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Potty Training

Is your little one ready to start potty training? Huggies has you covered! We’ll help you determine how ready your child is, find the right supplies and tools, and provide fun activity suggestions to make your training routine a success. Check out the

little girl with toilet paper

Potty Talk: Words To Use When You Toilet Train

Your kid’s showing all the signs of potty readiness—dry diapers after naps, long gaps between changes, and an ability to follow directions. But how do you get the potty started? With these tips!

Q: How do I approach the subject of potty training?

A: Keep it easy, breezy—and super positive, says Teri Crane, author of Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day. "Rather than ask a question like, ‘Do you want to stop wearing your diapers?’ try something like, ‘I think you are ready to stop wearing your diapers and start using the potty today.’" 

Q: What words do I use for "number one" and "number two"?

A: Number one and number two, if that’s what you like. The best words to use are the ones with which you and your partner are most comfortable and familiar. If you prefer formal ones (urinate and defecate), fine! If you’re into more casual ones (pee and poop or wee-wee and ca-ca), fine! Just be consistent. And remember, you’ll be using the words a lot when you’re out and about, so you want to make sure you’ll be okay speaking them in public, too.

Q: What can I say to encourage my child to go potty?

Again, be consistent. "It will confuse your child if you ask her in the morning if she has to ‘go tinkle’ and then call it ‘go pee-pee’ in the afternoon," says Crane. "Children have very concrete thinking. A euphemism like, ‘Do you have to go to the bathroom?’ will probably be literally translated to ‘Do you need to walk into the bathroom?’ Which means unless there’s something in the bathroom that your child needs, she will probably say, ‘No.’"

Q: What should I say when my child has an accident?

A: No kid gets through potty training without at least one accident, so don't make a big deal about it—just continue to be encouraging. "Keep assuring your child that you believe in his ability to master this new skill," says Crane. "Tell him, 'Everybody makes mistakes when we learn something new. But we just keep practicing and pretty soon, we're really good at it. The more you practice, the better you'll get at it.'" 

Check out the Pull-Ups potty training resource center for more tips, tools, and advice.

Image: Getty

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Mini Mouse and Mickey Mouse Potty Training Seats

In Case You're Wondering About Potty Training…

Several of my friends have young toddlers, and they’ve all recently picked my brain about potty training.

How old was Noah? How did you do it? When is normal?

And I’ll tell you what I told them.

Calm down and it take it easy.

I started the potty training at 18 months because I convinced myself that he was showing signs of “readiness” (meaning I read one too many magazine articles), and the battle raged until he was almost 3-and-a-half.

A battle that included potty seats, potty times, potty charts, potty rewards — I even put blue food coloring into the water so that his urine might turn it green, just to entice him. We tried little potties, potty rings, and even standing up with Daddy.

A battle continuously lost each time he’d put on a diaper, immediately soiling it even after sitting on the little potty for what felt like forever.

A battle that left me frustrated, feeling like a failure, muttering things like “I can’t physically MAKE him go to the bathroom,” and “WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?”

I was done with the diapers — so very, very done — but 2-year-old Noah insisted, “But I yike my diapers, mama.”

Sigh.

And then one day, a few months after his 3rd birthday, I put the potty ring back onto the big-person toilet. It scared him the first time around, but that was over a year ago. Maybe….

Noah sat down and peed.

HALLELUJAH!

A couple of hours later, he pooped.

WHHAAAAAA’?!

And from that night forth, he stayed dry at night — even waking up to go to the bathroom.

MARCHING BAND! SOMEONE GET ME A MARCHING BAND!

Image: DisneyBaby Blog

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little boy potty training

Potty Training: Getting Boys & Girls to Go

Chin up, mommy: though it may seem unlikely right now, your toddler will learn to go potty in the potty. It does take some tots longer than others to master the skill, but they all eventually do — we promise!

Tips for Boys and Girls

  • Practice patience.
    The more low-key and relaxed you are, the better for everyone.
  • Pick your pot.
    You have two choices: a low-to-the-ground potty chair or an insert that fits on the big toilet seat. (If you go this route, you’ll also need a step stool.) If possible, give both options a test-drive to see what your toddler prefers.
  • Stock up on supplies.
    Make sure to have liquid soap (for washing little hands), disinfecting wipes for floors and fixtures, rewards (such as stickers or dollar-store trinkets) and Pull-Ups Products (such as Big Kid Flushable Wipes and Pull-Ups Training Pants).
  • Storytime.
    Buy or borrow DVDs and books about potty training to share with your toddler. Most are available in both boy and girl versions. What to Expect When You Go to the Potty is a great choice!
  • Cheer!
    Be sure to lavish your little one with praise and positive reinforcement at every turn.

