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Is your tot ready for potty training?

Potty training is a big deal in your child's life — and yours too, if you're looking forward to saving money and not buying diapers anymore.

Deciding whether or not your child is ready is the first step. There isn't a set age at which children should learn, but most develop the necessary skills between 18-24 months of age. When my daughter was around 2 1/2 years old, she started showing signs that she was ready for potty training. I started asking her if she wanted to try to use the potty and she said yes.

After you determine your child is ready, you need a plan. Ask for advice from other parents, and check out some potty training books to find a method you think will work for you and your tot. Then make your checklist for potty training essentials. Your list might include the following:
  • Potty training tips book for parents
  • Potty Training children's book(s) — My Big Boy(Girl) Potty, Once Upon a Potty, Potty Time with Elmo, Big Girls Use the Potty, etc.
  • A potty seat
  • Flushable wipes
  • Training pants
  • Big girl/boy underwear (let your tot pick out his/her own)
  • Pull-Ups, Easy Ups or other brand
  • Reward System — make it fun with stickers, bubbles, candy treats, etc.
Potty training needs to be fun and rewarding for your child, otherwise they will lose interest. Every child's potty training success happens at a different pace, so just take it slow, and let your tot learn at his/her own speed. Motivating with gentle reminders and encouragement also may help.

I asked my daughter almost every 15 minutes if she needed to go potty; sometimes she did and sometimes she didn't. And, sometimes, she just had an accident instead. I rewarded her with stickers, suckers and bubbles every time she used the potty.

A book on potty training that we used encouraged parents to buy a doll that "goes potty," and let your child teach the doll to go potty as well. For us, it was a great system; our daughter loved feeding her baby and then teaching it to use the potty.

The first time my daughter used the potty, she was so excited that she wanted to tell all her family. She was so cute and proud of herself. We called all the grandparents and bragged. She loved all the encouragement.

Whether it is letting your child spread the word of his/her success or picking out the new "undies" or simply giving a hug and a smile ... you will find the most encouraging way that gets you your fully potty-trained toddler.

Written by Kristy, mom to a newborn and a successfully potty-trained toddler.

January 2012