Toilet training s Ready or not? things is a full-time job for most ___ show interest in the toilet or toddlers and toilet learning may potty chair? Learning to use the toilet is a not be as important as learning to ___Are bowel movements regular big event in a young child’s life— climb, jump, run, and talk. A and predictable? (Some a sure sign of growing up. Most toddler who resists toilet training children move their bowels children are eager about learning now may be ready in 3 to 6 two to three times a day; how to use the “potty” and are months, then often learns almost others may go 2 to 3 days quite proud of their achievement. overnight. without a bowel movement.) Toilet teaching is easiest when children are physically and ___Has your toddler asked to emotionally ready, which hap- s How do you tell if wear grown-up underwear? pens between the ages of 2 and 3 your child is ready? If you answered “yes” to most years. Girls usually gain physical of the questions, you may want to control over their bowel and Ask yourself the introduce your child to toilet bladder muscles before boys do. following questions: training. If you answered “no” to On the average, most girls are Can my child: many questions, wait a while potty-trained by age 2 1/ and 2 longer. Rushing a child ___ follow simple directions? most boys around the age of 3. through toilet training ___ remain dry at least 2 hours at But don’t be alarmed if your child will only result in a time during the day? doesn’t follow this pattern closely; tears and frustra- individual children mature physi- ___ walk to and from the bath- tion. In fact, starting cally at different rates. room, pull down pants, pull too soon may pants up? The secret to success is patience actually delay and timing. Emotional readiness Does my child: learning. is also important. Many bright, ___ remain dry during nap time? normal, and healthy 3-year-olds ___ seem uncomfortable with may not be interested in learning soiled or wet diapers? to use the toilet. Learning new Pm-1529k Revised November 2003 When a child is truly ready, toilet use the toilet. If you are comfort- and make it easier for the child to training will seem much easier. able with the idea, it may be a “push” during a bowel movement. good idea to let the child watch The American Academy of Pedi- s Ten steps to toilet you use the toilet. Ideally, fathers atrics suggests that parents avoid should set an example for sons urine deflectors because they can learning and mothers should set an ex- cut a child who is climbing on or Step 1 ample for daughters. Children off a potty chair. You may want to Relax! A calm, easygoing also can learn about bathroom let your child practice sitting on approach to toilet training seems practices from older brothers, the potty fully clothed just to get to work best. Remember that learn- sisters, or relatives. used to the idea. ing to use the toilet takes time and that each child is different. If you Step 3 Step 6 find that one of your children Teach your toddler the words Begin reading potty books to learns to use the toilet at age 2 your family uses for body parts, your child. There are many and another learns at age 3 1/2, rest urine, and bowel movements. wonderful books about learning assured that you are not alone. Make sure it’s a word you feel to use the potty at your local comfortable with because others library or bookstore. Reading a Step 2 are sure to hear it. There is book together helps children Show children what they are nothing quite like a toddler understand the general process and to do in the bathroom. Toddlers loudly announcing in the check- that other children also learn to love to imitate adults or older out lane of the grocery store that use the potty. Book suggestions are children. Next time your toddler it’s time to go “Poo Poo!” listed later on in this publication. follows you into the bathroom, talk about what you do when you Step 4 Step 7 Help your child recognize Purchase training pants and when he or she is urinating or easy-to-remove clothing. Just having a bowel movement. getting to the potty on time is a Most children will grunt, squat, major task for most children. You turn red in the face, or simply can help make the job easier by stop playing for a moment. letting them wear pants that are Children need to be aware that easy to pull down, and by being they are urinating or having a around to assist. Avoid snaps, bowel movement before they can buttons, zippers, and belts. Some do anything about it. For most parents prefer to use diapers or children, bowel movements are disposable training pants at first generally easier to recognize. and then switch to cloth training pants when their child is urinating Step 5 in the potty several times a day. Borrow or purchase a potty chair or a potty attachment for Step 8 the toilet. If you purchase a When your child tells you that potty attachment, be sure he or she needs to use the potty, to get one with a footrest. help with clothing and sit the This will allow your child child on the potty for a few to sit more comfortably minutes. Stay with your child. It’s a good idea to keep a few books • If your are anticipating a new with feces or urine; help your close by. Reading a book together baby, moving to a new home, child clean up the mess.Then you both can wash your hands with takes the pressure off for an or another major life event, you soap and water. It is generally a immediate result. may want to wait a few months. good idea to help with clean-up Toilet training is easiest when Step 9 both parent and child can give and flushing during much of the After 4 to 5 minutes, help your toilet training process. it their full attention. child off the potty. Reward with hugs and praise if your child’s • Remember that it’s OK to keep s The big flush your child in diapers or dispos- efforts have been successful. Say