Just for Boys

Going potty is a bit more complicated for boys than it is for girls. Little boys need to master sitting and standing, after all. Here’s where a male role-model comes in handy!

  • Start with sitting.
    Start off by having your little guy sit for both pooping and peeing. Once he’s really got the hang of things, he can stand “just like Daddy.”
  • Help him hit the target.
    Show your son how to aim. If he’s sitting, he’ll need to point his penis down into the toilet to make sure the pee goes where it needs to go. When he starts to stand, help him hit the target by floating O-shaped cereal, bits of toilet paper or drops of food coloring in the toilet bowl and challenging him to go for a bull’s-eye.
  • Reinforce good manners.
    It’s never too early to teach your tot potty etiquette. If he’s standing to pee, show him how to raise the seat (all the way, so it won’t fall on him midstream) and then lower it again when he’s finished. Don’t forget to flush and wash those hands!

Just for Girls

  • Wipe front to back.
    This is the only piece of girl-specific advice you need. If this is too tricky for now, you can have her pat dry instead.

Good luck — and go with the flow!

WhatToExpect.com

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Let's Start Potty Training

Congratulations! Your little one knows when she has to go potty, her diapers are staying dry and she's showing other classic signs of potty training readiness. Chances are, you're good to go.

So now what? Well, before you officially begin potty training, make sure that you are ready to take on the challenge, too. It does require a commitment, because you'll probably need about six weeks just to complete basic toilet training.

Here are some tips that will help when you decide to get started.

Pick a potty

This may sound like an obvious first step, but a little planning ahead before buying goes a long way. Getting your little one involved in the purchase of her potty can help build excitement and encourage her interest in toilet training. Make time to go shopping together and let her help you select the perfect one.

Play potty

That's right, play with the potty. It will help your child feel comfortable and proud that she has a potty that's all her own. Let her put it wherever she wants to (really, it doesn't have to be in the bathroom) and encourage her to sit on it with her clothes on to start. You can add more fun to the experience by having her potty train her favorite doll or stuffed animal.

Praise her

Learning to go potty like the big kids isn't easy. Your little one needs your support and encouragement to keep her going. Praise her interest in sitting on the potty even if she doesn't poop, pee or take off her diaper. When she has an accident (it happens), remain positive by letting her know that it's okay and she can try again next time.

Try an incentive

What's best? That depends on the child. Maybe a potty training sticker chart featuring her favorite cartoon character will work. If that doesn't do it, offer playtime at the park or an extra treat. It might take a little experimenting to figure out what appeals most to your little one, but in the end she'll feel happy knowing that she's making progress and her efforts are being recognized.

Skip the punishment

Is that another puddle of pee in the family room? Take a deep breath and avoid punishing your toddler for inevitable accidents. Being negative won't help her learn any quicker and will likely have the opposite effect. Some research even suggests that using punishment techniques when potty training could mean a greater risk of incontinence and urinary tract infections for your little one-not good!

Reward her success

Has your child been using the potty properly for one week or more? If so, she's probably ready to try training pants or cotton underwear. You can let her pick out her favorite styles at the store as a reward for all her efforts. Remember, bowel control and nighttime dryness will definitely take several more months or even years for her to master. But that doesn't diminish her accomplishment. Learning how to use the potty successfully is a milestone that is worthy of celebration.

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Potty Time

Potty Training infographic

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little boy playing in bathroom

Help! My Son Won't Poop in the Potty

From The Washington Post

Your little boy might not pull down his Pull-Ups until you figure out what kind of guy he is.

What works for one child doesn't always work for another, according to authors Sara Au and Peter L. Stavinoha, whose book, "Stress-Free Potty Training" (Amazon; $13), tells parents that toilet training should suit the child's temperament. You can train your son in a flash, they say, if he's a persistent person who focuses on a goal relentlessly or if he's a perfectionist by nature. But that child still might need extra time to learn his skills because he wants to do them right.

