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Potty Training Tips

Potty training ... it's a huge developmental milestone for toddlers and their parents.

Diapers are expensive, and changing diapers is a daily routine that no one looks forward to. It's no wonder that parents can't wait to potty-train their little ones.

If you are ready to start potty training, or just wondering if the time is right, we have lots of tips for potty training at home and at school!


Stages of Potty Training

It's helpful to think of potty training as three stages that children move through:

Introductory Stage. Before actively potty-training, children need opportunities to practice sitting on the potty, pulling simple elastic shorts up and down, washing hands and talking about the potty. At school, we usually start this stage around two years old, and children may be in this stage for a short period of time or for several months. During this time, we are helping children feel more confident in the bathroom and giving them the opportunity to discover how their bladder muscles work. Throughout this stage children continue to wear diapers (they aren't ready for undies yet, and pull-ups ... well, see below for the problems with pull-ups!)

Active Potty-Training Stage. When children show the signs that they are developmentally ready (see below for four simple signs), we stop using diapers and graduate to undies! This is an exciting stage ... and sometimes a messy one! Children are excited to be wear big kid pants, but accidents can and do happen, so we plan for them. Have lots of changes of clothes available for little ones in this stage, and remember if your little is ready, this stage is short, often only one or two weeks. Accidents are no big deal. We just clean up the mess and put on clean, dry clothes. And remember, once we move into undies, there is no turning back. We don't use diapers during this stage except for naps and overnight.

Maintenance Stage. When children are truly developmentally ready for potty training, accidents usually decrease dramatically within one to two weeks. While pooping in the toilet often takes a little more time, this is normal and shouldn't prevent your child from wearing underwear all day long. During the maintenance stage children may need frequent reminders and trips to the bathroom, but they should be staying dry most of the time. Many children need to continue working on pooping in the potty (rather than their undies) for a while. Remember, it's a developmental process ... be patient!

Potty Trained! Eventually children stay dry throughout the day, and they poop in the toilet regularly. Hurray! Your child is potty-trained! (There may be an occasional accident during the day or at night, and this is normal.)

What Is a Good Age to Start Potty-Training?

Potty training is a developmental process. What does that mean? Simply that while there is a normal developmental sequence to potty-training, every child progresses through that developmental sequence in their own time frame.

Most little girls potty train between 2 years and 2 1/2 years old, while boys tend to potty train between 2 1/2 and 3 years old. These are just general guidelines, however. Every