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Is My Child Too Young for Potty Training?

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Question: Is My Child Too Young for Potty Training?

Q:

My son is about 20 months old. He is following very simple instructions (give this to Mommy, etc.) For the last month or so, he follows my wife and I to the bathroom and watches what we do. About half an hour before bedtime, I change his diaper and he has a fit. When I take the old one, he is quiet and smiling. But when he sees a new diaper, he screams and cries. I think he might want to start training. Others in daycare are starting, but they are older. Is it time to start?
Answer: While your child is not yet 2 years old, keep in mind that age isn't as important as readiness. It sounds to me like your child is showing several of the signs of potty training readiness (he's following instructions, watching what you do with interest and doesn't want to wear diapers.)

One of the most important factors in potty training success has to do with desire. If your child wants to do it and initiates the process, then definitely go with the flow, so to speak.

Another factor in your favor is peer pressure. If you start potty training and he sees other children in his child care setting going to the bathroom (and he continues to want to watch Mom and Dad), he will likely learn faster and want to copy what everyone else is doing. Just make sure your child care provider knows that you are starting the process so that everyone is on the same page.

Since your child is younger and is probably still working on those motor skills, dress him in clothing that is easy to manipulate like loose-fitting sweatpants, shirts that don't hang very low (so they won't get in the way when he tries to urinate), and avoid anything with snaps, buttons and zippers.

If he's hating the thought of wearing diapers, putting him in disposable training pants probably would hinder your success, so I'd advise using cotton training pants or underwear.

Don't be afraid to start and then back off in a week or two if he's just not getting it. This happens, and it's perfectly normal. Take a break, but try to keep his interest up by reading books about potty training and continuing to talk about it and share your own bathroom time with him. It's better to relax and take things slowly than to push him. You'll know if you're pushing him because potty training will start feeling more like a power struggle (a big potty training no-no) than a learning process. That's your signal to slow down and let him take the lead.

It sounds to me like you're ready to get started, though. I wish the best of luck to you all!

Do you have a question you'd like to see answered? You can send your questions to me at babyparenting@aboutguide.com and I will answer them here on the site.

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