In this age and time, there are too many differing views about when is the right time for a child to stop wearing diapers.
As parents, we long to know the “right” age for our child to progress to this next stage of his or her development. After all, we cannot wait to be free from the hassle of changing (and buying) diapers!
The truth is, every child is different. There is no one-rule-fits-all approach in this matter.
Generally, most children between 1 ½ to 3 years old can start toilet training as they are likely to have acquired the skills to communicate their needs.
However, be careful not to rush your child. Be opened to pausing the process if he shows signs of reluctance and unhappiness.
Unsure of when to start potty-training?
Assess if your child is ready to be rid of the diapers by considering these three behavioural signs of readiness.
1. Your child understands the use of potty or toilet equipment
Observing your child’s interest in using the potty is one of the best indicators of readiness. For instance, a sure sign of interest is when your child follows you into the bathroom!
While he might not be ready to use the potty or toilet, you can still demonstrate the use of the toilet. This allows him to see, ask questions and learn from the experience.
To familiarise your child to good toilet habits, you can also read “potty-themed” books to them during bedtime. This makes for a fun and engaging way to deepen your child’s understanding of using the potty.
2. Your child is physically ready
Between the ages of 1 ½ to 3 years old, your child would have the muscle control to regulate himself. He is also more aware of his or her bodily functions and their needs.
Naturally, it is a ‘plus’ if your child is able to independently walk to the potty.
But, does he or she willingly sitting on the potty? If so, you have a clear indicator that your child is ready for potty-training.
Keeping his or her diaper dry for a longer-than-usual duration in the mornings or after naptime gives you a good idea of your child’s readiness as well.
3. Your child is able to communicate his needs and wants
Even if he or she is unable to speak in full sentences, observe your child’s actions for signs of discomfort.
For example, before or after soiling his diapers, your child may vocalise or display actions such as whining, freezing on a spot or playing with his diaper.
After expressing discomfort in soiled diapers, it will be a good time to introduce your child to the toilet habits.
Do praise your child when he has communicated his needs clearly! This boosts his self-esteem and confidence, which encourages him to continue exploring the habit of using the toilet!
At the start of the toilet training, children may take up to 3 to 4 weeks to be mostly dry during the day.
During this process, it is important to keep close observations on your child’s behaviour. Be mindful to constantly show them support and encouragement!
Some children may even take up to several months to get used to toilet training, while others might still wet or soil themselves a year after training begins.
Should your child regress, don’t consider it a failure and put pressure on him or her. Respect the change, and stick to the routine set up initially – perhaps using the toilet at least every 2 hours, until he or she is back on track again.
Slowly but surely, with consistent love and support, the diaper days will be over!
About the Expert: Ms Lim Chong Peng, Cluster Principal
Ms Chong Peng holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Nursing) degree from the University of Sydney, and Master of Science (Early Childhood Education) from Wheelock College. With advanced nursing specialisations in critical care nursing, she helmed the invasive cardiac unit at Tan Tock Seng Hospital to develop its operating procedures and maintain quality standards to achieve the ISO9000 certification.
A former infant-childcare operator, Chong Peng lends her expertise to the Kiddiwinkie team as a consulting principal. She is also responsible for the growth of the cluster of campuses under her care. She oversees the operational aspects relating to staff and centre management. In addition, she ensures that the centres deliver the highest standard of services and care for our young charges.