Q My three-year-old has been running around in the garden naked this summer – is now a good time to potty train?
Amber Butcher, Hertfordshire
Summer is a great time to potty train for several reasons. Firstly, you can contain most of the potty training to your garden, which greatly reduces the need for cleaning up accidents indoors, as well as the need to cover up carpets, rugs and sofas. Another important benefit is that the warmer weather allows your child to be completely naked without getting cold.
My recommendation for potty training, whatever the time of year, is that children should be ‘bare bottomed’ for the first two to three days of potty training. The chances are, your daughter won’t give you much notice when she needs to go to the toilet, and the time needed to remove clothing can often result in accidents, which can dent her confidence. Introduce easy-to-remove underwear by day three or four, then add other items of clothing as the week of potty training goes on.
Another thing to consider in summer is dehydration, which can impact not only how often she needs to wee, but is also a contributory factor in constipation, so do ensure that your child drinks enough. Homemade ice lollies are helpful for reluctant drinkers.
It would be ideal if you could devote five days to staying at home in the garden, to get off to the best start. This means that your child should be fairly dry by the time you venture out and about, and significantly reduces the chances of getting caught short in public. And it’s much easier to stay home for five days in the summer without boredom striking than it is in the winter!
Despite all of this, however, there is only one time when any parent should potty train – the right time for their child. Most children potty train between two and three years of age. Other signs that signal readiness include your child being able to tell you that she needs to go to the toilet before she goes (not during, or after), asking you to change her nappy, and hiding to go to the toilet, particularly for a poo. If these coincide with summer, you’re ready to go. If not, stay patient for just a little longer.