Potty Training Tools & Tips for Teaching Your Child How to Use the Toilet

Once you determine that your child is ready to begin potty training, it's best to make him or her an equal participant in the planning by letting your little one help to choose important potty training gear, including: a potty or potty chair, a potty training seat, potty training incentives, and a potty training stool. Here's a step-by-step guide to potty training success.

Pick Your Potty or Potty Chair

Your desire to be diaper-free may drive you to tackle this exciting milestone with gusto, but you mustn't rush the process, because each child successfully potty trains in his or her own time. First, you'll want to take your little one shopping and let him or her choose an easy-to-use potty or potty chair with a removable waste basin. With numerous colors and patterns available to please both princesses and superheroes alike, most potties are one size fits most. However, you'll find that some potties sit lower to the ground which are great for petite potty trainers or children who begin to show interest at an earlier age. Other potties sit higher off the ground which may be more appropriate for larger and/or older potty trainers. Potty chairs, which are relatively similar in design and style to freestanding potties, are either made of plastic or wood and often feature both a higher back and arm rests. There's no wrong choice between either style, so consider your child's particular needs before purchasing. When your little one is ready to use the potty for the first time, let him or her sit for as long as they are comfortable and be sure to praise your child, even if they don't actually pee or poo.

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Portable Potty Training Seats

Let your child become comfortable in the bathroom, and then introduce the potty training seat, also known as a potty ring or seat reducer. Commonly made of plastic—and sometimes with a cushioned seat for extra comfort and handles for safety—the potty training seat fits most toilets. Whether due to space constraints or your aversion to dumping and washing a potty's removable waste basin, you may decide to forgo using a potty or potty chair and instead start your child immediately on a potty training seat. To maintain the momentum that you created at the start of the potty training process, schedule potty breaks—even if your child doesn't feel like using the potty training seat—every 30, 60, or 90 minutes. If you are frequently on the go or will be traveling while potty training, potty training seats are slim enough to fit into a diaper bag and some models even fold to reduce space.

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Popular Potty Training Incentives

Whether potty training started off on a high note but has suddenly stalled or your little one lacks motivation to progress on his or her own unless you're offering constant reminders, potty training aids may be the solution. Fun is paramount for children ages 2 to 4, so make potty training less tedious and more entertaining. Help your child pick out a book about potty training and explain that it can only be read while he or she uses the potty. Hopefully reading the book will entice your little one to visit the bathroom more often. Put your little one in control of potty visits by purchasing a potty training watch that your child can wear to gently remind him or her that it's time to try using the potty. If you have a son, he may get a kick out of tossing biodegradable targets into the toilet and peeing on top of them, so keep track of his record. (Plus, the potty training targets will help with his aim when he begins to urinate standing up.) Aside from praise, your child may also like to receive a token of accomplishment when using the potty. You may decide to dole out one piece of candy for each attempt at using the potty and two pieces for each successful use of the potty, or allow your child to select a prize (easily acquired at the dollar store) from the potty prize box—either potty training aid will hold his or her interest and make your little one want to continue. Sticker charts are a great visible reminder of your child's progress, so consider placing one where he or she can touch and see it. Remember to reinforce the importance of the entire potty routine, and be sure to praise your little one for properly cleaning his or her privates, flushing the toilet without assistance, and washing hands.

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Step Up with Potty Training Ladders

If all goes as planned, your child will first master the potty, potty chair, and/or potty training seat, and then venture over to the big potty. However, the newfound independence that comes with using the toilet means he or she may want to use the potty without telling you or requesting your help. Therefore, for your child's safety you should purchase a potty training step ladder (or step stool) that is either attached to or directly in front of the toilet that your child uses most frequently. Commonly made of plastic (although metal and wood step ladders are also suitable) with a skid-proof base, potty training step ladders are available in a range of colors, designs, and sizes. To complete the final step in potty training consider redressing your child after he or she uses the toilet in a pair of cloth underwear with disposable training pants on top to reinforce the goal of him or her getting to the potty before wetting or soiling the underwear. In case your child has to pee or poo during the night, illuminate a path to the bathroom, so he or she can easily climb the potty training step ladder and use the toilet. Use the disposable pull-on training pants for one week at night, and if your child wakes up dry each morning, switch over to underwear and never look back! Be prepared for occasional bedwetting, but know that it is common. If your child begins to wet the bed well after potty usage has been established, consult your healthcare provider.

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