It is harder to train an impulsive child, because he is usually so busy bouncing from one activity to the next that he forgets to go to the bathroom, and it's also hard to train the sensitive child who is bothered by scratchy labels, seams in his socks and new experiences - like using the potty.

The strong-willed child usually gives the greatest grief. If you think your son refuses to use the toilet (or pick up his toys or eat his peas) simply because you've told him to use the toilet (or pick up his toys or eat his peas), you may have to get someone else to train him or learn to give your son his rules in a low-key, nonconfrontational way.

Tell him that he can still stand up to pee in the toilet, but you won't ask him to climb on a stool to reach the little seat that you've put in the big seat that sits on top of the toilet so he can poop there. Instead, put a little potty chair in his room so he and his teddy bear can poop whenever they want. And be prepared to congratulate Bear when he uses it one day and to wipe your boy's bottom to show Bear how it's done.

You also have to show respect when you give rules to a strong-willed child - or indeed any child - if you want to get your own way. Tell your son that he doesn't have to poop in the potty, but he does have to sit on it while he poops in his Pull-Ups so he'll get used to the idea. And if this makes him hold in his poop? Quietly take dairy, chocolate and bananas out of his diet, because they are binders, and give him some bran in his cereal at breakfast and some stewed prunes at dinner, so his stools will be easier to pass. If constipation becomes chronic, it can last for years.

You also should tell your son that his body grabs nutrition from the foods that he eats and drinks, but it throws the rest away. This explanation will help him realize that his pee and his poop are trash. Just don't flush the toilet while your son is still in the bathroom. It takes some children a while to realize that their poop isn't part of themselves.

To learn more, read "Toilet Training" by Vicki Lansky (Book Peddlers; $13). The science is diluted, but it's still the best and simplest book about a subject that matters so much at the time and is hardly remembered a few years later. For more consolation, please remember: your son will be trained by the time he gets married. And that's a promise.


Chat Thursday at noon Join Kelly for a live Q&A about parenting and other family relationships at washingtonpost.com/advice , where you can also read past columns.

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Girl Reading a book potty training

Who's Ready for a Potty?

It's hard not to want to toilet train your little one as soon as she can walk. Your friend tells you her 18-month-old boy potty trained in a week. The daycare refuses to take kids who aren't toilet-trained. And it seems there is a bright and shiny new potty in every home you visit. That's a lot of pressure!

Welcome to potty training anxiety. A very common parenting phenomenon that can be put to an abrupt end by asking yourself one simple question: Is my little one even ready to potty train yet?

"Every child is unique and will be ready to potty train at a different age, so there's no need to stress yourself out or compare your child to other toddlers," says Kathrym Espana, M.D., a pediatrician at Texas Children's Pediatrics Fannin in Houston.

Although research indicates that the best time to start potty training is when a toddler is between 24 to 32 months old, Espana says the most ideal time is when your little one is developmentally ready.

Here are some signs that indicate your kiddo is ready to give it a go.

She knows when it's time.

Maybe she squats, grunts or tugs on her diaper. Perhaps she uses a word to let you know. When your child shares that she's about to poop or pee, it means that she is becoming aware of what it feels like when she has to go potty. That's key.

The potty interests her.

Bring up the potty as a topic of conversation. Does your little one like talking about it? Will she sit on it? If so, you're heading in the right direction. Tears or resistance at the mere mention of a potty means-oops, the timing isn't right.

She understands directions.

Ask your little one to "sit down" or "stand up." Does she get what you're asking her to do? More importantly, does she do it? She needs to be able to comprehend and follow through on instructions before she's ready to be toilet trained.

Her diapers stay dry longer.

Surprise! Your toddler wakes up from her nap and her diaper is completely dry. Then you go on a playdate and don't even have to change her. Once she's staying dry for periods of two hours or more, it's a sure sign that she is developmentally on her way.

She has more motor skills.

You know walking is a must before you can train, but other gross and fine motor skills are required, too. Your little one needs to be able to have proper finger and hand coordination so that she can pull her pants up and down. The ability to sit down on the potty -and get back up again-is also a must.

Remember, only 40 to 60 percent of toddlers complete potty training by the time they are three years old, so no worries if your little one isn't on the same timeline as her peers or siblings. It will happen when she is ready. Until then, it wouldn't hurt to just browse the potty aisle the next time you're alone at the store.

