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Potty training

Potty training is a big milestone for a child. The transition from nappies is one that different children are ready for at different times. There are also different theories about how potty training should be done, and is probably a subject new parents won't be short of advice on from grandparents and friends. Make sure the helpful advice really is helpful to you and not just an added pressure.

When is a child ready for potty training?

Poo and wee is easy for a baby in nappies. They just fill the nappy when they like, safe in the knowledge it'll be cleaned up soon and a nice new nappy will follow.

To take the step of using a potty or toilet, children have to be able to control their bladder and bowel. Most children seem to be able to control the urge for a poo earlier than the need to urinate.

Potty training usually begins at around 18-24 months but babies don't work to any exact development timetable. The child continence charity ERIC says some may be nearer three years old before they're ready. Girls are often faster to use the potty than boys.

The decision to start potty training is important to get right so the child is comfortable with the process and parents and carers are ready to deal with little accidents.

Parenting experts often say summer is a good time to start when there are fewer clothes to take off and washing and drying may be easier.

Avoid times when there are other changes in a child's life, such as moving home.

Child milestones happen in different children at different times, and some may be earlier or later than others in steps like potty training. Being late to use the potty is not a sign of developmental delays. Equally, children who reach other steps early, such as walking or talking may not be ahead of the curve when it comes to toilet time.

Signs a child is ready for potty training

Your toddler may start to give clues that the time is right for potty training. Telling you they have a dirty nappy shows the start of understanding what's going on with the bladder and bowel. Better still, they may let you know when they are having a poo or wee or that they're going to do either before it happens.

Modern disposable nappies are so effective at dealing with moisture, some children may be less aware that they've even had a wee. Some experts suggest introducing a non-absorbent liner - or pants - underneath before potty training to ensure the sensation of having a wee is understood.

A gap of around an hour to two hours between nappy wetting is also a good sign.

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