the village - Potty training using a child led or routine based approach

Helping to raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice and cool finds.
The village: helping raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice, hacks and cool finds

POTTY TRAINING — PART 2

Potty training using a child-led or routine-based approach

by Rosalee Lahaie Hera

Once you’ve decided that your toddler is ready for potty training and you’ve armed yourself with the key items to have on hand during potty training, it’s time to determine the best approach for potty training.

In general, there are three main methods: a child-led approach; a routine-based approach; and, a potty-training ‘vacation’ method. The first two methods are described in more detail below.

Child-led approach

The child-led approach is exactly what it sounds like. In this approach, parents and caregivers take a ‘wait it out’ attitude and let the child determine when they are ready to remove their diapers and start using the toilet.

There is a big age range for when a child will decide to start using the toilet on a consistent basis on their own, but this is generally possible between 3-4 years of age.

When a child is ready, they will ask to stop wearing diapers (or take them off themselves) and start taking themselves to the bathroom when they need to go. They may still need help with learning the routine of using the bathroom, e.g., wiping themselves properly, flushing and washing their hands afterward. They may also still need a nap or nighttime pull-up.

“Read them a special book that is reserved only for sitting on the potty. Give them lots of praise and reward them for sitting.”

This is a great approach for parents and caregivers who don’t mind continuing to change diapers for as long as it takes and want an easy, straightforward approach to independent toileting. This is also great for those children who may not be transitioning to school at 4 years old – that is, there is no time pressure for the child to be toilet trained. This is also an excellent choice for parents who are already following a child-led approach in other areas of their child’s development (for example, sleep).

Routine-based approach

If you would prefer to lead the process a little more, you can take a routine-based approach. This still follows your child’s cues and readiness, but also encourages them to become more independent with their toileting as soon as possible. This works well for younger toddlers who may not be showing many signs of readiness yet.

You will continue to keep your toddler in diapers but introduce specific times throughout the day that they will try to use the potty. Use predictable points in their daily routine to determine when they will try using the potty, including before meals, before leaving home and after coming back home. If they seem to have a specific time of day when they predictably poop, then include that time as well.

At these times, you will say “It’s time to sit on the potty” and aim for about five minutes of sitting on the potty. Read them a special book that is reserved only for sitting on the potty. Give them lots of praise and reward them for sitting. Give them a bigger reward if they eliminate into the potty (e.g., sticker, small food treat).

I recommend avoiding screen time while they are sitting, though you can certainly use screen time as a reward for after they’ve used the potty. Over time and as your child grows more accustomed to sitting on the potty, you may want to combine this approach with a potty-training vacation to make even more progress with their potty training.

Rosalee Lahaie Hera is a Certified Pediatric & Newborn Sleep Consultant, a Certified Potty Training Consultant, and the founder of Baby Sleep Love. She’s also a mom to two beautiful little humans. Rosalee is a researcher at heart with a background in healthcare management and a passion for sleep science. She takes a highly analytical approach and uses proven, gentle methods to help families (like yours!) get the sleep they need. Rosalee is a big fan of fancy coffee and great food (both cooking it and eating it). You can connect with Rosalee on Facebook or Instagram.

POTTY TRAINING — PART 2

Potty training using a child-led or routine-based approach

by Rosalee Lahaie Hera

Once you’ve decided that your toddler is ready for potty training and you’ve armed yourself with the key items to have on hand during potty training, it’s time to determine the best approach for potty training.

In general, there are three main methods: a child-led approach; a routine-based approach; and, a potty-training ‘vacation’ method. The first two methods are described in more detail below.

Child-led approach

The child-led approach is exactly what it sounds like. In this approach, parents and caregivers take a ‘wait it out’ attitude and let the child determine when they are ready to remove their diapers and start using the toilet.

There is a big age range for when a child will decide to start using the toilet on a consistent basis on their own, but this is generally possible between 3-4 years of age.

When a child is ready, they will ask to stop wearing diapers (or take them off themselves) and start taking themselves to the bathroom when they need to go. They may still need help with learning the routine of using the bathroom, e.g., wiping themselves properly, flushing and washing their hands afterward. They may also still need a nap or nighttime pull-up.

“Read them a special book that is reserved only for sitting on the potty. Give them lots of praise and reward them for sitting.”

This is a great approach for parents and caregivers who don’t mind continuing to change diapers for as long as it takes and want an easy, straightforward approach to independent toileting. This is also great for those children who may not be transitioning to school at 4 years old – that is, there is no time pressure for the child to be toilet trained. This is also an excellent choice for parents who are already following a child-led approach in other areas of their child’s development (for example, sleep).

Routine-based approach

If you would prefer to lead the process a little more, you can take a routine-based approach. This still follows your child’s cues and readiness, but also encourages them to become more independent with their toileting as soon as possible. This works well for younger toddlers who may not be showing many signs of readiness yet.

You will continue to keep your toddler in diapers but introduce specific times throughout the day that they will try to use the potty. Use predictable points in their daily routine to determine when they will try using the potty, including before meals, before leaving home and after coming back home. If they seem to have a specific time of day when they predictably poop, then include that time as well.

At these times, you will say “It’s time to sit on the potty” and aim for about five minutes of sitting on the potty. Read them a special book that is reserved only for sitting on the potty. Give them lots of praise and reward them for sitting. Give them a bigger reward if they eliminate into the potty (e.g., sticker, small food treat).

I recommend avoiding screen time while they are sitting, though you can certainly use screen time as a reward for after they’ve used the potty. Over time and as your child grows more accustomed to sitting on the potty, you may want to combine this approach with a potty-training vacation to make even more progress with their potty training.

Rosalee Lahaie Hera is a Certified Pediatric & Newborn Sleep Consultant, a Certified Potty Training Consultant, and the founder of Baby Sleep Love. She’s also a mom to two beautiful little humans. Rosalee is a researcher at heart with a background in healthcare management and a passion for sleep science. She takes a highly analytical approach and uses proven, gentle methods to help families (like yours!) get the sleep they need. Rosalee is a big fan of fancy coffee and great food (both cooking it and eating it). You can connect with Rosalee on Facebook or Instagram.

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