safe motherhood


Potty training

For a child to be able to use a potty, he or she needs to have conscious control over their bladder and bowel. In other words, they need to be able to recognise the signs that they are going to do a wee or a poo (these are the words most commonly used with British children) and that they need to hold on until they are in the right place. Most children gain control somewhere between 18 and 36 months, with boys generally taking a little longer than girls.

When is it time to potty train?

Your child may be gaining control when they can:

• Tell you that they've done a wee or a poo and point to their nappy;
• Go for longer intervals between wet nappies and may stay dry after a nap
• Do poos at regular times;
• Pull their clothes up and down by themselves;
• Understand simple instructions.

It can be a good idea to buy a potty and leave it around for your child to discover. Try letting him or her sit on it clothed, then encourage them to sit on it without a nappy, maybe just after you've taken a dirty nappy off. When they have got used to that, you can suggest that they take their nappy off and sit on the potty after a meal. He or she might just do something, although at this stage it will be more by luck than judgement. If he does, and you give him or her lots of praise, they might try a repeat performance.

Suggestions for success

• Try to stay relaxed.
• Give lots of praise.
• Put him or her in clothes that are easy to pull down.
• Have more than one potty so they don't have far to go.
• Start potty training in warm weather so your toddler can run around without nappies or pants.
• Give him or her a small reward for using the potty.

Try to avoid

• Forcing him or her to sit on the potty.
• Showing disgust at potty contents.
• Getting cross with accidents.
• Making them wait when they've asked for the potty.
• Introducing the potty at a time when there are other changes going on in their life.

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