From parenting experts to advice from your parents and fellow mom friends, everyone shares an opinion about when and how to potty train a child. Potty training can be a challenge, even for the most seasoned parent, but with an arsenal of time-tested techniques, a few deep breaths and a heaping dose of patience, you can say “goodbye” to diapers and “hello” to a potty-trained toddler.
Make Sure Your Child is Ready
The time frame for potty training a child isn’t one size fits all. Some children begin to show signs of readiness faster than others, so it’s up to you to look out for clues that your child is ready. Baby Center, an online parenting resource, suggests ensuring that your toddler can walk and run without frequent falling, has a “dry” diaper for at least more than three hours, knows how to pull her pants up and down, understands and follows directions, and gives you physical or verbal signs when she needs to use the bathroom.
Use Baby Signs
Many moms teach their babies sign language as a way to communicate with them before they can speak. Linda Acredolo, Ph.D., a parenting adviser credited with developing sign language for babies, says that signing is also effective for parents who are trying to potty train their toddlers. Parents, an online resource for moms and dads, suggests gradually teaching your child the sign for the potty. Do the sign for “potty” by making a fist, placing your thumb in between your pointer and middle fingers, and then shake your fist
Set An Example
While using the bathroom is generally considered a private time, when you’re potty training, invite your child in while you use the bathroom. Children learn by example, so you can use your potty breaks to teach your child what he’s expected to do in the bathroom. Put your child’s potty in the bathroom, and you may notice him mimic your behavior when he follows you inside. Ask Dr. Sears, a parenting website, notes that girls do better with their mothers and boys do better with their fathers, although they can learn with either parent.
Look for Clues
A huge part of proper potty training is discovering your child’s “gotta go” signs. They can range from finding a place to hide, giving you a verbal warning, such as “pee pee,” or you may notice your child squatting. Once your child gives you hints he needs to go, you can direct her to the potty by saying, “Go potty,” “Go pee,” “Go poop,” or whatever phrases you plan to use to encourage bathroom time.
Make a Chart
Create a potty chart to map each time your child goes to the bathroom, whether on the potty, or in his diaper. Ask Dr. Sears suggests doing this for a week or two to determine if there are any patterns in the times your child goes to the bathroom. If you notice a pattern, it can help you identify times to put your child on the potty and encourage him to use it.