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5 surprising facts about potty training

Potty training isn’t always easy. But my goodness, what a milestone! And once your child has cracked it, it will be worth all of the hard work.

1. Your child isn’t ready for potty training until they are physically or emotionally ready. Being emotionally ready could mean showing signs of wanting to use the potty - getting irritated by a wet nappy, pulling their nappy down when they need a wee or wanting to wear big kids underwear. On the physical side, until your child learns to associate the toilet with elimination it’s very tricky to potty train – and your child won’t be physically ready to do that until they are around 18 months old at the earliest. It may due to more permissive and knowledgeable parenting, but the age for potty training is rising. The average 18-month-old in the 1940s was usually nappy-free. And let’s face it, without disposable nappies – who can blame the parents for rushing?! But now we know, there is no rush. So why engage in power struggles when your child is just not ready?

2. Your child will probably wet the bed occasionally until they are school age. Perhaps even until they are 7. They physically cannot stay dry at night until their body produces a hormone called antidiuretic hormone (ADH) - which slows the kidney’s urine production and tells the body to stop making urine at night. My advice is to invest in waterproof covers, give your child enough water to drink during the day, reward them for weeing before bed but do not wake your child to use the toilet during the night. And never make them feel bad about wetting their bed – it’s not something they can control. 

3. If your child has a long-term illness or disability, they may take a little longer. All children are different and they way they use the toilet might be linked to their specific condition. The most important advice here is choosing clothes which are easy to change and wash, invest in large size nappies and do not despair. With patience, consistency and reinforcing good behaviour – you will get there. Finally, if your child finds it hard to communicate, perhaps use a signalling system like Makaton or use a toilet roll to signal needing the loo. 

4. Pull ups are nappies! Switching to underwear during waking hours is the only way to help your child understand when they need to use the potty. Pull ups feel just the same to your child and by using them, you are just making the transition foggy. They are perfect for night time though, as your child doesn’t have the same control over their body during that time. 

5. Toddlers need to wee every 1-2 hours. Sometimes even more than this. And they need to poo 2-3 times a day. Set yourself and your child up for success by keeping track of potty breaks – then you’re ready to go and you won’t lose track! 

If you’d like to learn more, a resource I often recommend to my families is ERIC – The Children’s Bowel and Bladder Charity. And there are so many wonderful books on Amazon.

If you’d like to chat to me in person about this important milestone in your child’s life, or discuss your little one’s sleep, please get in touch for a no-obligation initial consultation.

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