Potty training pitfalls

Crawling, walking, self-feeding, and reading are just a few of the milestones parents look forward to and celebrate when their toddler accomplishes them. But if you were to ask any parent with an older child what task they liked checking off the list the most, chances are, potty training will be at the top of the list. And who could blame them? Buying, changing, and disposing of diapers gets cumbersome after a few years.

As you prepare for toilet training, there are a few potential pitfalls to know about. After all, most kids will have some difficulties, but they will eventually figure out how to ditch the diapers and hop onto the potty. Here are a few of the more common problems that occur during potty training and some tips to get past them.

Training too early

As a toddler approaches two-and-a-half years old, most parents are eager to get started on potty training. And even though you may be ready for Baby to sit on the big potty, they may not be. A few signs you should look for before taking the leap into full-on potty training mode include showing interest in the potty, dry diapers through the night, asking questions about the bathroom and toilet, taking their diaper off and pretending to go potty, and expressing interest to go “like a big kid.”

Uses the small potty, but not the toilet

Some kids have no problem using their potty training chair, but once you ask them to hop onto the big toilet, they panic. If you encounter this problem, Baby may be concerned that they will be sucked into the toilet when it is flushed, or they may not understand how or why their waste is flushed away. Let them flush the toilet and explain to them where their urine and feces go. You can even make it a game, and wave “bye-bye,” to the poop or come up with a simple song to sing that helps them relax and go potty.

Bowel movements only happen with a diaper on

It’s normal to discover that your toddler only wants to have a bowel movement with a diaper or training pants on, even if they have already transitioned to underwear for the majority of the day. Some kids will put a pair of training pants on and go to a special corner or place in the house to defecate. If this is happening, avoid attaching any judgment to the situation and simply guide your child to the bathroom and point to the toilet. Place them on the potty and ask them to go there. And if they are not quite ready to take the diaper off, allow them to have a bowel movement in their diaper while sitting on the toilet. While this does require a tremendous amount of patience and consistency on your part, a gradual step-by-step process is sometimes the only way to make the full transition.

Dry during the day, but wet at night

Staying dry at night often takes a toddler longer to master than daytime dryness. If they are having success during the day, but waking up wet at night, try putting disposable training pants on at night until they learn to recognize the need to get up and urinate. Taking them to the potty one or two times a night can also help them avoid wetting the bed.

Fully potty trained but wants back in diapers

Regression back to diapers can happen at any time, but having a pattern of accidents or asking for diapers often results from a stressor the child is facing. A new baby in the house, one adult leaving for an extended period of time, moving to a new house, illness, or leaving their beloved crib for a toddler bed can all lead to your child going back to diapers. It’s important not to overreact. Determine what is causing them to regress and then give consistent, gentle reminders during the day to use the bathroom. Focus on motivation and positive statements, reminding them that they know how to do this. You may even need to set up a reward system to help encourage the transition back to the toilet.

About the author:
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer focusing on parenting, health, and wellness. She is passionate about all things fitness and health and loves spending time with her husband, daughter, and son. 

  • “Toilet Training.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved August 22 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/toilet-training/Pages/default.aspx.
  • “Toilet Training.” MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved August 22 2017. https://medlineplus.gov/toilettraining.html. 

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