does potty she receives a sticker. Keep count of the stars she wins, and when she earns say, three or more stars, your child gets a small prize. Don’t go overboard with the reward though.

A lot of toddlers may have a reaction to excessive praise. This can have a positive or a negative effect. And making them anxious about it, may hinder some children stop doing the thing they are expected to do altogether. So keep excessive praise under control.

Making potty training work is hard work

Setting up children with good hygiene habits will be a great idea. Whether they actually did potty or not, make them use toilet paper, flush and wash their hands with soap and water. Set this routine right from day one. These habits will last a lifetime and will be passed on to the next generation to come.

Make hand washing fun by buying colourful soaps, and the handwash time should last long enough to make the lather work its germ-fighting magic, 20 seconds will be ideal.

Making potty training work is hard work

You might silently wish for potty training process to be over as soon as possible. But remember, for anything to work and turn into a habit takes time and effort. You just can’t rush it.

Meanwhile you might get to hear about some parents boasting that they were able to train their child over a single weekend, and had no accidents after that. But experts have an altogether different take on these boasts.

The thing to remember is, if your child is truly potty trained, she will just start going on the potty on her own, without even letting you know. Except to announce delightedly when she does it, “Mamma, I did it on my own." That will be the day you will find out your efforts have really paid off!

Good luck.

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