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teaching how to potty train

Potty Training: How to Get the Job Done

Potty training is a big step for kids and parents alike. The secret to success? Patience - perhaps more patience than you ever imagined.

Is it time?

Potty-training success hinges on physical and emotional readiness, not a specific age. Many kids show interest in potty training by age 2, but others might not be ready until age 2 1/2 or even older - and there's no rush. If you start potty training too early, it might take longer to train your child.

Is your child ready? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your child seem interested in the potty chair or toilet, or in wearing underwear?
  • Can your child understand and follow basic directions?
  • Does your child tell you through words, facial expressions or posture when he or she needs to go?
  • Does your child stay dry for periods of two hours or longer during the day?
  • Does your child complain about wet or dirty diapers?
  • Can your child pull down his or her pants and pull them up again?
  • Can your child sit on and rise from a potty chair?

If you answered mostly yes, your child might be ready for potty training. If you answered mostly no, you might want to wait awhile - especially if your child has recently faced or is about to face a major change, such as a move or the arrival of a new sibling. A toddler who opposes potty training today might be open to the idea in a few months.

There's no need to postpone potty training if your child has a chronic medical condition but is able to use the toilet normally. Be aware that the process might take longer, however.

Ready, set, go!

When you decide it's time to begin potty training, set your child up for success. Start by maintaining a sense of humor and a positive attitude - and recruiting all of your child's caregivers to do the same. Then follow these practical steps.

Pull out the equipment

Place a potty chair in the bathroom. You might want to try a model with a removable top that can be placed directly on the toilet when your child is ready. Encourage your child to sit on the potty chair - with or without a diaper. Make sure your child's feet rest firmly on the floor or a stool. Help your child understand how to talk about the bathroom using simple, correct terms. You might dump the contents of a dirty diaper into the potty chair to show its purpose, or let your child see family members using the toilet.

Schedule potty breaks

If your child is interested, have him or her sit on the potty chair or toilet without a diaper for a few minutes several times a day. For boys, it's often best to master urination sitting down, and then move to standing up after bowel training is complete. Read a potty-training book or give your child a special toy to use while sitting on the potty chair or toilet. Stay with your child when he or she is in the bathroom. Even if your child simply sits there, offer praise for trying - and remind your child that he or she can try again later.

Get there - fast!

When you notice signs that your child might need to use the toilet - such as squirming, squatting or holding the genital area - respond quickly. Help your child become familiar with these signals, stop what he or she is doing and head to the toilet. Praise your child for telling you when he or she has to go. Teach girls to wipe carefully from front to back to prevent bringing germs from the rectum to the vagina or bladder. When it's time to flush, let your child do the honors. Make sure your child washes his or her hands after using the toilet.

Consider incentives

Some kids respond to stickers or stars on a chart. For others, trips to the park or extra bedtime stories are effective. Experiment to find what works best for your child. Reinforce your child's effort with verbal praise, such as, "How exciting! You're learning to use the toilet just like big kids do!" Be positive even if a trip to the toilet isn't successful.

Ditch the diapers

After several weeks of successful potty breaks, your child might be ready to trade diapers for training pants or regular underwear. Celebrate this transition. Go on a special outing. Let your child select "big kid" underwear. Call close friends or loved ones and let your child spread the news. Once your child is wearing training pants or regular underwear, avoid overalls, belts, leotards or other items that could hinder quick undressing.

Sleep soundly

Most children master daytime bladder control first, often within about two to three months of consistent toilet training. Nap and nighttime training might take months - or years - longer. In the meantime, use disposable training pants or plastic mattress covers when your child sleeps.

Know when to call it quits

If your child resists using the potty chair or toilet or isn't getting the hang of it within a few weeks, take a break. Chances are he or she isn't ready yet. Try again in a few months.

Accidents will happen

You might breathe easier once your child figures out how to use the toilet, but expect occasional accidents and near misses. Here's help preventing - and handling - wet pants:

  • Offer reminders.
    Accidents often happen when kids are absorbed in activities that - for the moment - are more interesting than using the toilet. To fight this phenomenon, suggest regular bathroom trips, such as first thing in the morning, after each meal and snack, and before getting in the car or going to bed. Point out telltale signs of holding it, such as holding the genital area.
  • Stay calm.
    Kids don't have accidents to irritate their parents. If your child has an accident, don't add to the embarrassment by scolding or disciplining your child. You might say, "You forgot this time. Next time you'll get to the bathroom sooner."
  • Be prepared.
    If your child has frequent accidents, absorbent underwear might be best. Keep a change of underwear and clothing handy, especially at school or in child care.

