5 Reasons Why This Is The Best Time To Potty Train, Experts Say
Most of us are doing our part by staying home right now, which means you’ve probably been spending a lot (like really just a lot) of time in your house with your kids. If you're looking for something that will benefit you long-term and your kiddo seems just about ready to ditch the diapers, then you may be happy to hear that (according to pediatricians) this could be the best time to potty train.
Some of the most commonly-heard potty training advice involves trying to stay home with your kid for a few days and letting them run around the house without pants on. Chances are, potty-training or not, your child is inside for most of the day during quarantine, and they’re probably pants-less (in elastic waist pants on a good day, like the rest of us). So it actually might be the perfect opportunity to give potty training a try.
However, it goes without saying that this is a stressful time for everyone and toilet training is going to be a whole lot easier for everyone if your child is ready for it. Signs that your child is ready or almost ready include, "general interest in the bathroom, asking for a diaper change when wet or dirty, telling you they are going or have gone in their diaper, staying dry for longer periods throughout the day [or] for naps or overnight, hiding to poop, or resisting diaper changes," Allison Jandu, Potty Training Consultant, tells Romper.
If you feel like your child is ready, read on for five reasons why now could be an ideal time for potty training. But, fair warning: It seems like a lot of parents have the same idea, and you may want to move fast, as many of the potty chairs on Target's website and elsewhere are currently marked "high demand," and will be delayed in their shipping.
1. You're Home *All* The Time
There's nowhere to go during quarantine, except for the occasional trip to the grocery store. This is tough for most aspects of everyday life, but it's actually pretty great for potty training.
"It's definitely important to have some initial time at home when you first eliminate diapers. A new change is best received in the environment which a child is the most comfortable," Jandu tells Romper.
It's much easier to potty train when you're not trying to do so in public restrooms or while out running errands, and potty training during quarantine will mean your kiddo has plenty of time to practice their new skill before heading out into the world (in their cool new undies).
2. You Have Plenty Of Time & A Consistent Routine
There are no birthday parties or gymnastic classes to rush to, and you're not calling a babysitter for date night (sigh). If your kiddo needs more than a weekend to get the whole potty thing down pat, then they have what seems like all the time in the world.
Even if your routine was recently flipped on its head, your kiddo's day-to-day is probably pretty predictable right now (even if means a lot of screen time, snacks, and craft projects). This predictability is great for potty training. The Pampers website suggests getting your little one on a potty schedule; this means encouraging them to go on a reliable schedule, maybe before and after nap, or after eating. This helps them understand how going to the bathroom fits in with the rest of their activities.
3. It's NBD If An Accident Happens
In a world led by Daniel Tiger everyone who had to go potty would "stop and go right away" (sorry that song will now be in your head for days), but accidents happen.
"Accidents are frustrating, and you’re bound to feel some disappointment when they occur, but remember that they are a normal part of learning and not your child’s fault," Dr. David Hill, pediatrician, tells Romper. Plus you probably have all sorts of disinfectants on hand, and you're rarely more than a few rooms away from the washing machine.
It's also a good idea not to make a major deal out of an accident, which is much easier if you're not trying to get kiddos out the door when you hear the telltale sign of pee hitting the floor. When an inevitable accident does happen, you don't have to make a big deal out of it either way. Even when you're frustrated, if possible it's a good idea to clean up and then continue to encourage their efforts.
4. You Can Get Creative With Rewards
Rewards can be really motivating for kids, and you can set up a chart and have kiddos add a special sticker to it each time they use the potty. When they get a certain amount they can pick out a big treat like a toy or movie, which eliminates the need for a candy or treat immediately after using the bathroom." Most people you know are home and looking for cheerful distractions, so you could also have your kiddo FaceTime a grandparent, aunt, or friend to tell them their great potty news.
"Definitely reward success!" Hill says. "But clapping, hugs, and stickers work great. Let them tell relatives how well they’ve done, In general, we discourage food rewards because they can set kids up to look at sweets as a reward for good behavior rather than responding to their natural hunger cues."
5. Your Kiddo Has No Reason To Wear Pants
"Outside" pants have become a distant memory, and it's totally acceptable for kids to chill at home in the nude. After all, you're not going anywhere and there aren't going to be any surprise visitors knocking on the door. Sometimes called the "pantsless method," (per Fatherly) this can be a very effective way to get kiddos potty trained quickly (though you may want to cover your favorite rugs).
You could also have your kiddo just wear undies; Jandu tells Romper that staying bottomless for the initial part of potty training can be very helpful. "It accentuates all those sensations and urges a child experiences when they need to go potty and it also makes it more apparent when an accident happens (to both them and you!)" Jandu says. "This allows you to turn an accident into a success by catching some of the pee or poop in the potty. I always recommend introducing underwear after the first couple of days at the most so the child doesn't get too used to being naked, making the transition to clothing again that much more challenging."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all our Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here on this page, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.
Allison Jandu, Potty Training Consultant