Toileting is a collaboration process. The goal is to make the process as natural and seamless as possible. Making the time and having the patience is often the biggest challenge for parents. This process is not a quick fix, nor can it be done in a day. With any new learning process, consistency in handling, repetition, and time allows this to be a lasting skill. We must acknowledge that every time we ask a child to use the toilet, it may be a 30-minute process. The more relaxed you are about the process, the more comfortable your child will be. Which is why gently responding to the child, preparing the environment, and facilitating the appropriate capabilities of your child is essential.
The ideal time for toileting is to begin at 12 months and end at 18-24 months. This period allows for the physical ability to hold and release bodily functions as well as give an emotional awareness to the process. At 12 months the myelination process is completed and a child can walk. The nervous system is able to control the sphincter muscles but they need practice. Children can control their toileting and allowing them to make connections early helps it be a peaceful process, prior to their need to exert control. This age is the time when children are curious about what adults are doing and they have a strong desire to do as we do.
Your Child is Ready! Look for facial expressions: Small hints that your child may be ready to urinate or feel an oncoming bowel movement. Location and regularity of the bowel movements: At around 12-15 months there should be regularity. Look at the demeanor of the child while using the diaper: Is he/she pulling at it? Is he/she undressing himself? If the answer is no, while toileting you get to collaborate and help your child master dressing and undressing.
Prepare the Environment in the toilet
Toilet or Potty Chair
Step stool to sink
Hamper for soiled clothes
Bath Rug or skid proof mat under toilet
Towels for wiping up the floor
Toileting is an opportunity for Connection. When your child misses the toilet, don’t shame him or use negative language.
Do not ask yes or no questions and if you make the mistake, respect the no and ask again in a few minutes. (So instead of asking “Do you need to use the toilet?, say “it’s time to use the toilet, which toilet do you want to use?”
Use opportunities for natural motivation (i.e. we are going to use the toilet before going outside).
Follow the Child.
An effective solution for cleaning the training pants: vinegar, water, and baking soda (add an essential oil such as lavender or tea tree for a fresher smell).
For more information about toileting, we recommend the following book:
We have selected some products that we recommend for toileting: