Toilet Learning: When Is It Too Soon?

By Janelle Turk

February 19, 2021

Janelle is a mother of 4 beautiful children, RN, sleep coach, lactation counselor and prenatal coach. She has a passion for working with new Mamas and easing the transition into parenthood. She believes in the value of qualified and professional support with zero judgement attached. "It's only a problem if it's a problem for you"!

You’ve made it through the sometimes exhausting infant and baby stage and you are into the toddler stage! That’s a huge accomplishment! So now what? You are shifting gears and wondering if it is time for your little one to ditch those diapers. Before you rush into anything it is important to ensure that your child is ready. Jumping in prematurely can lead to a lot of frustration and tears for everyone. We can help you avoid those tears, and make the transition to the toilet go smoothly.

When we talk about your little one is ready, we aren’t just referring to their mental capacity to make the connection between peeing and pooping and the toilet. It goes further than that, and we want to make sure you have all the bases covered so toilet learning goes smoothly for everyone. We don’t want to start before your child is ready, as it can lead to frustration and tears on everyone’s part. Often toilet learning prior to age two is difficult, as children this young aren’t able to make the connection between what their body’s telling them and what they need to do about it. This disconnect can lead to pee accidents and holding poop. The implications of holding poop are big and can lead to constipation, we will chat more on that in a moment.

So how do you know when your baby is ready to switch from diapers to the toilet or potty? I encourage you to take our quick quiz that can help you determine where your toddler is at with readiness. Unfortunately, there is no magic age or “window” that will make it all wonderful & easy. The Mama Coach has done extensive research on toilet learning and readiness. We have come up with 9 signs of readiness. When these signs are met, you can be sure that your child is ready to learn how to pee & poop on the potty- both physically & developmentally.

I am going to share with you 3 of our signs of readiness, so you can get started on your journey to toilet learning!

SLEEP FIRST

You might be wondering what the connection between sleep and the toilet is, but really it boils down to a basic need. We all need adequate sleep in order to function properly. It is super hard to process and learn new things if you are tired. The same holds true for your little one. So the first thing you need to do is look at whether or not your child is getting enough sleep. How is nighttime sleep? How are naps? Is it a struggle to get him to sleep at night, are there multiple wake-ups? Any sleep problems that surface need to be addressed and remedied prior to introducing something new (Toilet Learning). If you are unsure of where to start with sleep, please reach out to your Mama Coach, and she can help you get to sleep on the rails!

LET’S TALK ABOUT POOP

One way to have your child ready to poop on the potty is to make sure that he isn’t constipated. This may not be something that you have considered before, generally, I think it’s safe to say we are happy as long as they are going regularly. However, we need to ensure that your child’s poop can be easily passed. We are talking soft & mushy! If his poop is pebble-like, hard, very large, log-shaped, then we need to correct it. If this is the case the first thing you can do is increase the amount of fiber and water in your little one’s diet, but you should also contact your family doctor or health care provider and talk with them about constipation. When children are constipated they can very quickly develop negative feelings around pooping, frankly, it can be painful, and it can start to lead to more issues with the rectum. So, let’s check that poop! Get on the phone with your doctor and get things sorted out- not only to make toilet learning go smoother but to prevent any ongoing health issues.

UNDERSTANDING LANGUAGE

I specifically want to talk about your child’s receptive language. Receptive language is the ability to understand words and language. Your little one needs to be able to understand and follow Two-step commands, for example, “Can you go get a diaper and bring it to me?” or “Go grab your bunny and put it in the basket”. Understanding the language and knowing what it means is required for children to learn, and implement their new knowledge.

If you find that your little one is not yet able to understand what you are asking him to do, maybe his poop is hard and lumpy, or he is struggling with night time wake-ups, this just means that you need to wait, seek support, and possibly treatment prior to starting. You will get there! If you were checking off those boxes then you may be close! These are just 3 of the 9 signs of readiness to look for. We would love to have you at one of our workshops or work with you individually on toilet learning. We can help you determine readiness- no need to stress! If your little one isn’t quite there, we will support you whenever they are ready. You Got This!

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