When to seek help

Occasional accidents are harmless, but they can lead to teasing, embarrassment and alienation from peers. If your potty-trained child reverts or loses ground - especially at age 4 or older - or you're concerned about your child's accidents, contact his or her doctor. Sometimes wetting problems indicate an underlying physical condition, such as a urinary tract infection or an overactive bladder. Prompt treatment can help your child become accident-free.

1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of Use.

Image: Getty

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Transitioning into Training Pants

"Moving into training pants is a key sign for your child that she is becoming a Big Kid and therefore should start using the potty," says former Pull-Ups® Potty Training Partner, Page Turner.

Below are some helpful insights from Page and the Pull-Ups® Brand for transitioning tots to training pants and completing potty training:

  • Build excitement around the milestone of moving into trainings pants that are just like Big Kid underwear. To get my twins excited about becoming big girls, I had them store their training pants in the dresser drawer just like real underwear.
  • Have your child practice pulling them on and off themselves before starting to use them. In my case, practice really did make perfect!
  • Try giving your tot the chance to sit on the potty – first with the pants on and later with them off. I had my girls sit on the potty after they helped decorate it with stickers, which really helped create excitement about the whole process.
  • Teach your child about the graphics that disappear when wet and indicate the difference between wet and dry.
  • Celebrate when your toddler correctly uses the training pants to encourage Big Kid behavior. Or try celebrating with an outing they enjoy – my kids always love a special trip to the park.
  • Once you’ve made the switch out of diapers and into training pants, don’t switch back and forth. It may be confusing and slow down the process. Set backs are inevitable, but I found my kids made the most progress when I kept them in training pants, even when we went on vacation.

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Gearing up to go potty

  1. Acknowledging the potty

    The very first step toward potty-training is having your child understand when he's going to the bathroom. He'll start telling you when he's going or has gone. He'll want his diaper changed immediately because he recognizes that he's uncomfortable. Then you can start introducing the concept of the potty. For example, after he's gone in his diaper, discard it in the toilet and help him flush!

  2. Well, hello potty

    Before you bring your child in contact with the toilet, it may be useful to think about getting a child's potty seat. One idea is to draw a colorful, fun potty out of construction paper and post it next to the actual potty, so that she can associate the drawing with the real thing. Ask her if she would like to use the potty before bath time or after a nap. If she refuses, remain positive and say, "Okay, maybe next time!" If she is excited, follow through with the process.

  3. Big kids go potty

    Once your child sits on the toilet — or even if he just tries — praise him enthusiastically. If he actually goes, giving him a reward such as a piece of candy is one approach but also encourage him after he's done by clapping and saying things like "Good job!" and "Big boys go on the potty!"

  4. Signs of readiness

    Potty training could take about, on average, eight weeks — but this is highly individual. What's just as important as waiting for your child to show readiness is that you pick up on behavior demonstrating that your child might not be ready. Once she sits on the potty, if she doesn't get down to business and starts fiddling with the toilet paper, whining or even crying, for example, then it's time to wait a few more weeks before you start again.

  5. Ditching the diapers

    As the concept of using the toilet becomes more prominent, set your watch every hour and encourage your child to go frequently. Associate certain times of day with going to the bathroom — first thing in the morning, before and after nap/rest time, after lunch, before bed and so forth. And make sure that as a parent, you're frequently and noticeably using the bathroom as well.

  6. Potty pointers

    Don't succumb to pressure, and don't pass pressure on. Although your friends may be potty training their children or have a child who, they say, "self-trained at 18 months," don't feel as if your child is not as advanced because he lacks the physical readiness to use the potty. Remember, your child must be physically independent in addition to being emotionally ready. Some kids, too, need to decide that the benefits of being a "big kid" and wearing underwear outweigh the convenience of diapers.

The best advice overall is to stay positive and enthusiastic — both for you and for your child — and remember what parents who have been there say: "Don't worry — she's not going to go to college in diapers!"

Learn more at PullUps.com    

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