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Toilet Training

The best time to start toilet training is when the child is ready to learn. Most children are ready between 2 and 3 years of age. By this age they are competent, confident, and comfortable enough for successful toilet training. However, children will be ready at their own pace, not when parents or day care centers want them to be. The child's behavior is often a better guide than the child's age.

It is important to be patient with the process. Girls are usually trained faster than boys. Many children, even when toilet trained, do not have nighttime bladder control until the age of 4 or 5. Children often are caught up in what they are doing and forget to take potty breaks. Making the child feel bad when an accident happens adds stress and slows progress.

Watch for signs of readiness. You can probably start toilet training if your child:

  • Is eager to please and imitate you and wants to be independent.
  • Stays dry for at least 2 hours at a time.
  • Wants his diaper changed when it is wet or dirty.
  • Has regular bowel movements at predictable times of the day.
  • Lets you know about the need to go to the bathroom either with words or facial expressions.
  • Is able to pull down diaper or underpants.
  • Can hold back urine and wait a short time to use the toilet.
  • Can get to the potty on his own, and
  • Shows an interest in staying clean.

Try these toilet training tips when your child shows readiness:

  • Have a relaxed attitude.
  • Place your child on the potty seat when he gives signals of needing to go.
  • Use a child size potty chair and start by placing it in the child's play area.
  • Always praise and hug your child for success on the toilet and for sitting quietly and trying, even when not successful.
  • Keep a container of pop-up wipes nearby for easier clean up.
  • Have a boy start out sitting to minimize sprays and dribbles.
  • Sit and read to the child while they sit on the potty.
  • When starting have the child wear just a diaper and no shoes and socks, and
  • Allow your child to pick out their "big boy" or "big girl" underwear after they have used the potty on their own several times.

Make sure to take your child's potty chair with you when traveling. Your goal is to make the process of toilet training as positive and natural as possible. If nap-time or nighttime wetting is still a problem one year after daytime training, talk with your child's healthcare provider.

Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

HIA File pedi3780.htm Release 13/2010

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