Children often have one of two able training pants for sleeping. that he or she can try again later if reactions to flushing. Either they Nighttime control generally the child wasn’t successful. Don’t are fascinated by it (and would be comes many months after be surprised if your child has a willing to do it for hours) or they daytime control. bowel movement or urinates right are quite fearful. Children who after being taken off the toilet. • It may be helpful to use a enjoy flushing will often delight This is not unusual. Accidents plastic mattress cover, table- in emptying the potty chair into and near misses are generally not cloth, or shower curtain be- the toilet, waving bye-bye, and an act of stubbornness. It simply tween the sheet and mattress watching everything “flush takes time to learn this new skill. until children gain nighttime away.” If accidents seem to be frequent, it control. Children who are fearful prefer may be best to hold off and try • Treat accidents casually. Avoid that parents take charge of this toilet training a few months later. punishing, scolding, or sham- process. Before flushing the toilet, ing. Give your child support by make sure the child is off the Step 10 keeping an upbeat, positive potty attachment. Many children Wipe your child carefully. attitude. are not only fearful of the noise Wipe girls from front to back to and swirling water, but also may prevent infection. Teach your child to always wash hands with s Cleaning up think that they will be flushed Children often are quite curi- down too. Reassure your child soap and water after using the potty. ous about bowel movements. If that only body wastes and toilet paper will be flushed away. s More ideas you find your child trying to remove fecal material from the • If possible, plan to devote at toilet, or worse yet “finger paint- least 3 to 4 days to begin toilet ing” with it on the bathroom training. Maintaining the same floor, try to remain calm. Simply routine for 3 to 4 weeks also helps. explain that it’s not OK to play • Some parents find it helpful to establish a routine by putting a child on the toilet for 3 to 4 minutes right after he or she gets up in the morning, before naps, after naps, after meals, and before bedtime. Realize however, that your child will not always use the potty. s A note about s Books for children Going to the Potty, Fred Rogers— Part of the Mister Rogers bedwetting No More Diapers, J.G. Brooks— Neighborhood First Experience A popular book with toddlers. Bedwetting is common in series, this colorful book dis- Toilet training is illustrated children under age 7. Remember cusses toilet training. Photo- through two stories. The first that learning to control the blad- graphs show children of all story is about Johnny and the der generally comes after bowel sizes, ages, and ethnic groups. second is about Susie. The text control. Many children who have KoKo Bear‘s New Potty, Vicki is simple and drawings are in mastered the toileting process Lansky—A “read together” black, white, and orange. during the day may not be able to book with cartoon bear illustra- Your New Potty, Joanna Cole— stay dry at night for many tions. A useful companion to This book tells the story of two months. Most children will Vicki Lansky’s Practical children, Ben and Steffie, who achieve nighttime dryness by age Parenting: Toilet Training. are learning to use their new 5, but one out of four children potties. Illustrated by colorful may continue to wet the bed for photographs. Information for s Books for parents several more years. parents is included in the Parents Book of Toilet Teaching, Bedwetting appears to be introduction. Uses adult terms Joanna Cole related to the size of the bladder, for elimination. Practical Parenting: Toilet Training, the amount of liquid consumed Once Upon a Potty, Alona Vicki Lansky before bedtime, and how soundly Frankel—Simple text with Toilet Learning, Alison Mack the child sleeps. Bedwetting also is more likely to occur when a cartoon-like illustrations. child is ill, excited, or when a Available in both a boy’s and s Read more about it! routine is upset. girl’s version as well as a book For more information about For children who tend to wet and toy package, complete with infants and toddlers, ask for these the bed, it may help to wake them an anatomically correct doll publications at your county once during the night to use the and toy potty. extension office. toilet. An easy time to do this is All By Myself, Anna Grossnickle Understanding Children: Disciplin- just before parents go to bed. Hines—One of the few books ing your toddler, Pm-1529c Persistent bedwetting, particu- that talks about nighttime A Parent’s Guide to Children’s larly after age 7, may be caused dryness. Josie, like most chil- Weight, NCR-374 by an infection or allergy and a dren, has successfully mastered Understanding Children: Fears, physician should be consulted. daytime control, but at night Pm-1529d still needs help from her Ages and Stages, Pm-1530 mother to get to the bathroom. In time she learns how to manage by herself. File: Family life 8 . . . and justice for all The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the Written by Lesia Oesterreich, exten- basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and sion family life specialist. Edited by marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Many materials can be made available in alternative formats for ADA clients. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Office of Muktha Jost. Illustrations by Lonna Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250- Nachtigal. Graphic design by Valerie 9410 or call 202-720-5964. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Stanley R. Johnson, director, Cooperative Dittmer King. Extension Service, Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa.