Potty training is another major milestone that you and your baby will reach together. Make the transition stress-free and fun for your baby, so she doesn’t associate this natural process with punishment or upsetting you. Some babies aren’t ready to toilet train until they reach 2, 3, or even 4, years of age.
Observe your child before making the decision to potty train. If he isn’t developmentally ready, he isn’t likely to succeed. If he can follow simple commands, such as throwing away garbage or getting a specific toy, he should be able to follow your “go to the potty” prompts. When your child becomes aware of his bodily functions, such as coming to you for a diaper change, he’s likely ready to progress to potty training. Avoid trying to potty train your child if there is a major change or stress in his life, such as a new sibling.
Put your baby in training underwear so she feels the sensations of being wet and soiled. Although it’s easier to change a diaper, she won’t have the same sensations when she soils a diaper. Feeling a different material against her body is another indicator of change. Talk to your baby about how good it feels to be dry in her panties. Let your baby observe you when you go potty, and explain what you’re doing and how nice it feels to be dry.
Purchase a book about going potty to read to your child. Having labels and words for her body parts and what she’s doing will help her to feel okay about the process. You have to be comfortable saying “vagina” or “penis” or your child will pick up on it and feel there is something wrong or shameful about her private parts and using the bathroom.
Let your baby run around naked–or nearly naked–while she’s getting used to using a potty. Clothing restrictions might make it difficult to use the potty, even if she makes it to the chair on time. Gradually increase her layers until she’s dressed normally and can still use the restroom.
Keep a chart to mark down the times your baby tends to use the bathroom, particularly bowel movements. You may notice a pattern over the course of a few days that will help you prompt him to sit on the potty. For examples, many babies tend to use the bathroom within 30 minutes of eating breakfast.
Set a timer at 10-, 20- or 30-minute intervals. Take your toddler to the toilet each time the timer goes off. Gradually, increase the amount of time between toilet visits until he’s able to go on his own before the timer goes off, or inform you he doesn’t have to go when it does go off.
Take your toddler shopping when you feel it’s time to start potty training. Help him pick out his own potty chair or seat and underwear. He’s more likely to go on his own if it’s on his terms. A portable potty seat can be kept in the room he plays in so it’s convenient for him to use it when he needs it. Progressively move the chair closer to the bathroom as long as he’s successful in getting to the chair on time.
Different rewards work for different children. Find a reward that works for your toddler, based on her interests and personality, as well as your parenting style. Use verbal praise if you don’t believe in rewarding your baby with treats or toys. If you do opt to use little incentives, pair them with verbal praise. Babies like to know you’re pleased with them.
Offer your baby a penny each time she pees or two each time she poops, if she understands the concept of money. Fill a jar or piggy bank–letting her physically drop the coins in–so she can see her progress.
Let your child choose two bite-sized candies each time she goes potty. Double it for bowel movements.
Fill a bag or container with inexpensive toys or treats, such as dollar store or kid’s meal toys. Allow her to pick a treat each time she successfully uses the potty on her own.
Fill a sticker chart or put stickers directly on your baby’s clothes each time she goes.
Give her a few special books that she gets to read or look at only when she’s on the potty. If she isn’t into books, give her a special toy that she can play with while she’s on the toilet.