According to experts, girls have a higher level of focus than boys and this makes it possible to potty train them earlier. I am sure that this is good news for you – after all, changing a dirty diaper is not high on the list of things that most people want to do. From about the age of 18 months and on, your baby girl may be ready to start potty training.
That is not to say that every girl will be ready at this age and it is important not to push the process on her if she is not ready. Studies have shown that if you push your child into potty training before they are ready, it will be a far more stressful and drawn out procedure.
Teaching your daughter how to use the potty is something that will require your child’s cooperation, that you are patient, and that you are willing to spend time on it.
Start off by going through our checklist to see whether or not your little girl is ready for potty training.
If you are sure she is ready, make sure that the timing is right before starting the training. If there have been any big changes in your daughter’ routine, put off the training until later. Too many changes at once can be overwhelming for a child. You also want to ensure that she is going through a cooperative phase or you will not be very successful.
Ready to start training her?
Teach by Example
Small children learn new things by imitating others. It naturally follows then that you should allow her to see you the bathroom. This is not the time to get embarrassed – you want your daughter to have a good body image. In the same way, you need to be careful what terms you use to refer to her genitals. If you start using informal terms like “hoo-hoo” to refer to her vagina, she will begin to think that there is something to be embarrassed about. It is better to use the formal names for all body parts.
Your daughter may have seen one of her brothers, father or school friend pee standing up and she’ll probably want to try this as well. It may be a bit messy but let her try if she wants to – she’ll learn fast that she is not able to do this and will probably forget about it quickly. Should she still want to keep trying, then you are going to need to gently explain to her how girls pee sitting down.
Use the Right Tools
Starting off with a child-size potty is something that most experts will advise you to do. You can get your daughter to help choose one and this will help to her excited about the training. It will also help her to get the hang of things without her having anxiety about falling into the toilet. (This is a common fear amongst small children when using a full-sized toilet.)
An alternative when potty training is to get an adapter seat that fits on your toilet. You will have to make sure that it fits securely and that your daughter is comfortable going this route. You also have to ensure that she will be able to get up and down off the toilet easily and this could mean putting a stool there. The stool will also be necessary if she needs some stability when she is on the toilet.
You can also get some visual aids in the form of books or videos so that your daughter can learn about how it all works. “Uh, Oh! Gotta Go!” is a good choice. “Once Upon a Potty” is also a good choice and even has a miniature potty and doll to practice with.
Getting Your Child Used to the Potty
Using a potty at this stage is something very new to your daughter – she has always had the security of wearing diapers before and so will need to get used to the idea of going to the potty. Making it clear that the potty chair that you bought is just for her can help. You can help her to decorate it if she wants to and consider writing her name on it.
The start getting her to sit on the potty, fully clothed, so that she can get used to it. After you’ve done this for about a week, you can ask her if she wants to try it without her pants on. Be guided by your child here – if she says, “No”, then carry on as before and try again in another week or so. Pressurizing her now will just end with her in tears and can make her completely resistant to the change going forward.
It can be helpful to play “potty” with your child’s favorite teddy or doll first. Set the toy on the potty so that they can “go” too. Your child will learn much faster this way and will find this a lot more fun than listening to you tell her what she must do.
If at all possible, set up a potty for the toy itself so that your daughter and her toy can go to the potty at the same time.
Make Her Excited About Wearing Underwear
Make a big deal about buying panties for your daughter – make it a special trip and a reward for being a big girl. Helping her to feel excited will help to relieve any anxiety she has about using the potty.
Let her choose whatever panties she likes – this will help keep her excited about wearing panties and make her feel more grown up.
Schedule Time to Train
As mentioned before, a set routine is extremely important to children. If you want to start doing away with diapers, you will need to schedule time for training. How much time you spend will be determined by what your schedule is like and whether or not your child goes to daycare. If she does, you need to speak to her teacher at school so you can coordinate your efforts.
You have two options – just doing away with diapers completely or alternating between panties and diapers. There are those who advocate getting training pants – these are basically just a diaper that can be pulled on and off like underwear.
And there are those who think that training pants are a bad idea. They feel that you have to move onto underwear straight away so that your daughter is able to tell if she has wet herself. This can be messier but it may suit your child better.
