When to start potty training is one of those questions that both experts and experienced parents actually agree on.
When you are both ready, this is an event that you must have the support of the whole family. That way everything will be consistent for your child.
There is no point starting, if your partner is not yet ready to participate.
So...how do you work out the best time to begin toilet training? There are 4 things to consider:
1.Are putting undue pressure on yourself, or listening to any old fishwives who happen to grace you with their opinions?
2. Is your child physically ready to toilet train?
3. Is your child emotionally ready to toilet train?
4. Are you ready for this experience?
The rest of this page will go into more detail about each of these 4 questions.
The first thing to do is concentrate on what is best for you and your toddler.
Forget (possibly) well-intentioned advice of the 'In my day' variety from the older generation, or your seething jealousy when your friend's son is toilet trained while yours prefers to use his potty as a sandpit.
If the time is not right, forget it for now. Take heart from the fact that the later you begin, the quicker potty training happens - but starting too early can cause unnecessary problems (1).
No child has proper bowel or bladder control before the age of 18 months.
This is because the voluntary control that a truly potty trained child has is only possible when appropriate pathways in the brain are formed(2).
Potty training babies under this age was common before the age of the super-absorbent nappy and super-efficient washing machine.
In reality it was the carers who were trained.
What they were actually doing was sitting the child on the potty or toilet so often that he or she was bound to produce some (highly dubious) evidence of bladder and bowel 'control'.
When to start potty training? Not
during during times of major upheaval for your toddler - a new baby,
family break up, moving house etc. Don't forget that starting nursery or
daycare could well be a time of emotional turmoil for your child.
You might want to go as far as letting your toddler lead the way and leave potty training until s/he indicates readiness (4). Read more about this Child-Led method of training in Potty Training Techniques.
This is a very important thing to consider in deciding when to start potty training - both expert and anecdotal evidence is in agreement about it.
Are you suffering from terrible morning sickness? Just started a new project at work or taking on extra personal responsibilities, such as caring for a sick relative? Any unusual stress in your life indicates that you should leave training until later on.
If you go ahead without being ready, the resulting tension will rub off on your toddler who will find toilet training a real uphill struggle, and both of you will be confused about when to start potty training. She needs you to be rooting for her every step of the way.
Some experts, such as Jane Gilbert and Gina Ford, provide a list of signs to start potty training. These include:
Talking to other parents is invaluable if you still cannot decide when to start potty training. You will find as many different stories as there are potty seats on the market, all with good tips...and mistakes that you can learn from. But remember it's between you and your toddler, don't be fooled by some of the Mother of the Year stories, because they are just that..... stories.
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