It's Potty Time

From diapers to underpants…are both you and your child ready to take this all important step.

WORDS MELISSA K


No more diapers.

The long term goal is definitely a lovely thought for parents especially with the constant changing of diapers and packing them for a short trip to the mall or even overseas trips.
The journey to the land of no more diapers though is another thing altogether. Every parent wonders when the ideal time is to start the long arduous journey of potty training their child.
Paediatrician, Dr Janice Wong Tzen Yuen from Thomson Paediatric Centre explains, “The age when a child is ready to be potty trained varies from child to child. It could range from as early as 18 months to as late as five years old.”

When Exactly Do You Start?
Dr Wendy Sinnathamby, specialist in paediatrics and consultant, Raffles Children’s Centre advises that, “A child may be ready to be potty trained when he seems uncomfortable or can indicate when the nappy is soiled or wet, when he is able to indicate when they want to go to the toilet or shows interest in going to the toilet or using the potty.”
Furthermore, if your little one is good at following simple instructions, stays dry for periods of two hours or more as well as able to wake up from a nap with dry nappy, you’re good to give potty training a try.

Step by Step
As daunting as it sounds, potty training doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips to take on potty training with your child.


Introduce the toilet to your child
Once child your child can understand how things function introduce and explain how the flush works.

Scheduled potty times
An example of this is every two hours for passing urine and every thirty minutes after meals for passing motion. Dr. Vanessa von Auer, clinical director/clinical psychologist at the VA Psychology Center shared that, “You can have structured potty breaks daily, where you place your child on the potty for a few minutes each time. When you notice that your child needs to use the potty but hasn't indicated this need you need to move fast. Try and get him onto the potty before he goes in the diaper.”

Make potty training fun
Encourage and commend positive improvements. Dr Chan Poh Chong, senior consultant, Division of General Ambulatory Paedriatrics and Adolescent Medicine, National University Hospital, advises, “Reading to your child from story books on potty training and making it fun and enjoyable to do so may help.”

Set examples
Children often follow by example so it might be a good idea to get an older sibling or cousin to set an example for your child to follow. Watching someone older use the potty like he should might just be what he needs.

Praise your child
A little goes a long way so don’t forget to praise, praise, praise. Dr Sinnathamby shares, “Praise him whenever he urinates or passes motion in the potty. Be positive and offer incentives like little rewards for successes and ignore accidents. Do not scold or nag for unsuccessful attempts.”

Gradual steps
Remember, it’s all new for your bub, so take things easy. Dr Chan advises, “Gradual steps, rather than giant leaps, are usually better to achieve long term potty training. Allow the child to wear his diapers, but encourage him to sit on the potty while moving his bowels. If not, entice him to sit in the toilet with his diapers, rather than in the rooms.”

Good hygiene
Teach your child good hygiene when using the toilet like to wipe themselves properly and wash their hands.

Reward your child
Consider incentives or rewards for sitting on the potty/toilet bowl and getting the job done such as a reward chart or star chart.

Achieve day time potty training first
Achieve daytime dryness first before attempting night time dryness as night time potty training sometimes takes a longer time to achieve.

What's Next?
Now that you’re a pro at potty training, you might be wondering when to move on to pull-up diapers or cotton undies.
A good time to start using pull-up diapers for your child is when he can pull down and up the diapers. Cotton underwear is recommended he dislikes wearing diapers. To interest your child, try buying underwear that has his favourite cartoon characters on it.
 
Bracing Yourself
The common problem that parents face while toilet training is the child’s phobia of going to the toilet and his dislike of sitting on the potty or toilet bowl. Remove any fear of the potty or the toilet by reading to him or distracting him from the fact that he’s sitting on the potty. It will gradually become second nature to him when he wants to poo.
Maintaining interest throughout the period of potty training can also prove challenging.
Many parents find potty training one of the most exasperating experience of a growing child. Patience is important during potty training. He may simply not be ready for it if he fails repeatedly. Do allow him to develop further before trying again.
If your child proves resistant to potty training don’t keep pushing it but stop and try again later. While your child might quickly get the hang of urinating into the potty, passing motion in it might take longer as your child may prefer to pass motion when in diapers. Also be calm. Even if your child is dry during the day he may continue to wet bed at night till five years old.


The First Three Weeks
Dr Chan suggests trying the following plan:
First week:
Read stories and highlight other family members’ example of moving their bowels in the toilet. Allow him to wear his diapers, but encourage him to sit in the toilet, or if possible, on the potty when he needs to go.
Second week:
Read to him or distract him as he sits on the potty or in the toilet, to remove any fear he may harbour. This is an important barrier he needs to overcome. Show him where the soiled diaper goes – into the potty – and get him to put it in for you.
Third-fourth week:
When he is ready and comfortable, remove the diapers and allow him to poo directly into the potty. Commend and reward him for his achievement. You may be surprised at how easy he progresses from one stage to the next, as long as you do it gradually and with great patience.
 


While it might take a while to get your little one potty trained, here’s a word of advice from Dr Wong. “If your child cannot be potty trained by the age of five, parents may wish to seek medical help from a paediatrician. This is to ensure that the child does not have urinary tract infection, an overactive bladder or any other causes for urinary incontinence.”  
 

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