Potty training is regarded as a key developmental milestone for young children, which parents often remember and celebrate (usually with a few funny stories to tell and we can certainly think of a few). And rightfully so, as it can be an exciting time to see your little one increase in independence and develop new skills.
The golden question that parents love to ask is, how long does potty training take? The short answer is that the time varies from child to child. However, three months is a good length of time to aim for. Today, we will break down our tips and advice, to make potty training as smooth a process as possible!
It is best to wait until your child is ready. There are several signs you can be looking out for to ensure your little one is prepared to transition from nappies, such as beginning to fidget before they need the toilet and attempting to be discrete and to hide or tugging at their nappy to show their discomfort.
However, there are also some benchmarks in place, that may be useful to refer back to. The average age for potty training is 27 months, with children typically beginning to have dry nappies during the day at the age of 2, which increases to 9 out of 10 children aged 3. By the age of 4, dry nappies during the day become the regular, with only the occasional hiccup.
First and foremost, before worrying “how long does potty training take?”, you need a potty. To make your child excited to use the potty, we recommend either choosing a fun, animal themed potty or allowing your toddler to decorate it with stickers. However, there are other options you may want to consider, such as training pants. These can act as a good transition, between nappies and potties and allow your child to get accustomed to the sensations involved in needing the loo, as they are not as absorbent. Oftentimes though, children will bypass this stage altogether.
In addition, you may also want to gather some learning materials, such as fun story books that discuss using a potty or cartoons on the topic, so your little one will get used to the idea. Books that use terms such as “pee” and “poo” will help your child to develop an understanding of how to use the potty and what exactly it is for.
For a list of the essentials see here.
There are many different approaches that you can take when deciding to start potty training, several of which are listed here. Our favoured approach though is to talk to our children about potty training from the get go and provide as much context as possible. For example, if you use the potty in the bathroom each time, your child will begin to associate the bathroom with going to the toilet and this association will help in the long term. Children learn by watching and copying, so don’t be afraid to demonstrate. Older siblings can be very helpful in this process too.
Next, encourage your child to use the potty after meals and before bed, whenever they show signs that they may need to go. If they have a routine for when they use the toilet, you can start taking off their nappies at this time and practising building their confidence around using the potty.
It is important that you keep a consistent approach, so that your child does not get confused. When possible, take the potty with you when you are out and about, so that your child can become accustomed to using it each time. In addition, make sure that each caregiver is onboard, and is aware of how you would like to potty train.
That being said, potty training is no easy process, so remember that it is okay to take breaks! Up to 42% of parents admitted to having a break, so you certainly will not be the only one. It is never a competition, so make sure that you are not comparing your child with siblings or your friends children as it is easily done but can lead to unnecessary stress.
“Trust the process” is a phrase that applies perfectly to potty training. It is common for children to stay dry during the day but need to wear nappies overnight, or to have a few setbacks when learning. According to the NHS, 1 in 5 children aged five will sometimes wet the bed, so it is inevitable that your little one will have the odd accident, especially if they are emotional.
Our advice is to stay calm and be as encouraging as possible. When your child uses the potty successfully or makes improvements, be sure to reward them with praise! Soon, rather than asking, “how long does potty training take?” You will be asking, “what was all the fuss?”
We hope that potty training will be a smooth process for you! Don’t forget, you can always mop it up!