While girls may be able to potty train earlier than boys, they still may not be ready until after 18 months of age. It depends on the child and some are ready earlier, but some as late as four years old. Children who are younger siblings of older children tend to potty train faster, but the point is try not to rush things. She will let you know when she is physically and emotionally ready. Here are some helpful hints to help you decide when it is time to begin:
Starting potty training girls is pretty much the same as any child, when she starts to show signs of readiness. For some girls, this happens at the average age of 18 months. Some may show signs a little earlier and some a little later. For most people, training works best between the ages of two and three years.
Girls tend to show readiness for potty training about 3 months earlier than boys. This rule can vary and both girls and boys may show signs of early readiness to train if they have older brothers or sisters.
If your daughter has just started a new daycare or you are going through family changes, give potty training a little more time. You may also want to hold off until she has adjusted. It is also hard to potty train if she likes to voice her dislike over things.
How to Start Potty Training Girls
1. Choose the Right Equipment
A smaller potty chair that is designed for smaller bottoms can be less threatening and far more comfortable than the “grown-up” toilet. Having her very own “potty” will encourage her to go more often and relieve anxieties about using the toilet.
If your daughter seems okay with the “grown-up” toilet, then you can buy a smaller seat that clips on to the larger toilet seat. If you choose this route, get her a small footstool so she can climb up on the potty herself.
2. Demonstrate Using the Bathroom for Her
As adults, our children watch what we do and learn most everything from our actions. Try taking your daughter to the bathroom with you. As you sit on the toilet, give her detailed descriptions of what is happening. Show her how you use the toilet, show her what you put in the toilet and then teach her how to wipe properly from front to back. Lastly, explain that she needs to flush and wash her hands.
An important note is when you explain, use easy to understand terms but refrain from child-type wording. Some words may cause your child embarrassment and make bathroom time less interesting.
Precaution: Having dad or brothers help with demonstrating going potty may end up a little messy. There have been occasions when girls attempt to stand and pee like the boys and this inadvertently ends up with a puddle on the floor. If this happens, wipe it up and calmly explain that girls need to sit on the potty.
3. Get Her Comfortable with the Potty
Potty training girls can be fun by allowing your little girl to go shopping for her new equipment and help pick things out. Take her to the “potty chair” section and let her pick her favorite color or style.
After you bring home her new potty chair, allow her to make it her own. Start by letting her decorate it. Place her on it fully clothed and talk to her about what it is used for. Go easy at first so she doesn’t get frightened or anxious about using it. You can also demonstrate with her dolls and stuffed animals how they go “potty.”
4. Use Cool Underwear
During your shopping trip for a potty chair, stop by the girls section and show her the “big girl panties.” These have pretty flowers and popular characters that will help her feel more “grown up.” Explain to her that big girls use these and go potty on the toilet. Let her pick out her favorite ones.
Try to buy cloth “training pants” to use at first. These tend to encourage potty training better than disposable training pants that keep them dryer. They are made of heavy thick material to prevent puddles, but are not comfortable to wear when wet. These also come in cute colors with designs.
5. Plan Fun Activities
You may also want to invest in some helpful bathroom activities to keep her engaged and make potty training girls smooth. Often toddlers are too busy to sit still and just want to get up and run off to play before business is finished. Keep a small basket of books or toys for them to have while sitting on the toilet.
6. Set Up a Schedule
Toddlers work best with schedules. They need to know when to expect things to happen and with potty training, this will help them understand when it is time to go potty. If your daughter goes to daycare during the day, you will need to coordinate “potty times” with the person who watches your child. Otherwise, set up a good schedule at home that works with your daily schedule.
When working with a schedule you will first need to look at how you will get rid of diapers. Most toddlers still need diapers overnight, but can easily be transitioned to training pants during the day. Some moms use the disposable kind if she will be going to daycare. If she stays at home, they you might want to try the cloth training pants that are like underwear.
Make times during the day where you sit her on the potty. This can be first thing in the morning, after breakfast, lunch and other periodic times. Keep them around the same times so you don’t confuse her. If she resists, back off a little and try again later.
7. Pay Attention to Hygiene: Sit and Wipe
For girls, proper hygiene is of the utmost importance. Improper wiping can cause a urinary tract infection. Teaching little girls to wipe front to back is one of the most important aspects of potty training girls.
Sometimes, toddler girls may not have enough motor skills to wipe from front to back at first. If this is the case you can teach them to just pat themselves dry for now. If they continue to have trouble, you may need to wipe for them after bowel movements.
Watch for signs of a urinary tract infection such as burning, itching and cloudy urine. This can happen during potty training, but needs to be evaluated by a physician.
7. Reward Her
During potty training, it is also very important to avoid negativity and give positive encouragement. If she has an accident, clean her up and just calmly explain what to do next time. Never yell or get angry.
Instead, it is more productive to give rewards for the times she does use the toilet. Reward any good behavior that is associated with potty training such as; telling you she needs to go even if she uses her diaper, proper bathroom habits like hand washing, and using the toilet at least once daily. There isn’t a need to give rewards every time, but at least once a day is very helpful.
8. Lose the Diapers
When you feel like it is time to go “diaper free,” it’s important to have everyone on the same page. You need to decide if you are going to get rid of diapers all at once or a little at a time. Then you need to communicate these wishes to everyone who cares for your daughter.
You will also need to decide if you are going to use “pull-ups,” which are disposable or cloth training pants. Keep in mind that “pull-ups” absorb fluids and keep her dry so she will not feel the discomfort of being wet.
When the time comes to get rid of diapers completely, make it a big deal for her. Assist her in gathering up all of her diapers and maybe giving them away to a local food pantry for babies who need them. Praise her for being such a grown up “big girl.”
9. Deal with Potty Training Accidents
Potty training girls takes some time and patience. Don’t give up on her and she will learn how to use the toilet in time.
In order to make potty training easier on you and your daughter, place her in loosely fitting pants that she can pull up and down herself. Use command words instead of questions. Asking if she needs to, “go potty,” may get a no answer. Give her direction and offer a reward if she complies.
If she has an accident, try not to scold or get angry. Accidents are a normal part of potty training. Meet accidents with a calm demeanor. Clean up and move on. Encourage her to try and use the potty next time, but no yelling or punishment. This is one of the most important parts of potty training.
10. Night Training
This is a very advanced level of potty training girls and usually comes at the very end. You will notice readiness for this stage when the naptime and nighttime diapers stay dry while she is sleeping. It is hard to tell when they are fully ready to get rid of diapers when sleeping. Some girls are hard sleepers and may have the occasional accident.
Make sure you use a mattress protection cover that is waterproof before you begin. Then start by taking her to the bathroom and sitting her on the potty as soon as she wakes up. Take her again just before bed. After a few days you can try all night without a diaper. Again, taking her potty before bed and just after waking up. If you have an accident you can always go back to diapers for a few days and try again. It is sometimes helpful to restrict fluids after 5 or 6 p.m. to prevent bedwetting.