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Facts and advice from pediatricians about potty training and getting your baby diaper-free. Potty training, it’s more about creating a routine than ‘training’. This process is often long and can be strenuous, so it is important to refrain from creating a power struggle.
Potty training for one- to two-year-olds
You can start by sitting the child on the potty every morning, noon, evening even when the child is only a few years old. There are at least 3 benefits for this:
1. There is no rush to stop using diapers. The child will have time to develop a potty routine long before you as a parent get tired of diapers.
2. When the child begins to urinate while sitting on the potty, they empty the bladder completely which reduces the risk of urinary tract infections.
3. It’s also easier to poop on the potty than in a diaper because it is easier to poop in a sitting position than in a standing position.
It is important not to be in a hurry. It often takes time to learn to sit on the potty, to understand that you should pee and poop there and to consider it as a good idea. Fighting over the potty only creates bad associations around it for the child – avoid it. If the child reacts negatively, put the potty aside for a while.
Suggest sitting on the potty regularly
As I said, potty training is not training, but repeated offers. The ultimate goal is to become diaper-free, but there must be no urgency to stop using diapers. Offer to walk the child to the potty when they wake up, after each meal and before the child goes to bed.
In my experiences children will first sit on the potty for a while without anything coming. After a while they start to pee sometimes and then do not want to sit on the potty for a few months, even if it is only offered occasionally. Then they it want again. Eventually there will be more peeing and pooping on the potty.
Create good toilet routines
Very many preschool age children have problems with constipation, or urinate during the day or at night. Recurrent urinary tract infections (especially in girls) are also common. Many children with these problems do not go to the toilet regularly. The most important long-term treatment for all these problems is good toilet routines and to sit on the potty every three hours. Try to create this as early on as potty training.
Most preschoolers do not take on this responsibility themselves. It’s more fun to play than to go to the toilet. At some preschools, the staff helps with toilet routines during the day. Ensure that they do it at your child’s preschool, and help your child remember to go to the toilet at home.
No fighting at the potty!
This is so important that I’ll write it again. No fighting at the potty! Coercion and quarrels destroy the potty training period. Respect a ‘no’ and respect two hundred thousand ‘no’s’ from the one-and-a-half or two-year-old. If the child wants to get up after two seconds, still praise them “You sat on the potty! How amazing!”. Pause the potty training if it feels like you can no longer cope. Check with the child if there is any pee or poop and mention what you see without criticizing an empty potty. “No, no pee / poop now”. I like to praise children when the pee or poop is in the pot. “Great work! The pee is in the potty!”. The reward is to be able to pour the pee into the toilet and rinse (a great reward for many one- to two-year-olds).
If you have a child who is generally defiant and does not want to sit on the potty at all, pause and put on a diaper again. Do not enter into a power struggle over potty training. Wait and see.
Read more about temper tantrums – how to handle three-year-old defiance
At five years, most are diaper-free during the day
If the child has not managed to stop using a diaper at the age of five, you can get help. Talk to the children’s medical center in the first instance, or with your healthcare center or a pediatrician. At 6 years, most are dry at night. After the age of 6, you can seek help for a child who experiences bed wetting.
Potty or baby toilet seat?
It’s a matter of taste. Choose for yourself. Always combine a baby toilet seat with a high stool so that the child can climb up by themselves and their feet are supported.
Elimination Communication (EC)
You can take care of your baby without using a diaper. EC encourages natural toilet training. It requires a very present, attentive parent, who watches the baby and learns to recognize the baby’s behavior during urination or pooping. As soon as the parent sees the signal, the parent goes with the child to the toilet or a sink, holds the baby over it and often makes a sound, usually ‘sss’, or a whistle. Gradually the child learns to associate the sound with peeing and the parent can ask the infant to pee by holding it over the sink / toilet and making the sound.
I find it very fascinating! I have not tried this with any of my babies, because I have not had the energy or the desire at all. I have used disposable diapers. If you want to read more about babies without a diaper, you can do so at diaper-free babies (in Swedish). There is also a discussion group on Facebook for parents who are interested. You can read more about it on the site.
Temper Tantrums – how to handle three-year-old defiance