Getting Ready for Potty Training

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Diapers, diapers, and more diapers—it's amazing how many you've changed since your child was born! What parent hasn't dreamed of the day when the diapers will be gone forever? However, toilet training is also a subject that many parents think about with nervous anticipation. Learning to use the toilet independently is one of the tasks your child will need to master to learn to take care of her own needs but don't worry, everything doesn't have to go perfectly all at once. Visually impaired children, like other children, can learn to handle going to the bathroom on their own.

Most parents don't begin potty training until their child is around age two, and most children aren't developmentally able to exercise the control needed until they are at least 18 months old. Still, your everyday routines around diapering and elimination can start helping your child get ready long before that time. These routines will also help her learn about herself and the world.

  • Have a consistent diapering routine so that your baby knows what to expect. You might want to say, "It's time to change your diaper," as you gently pat her bottom. As you move through the steps of changing her, name each step, for example, "Now I'm taking off your wet diaper." Using the same steps and the same language each time will help your baby start to anticipate what will happen next.
  • As your baby nears her first birthday, start involving her actively in parts of the diapering routine. For instance, she can help you pull down her pants or hand you the tube of ointment you use.
  • Name her body parts as you touch them during diapering, always using the proper name for each one. This will help your child learn about her body, especially if she can't see it.
  • Once your baby is walking and is mobile, put a few diapers where she can reach them, and encourage her to get her diaper when it is time for a change. This will help her begin to recognize when she needs to have her diaper changed. It will also give her a purpose for moving and at the same time help her realize that everything has a place where it is kept.
  • Talking about using the toilet is a big part of toilet training. For example, explain to your child what is happening when she is urinating or having a bowel movement in her diaper, and let her know that big boys and girls do that in the toilet. There are many helpful books written for toddlers who are learning about using the toilet.
  • Allow your child to accompany you into the bathroom if you're comfortable with that. Tell her about what you are doing. When the toilet is clean and not being used, allow her to touch it to see what it is all about. Together the two of you can flush it and listen to the noise it makes. Make sure to warn her before you flush so she's not startled!

How do you know if your toddler is ready to start formal toilet training? See "It's Time to Sit on the Potty!"

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