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How to prepare your toddler for potty training

There are lots of different approaches to potty training, all with their pros and cons. But sometimes, what you do in the lead up to potty training is more important than the actual potty training. Here, we’ll be sharing our top tips for preparing your little one.

First things first, getting your timing right with potty training is everything. Here are some to consider to make sure you choose a prime time:

  • Are you planning any trips away? It will probably be easier to potty train while at home.
  • What’s the weather like? It’s useful to have the sun as we can guarantee a lot of washing and drying of clothes!
  • Is your child transitioning from a cot to a toddler bed, weaning from breastfeeding, or no longer using a dummy?
  • Are they ill?
  • Are they transitioning to life with a new sibling?
  • Are they moving house or moving nursery?

Too many big steps at once can be overwhelming for little ones, so it’s a good idea to spread them out a little bit if you can. With that said, there’s plenty you can do to make potty training as smooth as possible.

1. Narrate your child’s nappy changes

This will help them get familiar with terms like ‘wee’, ‘poo’, ‘wet nappy’, and ‘toilet’ and also associate these words with that feeling of being wet or dirty. If possible, change nappies in the bathroom to help your toddler make clear connections between their nappy and the toilet.

2. Introduce through play

Reading books together about going to the toilet can really help your little one feel more comfortable about the subject. You can also play potty with dolls and teddies, going through the bathroom routine one step at a time, e.g. ‘Teddy needs a wee. Teddy needs to pull his trousers down first.’

3. Lead by example

Let your child watch you go to the toilet. You don’t need to massively draw attention, but seeing you do a wee, flush the toilet and wash your hands in a calm way will help them understand that it’s normal and nothing to be frightened of.

4. Leave a potty where your child can see it

Introducing a potty to your toddler’s normal surroundings will help them get used to it before there’s any pressure to use it. You can point it out, explain it, and even ask them if they’d like to sit on it. But don’t worry if they don’t!

5. Start off with a wee

Sometimes toddlers get very overwhelmed by the idea of pooing on the potty. Encouraging them to wee will help build their confidence.

6. Predict when they’ll need it

If your child generally does poos at the same time every day, leave their nappy off and suggest they sit on the potty. If you’re not sure, after meal times is usually a good shout as digesting food often kicks off the urge to poo.

7. Dress for success

Dungarees are freakin’ adorable, sure, but a nightmare when it comes to potty training. Go for trousers or leggings that pull up and down easily without any buttons or zips, and dresses are also great. And if you’re around the house all day, consider just allowing your little one to go bare-bottomed. It’ll help them be more aware and also give you more time when you’re rushing to the potty!

8. Evaluate if it’s the right time

Now you’ve done some prep, take a step back and ask yourself if your little one is taking to the toilet cues well. If it’s feeling like an uphill battle, it might be time to take the pressure off, return to nappies, and try again after a break.