Potty Training, Start Living a Diaper Free Life | by Kristen Bason

Posted on Tue, Nov 13, 2012

My goal is to get our three-year-old completely potty trained by the time her baby brother arrives (she is doing great!). It would be a dream to only have to buy diapers for one, rather than two. Is my dream possible?

According to Dr. Liesl Young, a pediatrician with Pediatrics 5280, the typical age range for potty training readiness is between 18 months to 3 years.

Most experts agree that potty training not only takes patience, but time. They recommend starting the training when you can spend a lot of time with your child, when your child seems complacent, and there are no major distractions in his/her life (i.e. a new sibling). Most importantly, it is critically that your child (and not you) expresses real interest in using the potty.

“When they show interest, that is a good time to bring out the training potty and read stories about potty training,” says Dr. Maureen Snelling with Littleton Pediatric Medical Center.

Dr. Snelling also recommends visiting the store together and perusing big kid underwear, and trying to set up a routine like using the potty first thing in the morning, at bath time, or after dinner.

Another great motivator is a reward system – anything from stickers to toys can be enough to inspire a child to sit on the potty.

“I usually recommend a sticker chart with “bigger” rewards along the way for doing well. The bigger rewards can be anything that works for your family – a hot wheels car, play jewelry, or a lollipop,” says Dr. Young.

Urinating is easier for children to master versus having a BM on the potty, so experts caution to expect accidents and don’t make them a negative. Focus on praising your child for their potty successes.

And, it’s true – girls tend to take to the potty quicker than boys. By age 3 most girls are potty trained, compared to just 50 percent of boys.

“No one knows for sure why this is true, but it probably has to do with girls being more verbal and developing that neurological maturity faster,” explains Dr. Young.

Signs of Potty Training Readiness:

  • Can he/she stay dry for at least 3 hours at a time?
  • Does he/she have regular, predictable BM’s?
  • Can he/she follow simple instructions?
  • Is your child uncomfortable in dirty diapers?
  • Is he/she asking to use the potty?
  • Is he/she physically coordinated enough to run/walk steadily?
  • Is he/she physically coordinated enough to pull pants up and down?
  • Does your child show a desire for independence?
  • Does your child take pride in accomplishments?
  • Does your child have words for urine and stool?
  • Is your child in a cooperative stage?

If you can answer yes to most or all of those questions, you are probably okay to start potty training. (Courtesy of Liesl Young, MD at Pediatrics 5280, Centennial)

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