Potty training is something that fills most parents with at least a little dread. Some want to get it all done by the age of 2, others are happy to just wait until their toddler seems “ready” and others decide that they have to get on with it as the next baby is on the way!
If you are trying to decide when the right time to start potty training is, and are feeling pressure to start within the first two years of your child’s life, here is something to think about:
When most of us parents were babies, we were probably wearing terry toweling nappies. Great, big squares of fabric that had been folded several times to make a bulky lump in an attempt to absorb as much wee as possible, secured by scary pins, sorry that should be safety pins, and goodness knows what else. These nappies weren’t very absorbent and definitely weren’t very comfortable – especially when they were wet! Babies back then had a very good reason to want to get out of nappies. Now, however, they don’t. Disposable nappies keep moisture away from babies’ skin for hours and they’re not nearly as bulky as old-school nappies. Babies don’t have the incentive to get out of nappies like they did 30+ years go.
So, it is possible to potty train babies from 16 months onwards, but if you want to do it quickly with less stress and less mess, maybe it’s worth waiting a while longer (2 and a half years is perfectly acceptable).
Whatever it is that drives you to get started, there is one thing that you usually don’t need to worry about putting much effort into, but that gets many parents very distressed. It is getting your little one to be “dry at night”.
As we mature, our bodies start to produce the Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH) while we sleep. This suppresses kidney activity and as a result the bladder does not fill as quickly as it does when we’re awake. This hormone combined with the bladder size increasing, means that we don’t feel the need to go for a wee while we sleep.
So when you have managed to get your toddler potty trained during the day, you just need to wait patiently for nature to take its course. The tell-tale sign that ADH is being produced and your child is ready to go nappyless at night is when you find a few dry nappies in the mornings. Remember that even potty trained children might be a bit lazy in the morning, and pee in their nappy when they wake up, so you may have to get to them before they wake fully and check the nappy. The next step is take the sides off the cot (yes, keep the sides on until this time!) and put a potty by the bed and see how you go.
If, however, your child has been dry at night for some time, and starts wetting the bed, this is a very different issue, and could be due to an infection or some kind of emotional upset.