While some aspects of parenting little ones have gotten easier over the years, thanks to baby food makers, nursing stations in airports, and 24/7 streaming cartoons (ha), potty training is one thing that remains a major source of stress and frustration for so many parents.
One of the challenges is that there are so many myths about potty training out there, a lot of us get bad info that create a lot of unreasonable expectations.
The last thing we need is more reason to stress out about our kids’ developmental milestones, right? In fact, when you have good info and the right products to help you, potty training can even be — dare we say it — kind of fun. It’s an opportunity to tackle a major milestone together, with our kids, and reap the rewards together.
So on behalf of our sponsors Pull-Ups and GoodNites, we are really happy to get a chance to chat with Dr. Heather Wittenberg, a child development expert, Pull-Ups and GoodNites parter, and the author of Let’s Get This Potty Started: The Baby Shrink’s Guide to Potty Training.
We spoke to her about some of the myths about potty training — both daytime and nighttime — to help figure out just what we’re all getting wrong, what we’re getting right, and how to make the experience a lot easier on everyone.
MYTH #1: If you don’t start potty training your child by age 2, you’ll have problems.
FACT: Potty training is a skill that requires developmental readiness, and it cannot be manufactured to meet an arbitrary deadline. In fact, starting before your child is ready will likely just mean potty training will take even longer!
There is no exact right time to start potty training your child. Every child is different. That’s why it’s important to look for signs that your child is ready, like pulling at a wet or dirty diaper, hiding to pee or poop, copying other potty behaviors, or waking up dry from a nap.
MYTH #2: Until your child stays dry day and night, you can’t call them fully potty-trained.
FACT: If your little one is dry all day – even if they’re not at night — congrats! Your child is fully potty trained.
Staying dry at night is actually a completely different task and it evolves naturally as children grow. It’s simply a matter of a child’s physical development and it can take longer for many kids, so wetting at nighttime in no way means a child is not potty trained.
MYTH #3: Nighttime wetting should be over by the time your child is 5
FACT: Nighttime wetting isn’t unusual at all for kids out of preschool. In fact, one in six kids in the US between the ages of 4 and 12 experience this, making it super common. Even if it’s not commonly talked about.
MYTH #4: Rewards can help get kids to stop nighttime wetting
FACT: Again, nighttime wetting is a developmental skill, so try to get out of the mindset that you can train your child out of bedwetting or reward them so much that they’ll wake up dry. It’s not that you can’t make potty training fun overall with sticker charts, games, incentives, or rewards. But when it comes to nighttime wetting, the best thing you can provide your child is support, comfort and protection. (Even if they really like getting those stickers.)
By the way, if your child is potty-trained during the day, but still experiencing wetness at night, GoodNites are a great long-term management option.
Myth #5: Alternating between diapers and training pants helps kids transition
FACT: Potty training in both training pants and diapers can be confusing for kids. When you take your child out of diapers, it’s important to keep them out of diapers. In fact, think of introducing Pull-Ups into your routine as a big, symbolic moment in your child’s development, letting your little one know that they are no longer a baby, but a toddler who’s getting ready to become a Big Kid!
Making – and sticking with – this transition is important to the potty training journey you’re taking together. Besides, no “Big Kid” wants to be laid down on a changing table like a baby if it’s not necessary.