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It’s Potty Time: 7 Potty Training Tips (For Parents)

Potty training is a big milestone in your little one’s life. And to be honest, it can be a huge milestone in your life, too! Just imagine, no more paying for costly diapers and wipes.

Many children start showing signs of readiness between 22 to 30 months of age; however, others may not be ready until three years old.

Although it is tempting to rush them into potty training, Rebecca Moran, MD, family practice physician at Banner Health Clinic, cautions parents not to focus on age but rather ability and desire. Rushing can lead to several problems she says.

“Attempting to potty train before a child is ready can lead to potty-training resistance, refusal to go and even anxiety about the whole process,” Dr. Moran says. “Children might try to hold their urine or stool, which can increase the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and constipation. It’s important to wait until they are willing and able to go on their own."

When the time is right, here are seven tips to ensure potty training success:

1. Gather Supplies

  • A potty chair. Place it in a convenient, easy to-get-to location where your child spends most of their time.
  • Paper towels and sanitary wipes to clean up accidents.
  • Loose, easy-to-remove clothing.
  • Big kid undies: Have your little one pick out special big kid underwear.
  • Nighttime pull-ups. Nighttime training typically takes longer to achieve (ages 5 to 7), so use disposable training pants and mattress covers when they sleep.
  • Small rewards that work for your child, such as a star chart or stickers.

2. Educate

  • Borrow or purchase potty-training books to read to your child.
  • Show your child by using the bathroom yourself and celebrate when you are done.
  • Girls: Show them how to spread their legs and wipe front to back to prevent germs.
  • Boys: Your little man may not get the hang of urinating standing up, so it is perfectly OK to sit and tuck until they get the hang of it.

3. Positive Reinforcement

Set up a reward or sticker chart for successful attempts. Don’t get upset if they have accidents. Instead say, “It’s OK; accidents happen” and clean up the mess.

4. Reduce Potty Fears

It’s perfectly normal for your child to have fears. If it’s the noise of the toilet flushing or the size of the toilet that feels too overwhelming, get a smaller portable potty for them to learn on.

5. Potty Resistance

If you see any resistance, discontinue for a few weeks or months. Continue to discuss toilet training and invite your child to imitate behavior by inviting them to the bathroom with you. Remember this is an area they can control. You can’t force them to go until they are ready to go.

6. Constipation

If constipation is present, make sure it is treated prior to starting potty training. Hard, painful stools can lead to anxiety around potty training. Increase fiber and water in their diet and decrease dairy products to help keep stools softer.

7. If at First, They Don’t Succeed … It’s OK

If progress isn’t being made, discontinue training for a few weeks or months. Don’t worry. They won’t go off to college still wearing training pants. Every child is different and will potty train on their own time. Just have patience.

“I encourage you to speak with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns surrounding toilet training,” Dr. Moran says.

To speak with a Banner Health specialist, visit bannerhealth.com.

Children's Health Parenting
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