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The key to successful toilet training is making sure your child is ready. Her bladder must be fully developed and she must be emotionally ready. This will take patience and understanding on your part.
Teach your child not to wait to have a bowel movement. To create a regular bowel habit, ask her to sit on the toilet for at least 10 minutes at the same time each day.
Usually, girls toilet train earlier than boys. The common age for toilet training is around age 3. Pushing your child to toilet train before she is ready will lead to accidents and power struggles.
Avoid toilet training if your family is under stress, such as planning a move or welcoming a baby.
Use a potty chair when starting toilet training. Always remain calm and give your child lots of encouragement and praise. When she has an accident, encourage her that next time will be better.
Signs your child is ready for toilet training
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your child may be ready for toilet training if she:
- stays dry at least two hours during the day or after a nap
- has regular bowel movements
Toilet training is a good time to teach your child how to wash her hands. Help her wash with soap and warm water. Sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice while washing (about 15 to 20 seconds) so she learns how long to wash.
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- indicates (through words or facial expressions) that she is about to have a bowel movement
- can follow simple directions
- can get undressed
- is uncomfortable wearing a dirty diaper
- asks to use a potty chair
- wants to wear underwear.
How to toilet train
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, toilet train in these steps:
- Tell your child what her body parts are called and how they work.
- Stay away from negative words when taking about urine and feces. Tell your child not to play in the potty chair or toilet.
Your child may have accidents while going through toilet training. If she has many, she may not be ready.
Source: The American Academy of Pediatrics
- Use a potty chair. You may want to let your child watch you or your partner go to the bathroom.
- Let your child tell you when she has to use the toilet. It's OK if this message comes after she wets or soils a diaper. Praise her for telling you.
- If you see your child has to use the toilet, say, "Let's go potty" and lead her to the bathroom right away.
- Keep your child seated on the potty chair only a few minutes at a time. If she has no interest, don't get upset. Try again another time.
- Set up a routine by taking your child to the potty chair every day at the same times.
- Support and encourage your child. Training may take awhile. Give your child lots of positive words, hugs and kisses. Don't punish or discipline her. Toilet training must go at your child's pace.
- Teach her to wipe from front to back. This will help avoid urinary tract infections.
- Teach your child that flushing is normal. Tell her that she cannot be flushed down the toilet.
- Once your child starts using the potty chair, use pull-up type training pants.
- Your child will stay dry during the day sooner than at night. This may happen until she turns 5 years old. If your child has nighttime problems after age 5, talk with your health care provider.