Potty training can be a huge step for your little one as well as for you.
It is the first real task that requires coordination of various components of development like his gross and fine motor skills, communication skills, and cognitive skills.
Starting potty training at the right age ensures that your child learns this task in a healthy constructive manner that can lay the foundation for learning many more skills to come.
This potty training preparation guide focuses on small training tasks that you can exercise and incorporate into your daily routine. This potty training preparation is not only for your little one but also for you as a parent.
If you are unsure if you and your child are ready to take the huge step, you can take our potty training readiness quiz to check your child’s readiness.
What is Pre-Potty training?
Pre-Potty training is a preparatory phase that lays the foundation for efficient potty training. This is the phase that you prepare yourself and your child for the events to come by providing them the right tools.
Imagine being a gardener your whole life and then suddenly someone hands you a hammer and asks you to build a ship overnight. That is how your child is going to feel if he is not prepared for what’s to come.
Building up your child’s skills gradually will make the herculean task of potty training smooth sailing and more importantly an enjoyable experience.
When can I start Toilet training preparation or Pre-Potty training?
Pre-potty training preparation can begin as early as 12 months.
Remember this is just a preparation phase and not actual potty training. It doesn’t involve any potty chair yet.
We do not recommend any form of pre-potty training before 12 months of age.
This is ideally a time your child is able to understand the cues that his body is presenting and is starting to learn to connect these cues to the required action.
You can gradually transition from Pre-potty training to Potty training between 20 and 24 months.
How can I prepare for potty training?
1. Recognising potty needs
A Child’s overall development helps him achieve a gradual understanding of the process of toilet training.
After 12 months of age, a child can recognise bladder or bowel movements as a ‘sensation of fullness’. While the child still lacks the sphincter control to delay the process or master control, it is no longer a passive elimination process.
At this phase, your child will not only recognise an oncoming event by also show signs that she is ready to potty.
These signs can usually be grunting noises, typical facies or postures, and often a combination of all of the above.
As a parent, you will be able to recognise these signs shown by your child as well. As and when you recognise an oncoming event you can reinforce this awareness by talking to your child.
Remember, Every diaper change is an opportunity to teach your child.
Use sentences like,
“look who has made a pee-pee in her diapers”,
“Looks like someone made poo-poo, mommy makes poo-poo in the toilet.”
2. Teach your child the toilet vocabulary.
During every diaper change use the right vocabulary and describe the process.
Use words in your own language that is equivalent of wet, dry, urine, stools, toilet, wash, flush, wipe, body parts, tasks involved in toileting etc,.
Whatever words you use during the training process it is best to stick to them to avoid confusing your child.
There are many synonymous words for toileting, use the simplest and most basic ones that are simple enough for your child to remember and repeat.
3. Do diaper changes in the toilet
If it permits try to do diaper changes in the toilet. This will create an association between the toilet, and the diaper and its contents.
Children often learn by association. Many parents struggle with children exhibiting chronic stool or urine withholding behavior mainly because of the lack of comfort and association between various components of toileting.
Establishing this connection early helps you eliminate any scope for non-cooperation that may come in the future.
4. Train your child to carry out simple instructions.
Toilet training involves the child being able to understand and follow simple instructions like “let’s go to the potty”, “lower your pants”, “sit on the potty”.
You can train your child to carry out simple tasks like asking them to bring a particular toy, asking them to place the toy in a box.
Make sure to use simple words with animated actions to ensure they understand the instructions. If your child doesn’t follow the instructions make sure to manually guide them to carry out the task.
For example, if you ask her to place the toy in a box and for some reason, she doesn’t understand or just chooses to ignore you, manually help her to put the toy in the box whilst narrating the instructions. Make sure you don’t over-emphasize or stress too much.
Calm repetition is a better reinforcer than too much assertion.
Do not allow the instructions to be unfulfilled. Use gentle playfulness to complete the task.
Praise and reward your child with affection and love when he completes the task, even if you had to manually guide him.
5. Use potty training visual aides.
There are several visual aides that can help you teach all the skills necessary to prepare your child for potty training.
Potty training dolls and potty training board books are an excellent way to teach your child toilet vocabulary and tasks involved in toileting.
Many parents start using books like these after a failed attempt to toilet train. While it is still a good idea to do so, the best time to use them is in the preparation phase.
6. Educate yourself
Many parents either make too much fuss about toilet training or none at all. This spectrum of all or nothing can become challenging for your child.
There are many methods of toilet training and the only person to decide which one works best is you and your child.
All methods of toilet training boast success of their own. This could only become confusing for a parent.
Read and explore your options and decide on one or even a combination of multiple methods whichever suits you and most importantly your child.
7. Prepare yourself
A parent or a caregiver will require much more preparation than the child himself.
While educating about toilet training and its Dos and don’t is part of the preparation, training your response is equally important too.
Any skill takes time to learn. Just like your child took months to master sitting standing or walking he is also going to take much longer to learn a skill that doesn’t come naturally to him.
Rushing the whole process can only make your child feel threatened and non-cooperative in the long run. This will only prolong the process all the while making it a huge struggle for the both of you.
So be patient, take one step at a time, and don’t expect to our child to be trained overnight.
Be reasonable and considerate
Every child is unique and so are their learning abilities.
While your neighbour’s son or your third cousin’s daughter may have miraculously mastered toilet training overnight, your child is going to need your continued patience and affection to be guided through this task.
Over 90% of children are toilet trained by the age of 4 years. Every adult you see is toilet trained! so your child is going to be too.
Children thrive on consistency. Any skill or brhavious modification that you desire from them is achievable only when they are consistently guided towards desired results.
While parenting advice is one too many, decide ahead on the method and stick to it. You are more likely to see toilet training success if you are consistent and avoid confusing the child.
8. Involve and educate your partner, close family members and caregivers.
Toilet training is a long-drawn process that can become overwhelming if carried and overseen by just one parent whether it’s the mother like in most cases or the father.
A child is cared for to varying degrees by various family members like grandparents, baby-sitters, nannies, and daycare members.
As children thrive on consistently educate your family members and child’s caregivers on the method you are comfortable with and ask them to follow the same in your absence.
9. Lay some ground rules
There are several aspects of toilet training that differ from parent to parent as well as from generation to generation.
Lay some ground rules based on the method you choose . This is not only for others also a reminder for you too.
10. Gather your supplies.
This should be the last phase of your preparation.
It is wise to invest in some Potty training supplies that will come in handy during the next phase. You may some or all of the following.
- Toilet training guide.
- Toilet seat
- Training pants
- Toilet training dolls
- Board books on toilet trainin