Your child should guide you here as well – do what feels right for them. If you are not sure, you can ask your family doctor for advice.
At night you are probably going to want to continue to use diapers. You should also check with your child’s teacher about what the routine will be when it comes to school.
Show Your Daughter How to Sit Down and Wipe Properly
Help her to sit on the potty properly so that she is comfortable with it and feels relaxed.
Once she is comfortable, teaching your daughter how to wipe after using the potty is very important. She must learn to always wipe from front to back. If she wipes the other way, especially after having a bowel movement, she could be at risk of getting an infection.
If she seems confused about the direction to wipe in, you can show her that she should pat the area dry when she has finished peeing.
While you daughter is still potty training, it is important to watch for signs of a bladder infection. (These are more common in girls at this stage.) Signs of a bladder infection include painful urination, more frequent urination, pain in the abdomen and the inability to hold in the urine.
Lose the Diaper Every So Often
The best way to for your daughter to learn about recognizing the signs that she needs the toilet is to let her run around the house without her diaper on. Make sure that her potty is near to where she plays and get her to sit on it every now and again, even if she does not feel she needs to go.
Learn your daughter’s cues for going to the potty, like her pressing her legs together tightly or squirming. When she shows these signs, ask her if she wants to go to the potty.
The more your child is left without a diaper on, the easier it will be for them to learn control. You could choose to set aside a few days for this specifically, do this on weekends only or during the evening after work.
It’s Celebration Time
Accidents will happen and so you will need to clear up a few messes. Never moan at your child for these. Rather make use of positive reinforcements – when she gets it right and makes it to the potty, say well done without making her feel self-conscious.
Set goals for her and reward her when she reaches them. Maybe you can celebrate when she has had an afternoon with no accidents. Choose particular milestones and celebrate these with rewards that she will enjoy.
Using the potty is a skill that your child will learn over time and one that she will improve at over time. Make it as easy as possible for her to get things right and she’ll learn even faster. Make sure that she is easily able to remove her clothes if she needs to. Avoid clothes with difficult fastenings or buttons/ zippers and clothes that are too tight. You might even want to consider buying panties that are a little too big.
Never punish your child for having an accident. Potty training can quickly be derailed if the child feels anxious or begins to associate going to the potty with a negative experience. Accidents will happen and can happen even when your child seems to have mastered potty training if they are distracted. This is also normal so never make them feel bad about it.
If you find that both you and your daughter are getting frustrated by the process, it might be wise to give it a rest for a couple of weeks and then to try again later.
Make It Fun
With a little bit of creative thinking, you can turn potty training into fun. Try experiments like adding red food coloring to the water – when she pees, the water will turn orange and this is bound to delight her. Design a fun, and quick, pee-pee dance for when she needs to go or keep some of her favorite books within easy reach of the toilet.
Rewards will help to keep your child motivated when the novelty has worn off. Keeping a star chart or sticker chart will be fun for her and allow her to see how well she is doing. Each time she makes it to the potty, allow her to stick a sticker or star onto her page. If this doesn’t quite do the trick, offer her a separate reward, like a toy or sweet, when she accumulates enough stickers or stars.
During the initial potty training phase, you would still have allowed your daughter to wear diapers at night. Once she has mastered staying dry through the day, it is time to move on to night-time training. For most children, it takes about 6 months to be able to stay dry throughout their naps but staying dry all night can be trickier.
If your daughter feels ready to leave the diapers off at night, you should allow her to do so. Placing a mattress protector over the bed will help make cleaning up accidents a lot easier. Try this out for five nights. If she stays dry, all is good and well. If not, gently ease her back into diapers with the promise that she can try it again in a few weeks time.
When she is able to stay dry throughout the night for at least three nights out of every five, she is ready to ditch her diapers for good. Do help her achieve this by not allowing her to drink too much during the evening and by ensuring that she goes to the potty before she goes to bed and again when you go to bed.
Bye Bye Diapers
Being able to do without diapers is a huge milestone for your child and should be celebrated as such. Make a big deal of it – you can even have a party if you want to. Allow her to help you get rid of whatever diapers are left over and say goodbye to that phase in her life.