How to Potty Train Your Child
Getting your kids out of diapers can be a frustrating—but ultimately rewarding—task. Here’s how to make the experience as smooth as possible.
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Make a Tool Kit
One of the biggest challenges of potty training is figuring out how to prevent accidents. They’re messy, time-consuming situations that no parent is thrilled to deal with.
“To alleviate this, parents need to make sure they have all the supplies needed to be successful, as well as a clear plan of action before they begin, rather than the ‘let’s just wing it’ approach,” says Kaylee Sallak, founder of Parenting Made Joyful Lifestyle, and teacher of parenting classes at Buy Buy Baby.
Sallak recommends the following supplies for your tool kit:
- A small potty chair
- An insert for the big potty
- A squatty potty stool to go under a big potty
- Thick cloth underwear
- Lose pants that have no zippers or buttons
- A timer
- Potty books
- Potty songs
- Tangible rewards (like candy)
- Cleaning supplies ready for messes
- Plastic bags with you always
- Spare clothes with you always
And as for the plan of action? “It needs to be decided upon ahead of time and agreed upon by both parents and any caregiver so there is consistency across the board,” Sallak says. “Whatever approach is selected, it should be a solid three days of no plans whatsoever to focus completely on getting a strong start to potty training.”
Nighttime should have special considerations, according to the experts. Craig Hammond, founder and CEO of Peejamas, functional pajamas designed to eliminate the need for nighttime diapers, recommends establishing a routine at night that includes going to the bathroom before bed and limiting fluid intake in the evening.
“Parents don't need to force their child to completely fast from water or fluids at night, but definitely start winding it down after dinner,” Hammond says. “This helps to limit fluid building in the bladder, potentially leading to a release during the night. Coupled with the routine of going potty prior to bed, this will help your child learn.”
Hammond also recommends—if possible—not using a diaper at night, just as your child wouldn’t in the day time during potty training.
“Putting a child back in a diaper during the night, is inconsistent and contrary to the daytime training recommendations,” Hammond says. “Of course, this can lead to potential messes, which there are solutions to avoid that, and may not be realistic for children with individual needs. But if you can do it, it is a much better way to help them really nail the nighttime phase of potty training.”
Potty training your child can be fun and rewarding, but as with all things, should you have any concerns or questions, call your child’s doctor or health-care provider.