How to potty train a girl

Check out our potty training tips for girls - including when to start and what you need when it comes to toilet training a girl

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According to many of our wonderful MFM mums out there who took part in our potty training survey, potty training girls is waaay easier than potty training boys. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, by any stretch of the imagination!

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Our survey for our Wee Can Do This campaign uncovered some interesting results on the potty training gender divide.

Girls often want to start potty training at a younger age than boys. In fact, our survey of 1,229 parents revealed that 54% of parents of girls start trying to potty train their girls under the age of 2 compared to only 38% of parents of boys.

We also found out that by the age of 2 and a half, nearly a third of girls (30%) are fully dry at night compared to 1 in 5 boys (19%).

But why the yawning canyon of difference between the sexes? One idea behind girls’ earlier potty training success is that girls often develop communication skills faster than boys and begin to tell you when they need to use the potty while boys may not notice.

Another theory is that girls tend to focus on one activity at a time, stay in a smaller space, and don’t need as many repetitive tries as boys at something new like potty training.

To be fair, though, it must be said that girls can sit down for both wee and poo, but boys have to master 2 different positions for 2 different actions.

Whichever reason you go with, it’s clear that good communication is the foundation of successful potty training so if your daughter is ready to start this new adventure, lots of talking it up and positive encouragement should lead to good results.

And if you follow our 10 top timely tips, you should be looking at a perfectly potty trained young lady in next to no time at all.

10 tips on potty training girls

1.  Make sure she’s ready

If your little girl is showing several of these 10 potty training readiness signs, no matter what age, it’s time to get the potty out!

Being ready is key to a good start and a sure fire way to success, so don’t underestimate this. But equally, don’t force her if she’s not ready (recipe for disaster) and try to keep your cool when the inevitable accidents happen.

Make sure the timing is right too: if she’s just started nursery or you’re moving house or even due to give birth to another child, wait a while longer before you start potty training as she might feel overwhelmed by lots of change and you will most likely be less successful.

2. Get her involved in buying the potty and pants

Getting your daughter enthusiastic about potty training is essential as it makes it all the more exciting and fun for her and shows her that she really is on her way to being a ‘big girl’.

Get some girly potty training products. Pretty pants can work wonders as an incentive.

“Girls love it when they can wear big girl pants with their favourite characters on – especially princess ones,” says Potty training expert Amanda Jenner.

“Take your little girl to choose her new potty and let her carry the bag out of the shop,” Amanda suggests, “they love this and it helps the whole process.”

Girl-specific training books (such as Little Princess) and a cute travel potty are good investments too.

Take a look at some of our favourite pant-style nappies for potty training

3. Ask her how she’s feeling about it all

Talk to your little girl loads beforehand about what’s going to happen and make sure she feels happy and at ease about it.

Talk her through how she will use all these new things you’re buying and ask her how she feels about it.

Chances are she’s excited, but if she doesn’t appear to be too fussed, really talk it up to her and show her how thrilled you are with the new skills she’s learning and how proud that makes you.

4. Use stickers and reward charts

To add to the excitement of your little girl growing up into a big girl, let her choose stickers that she likes and set up a reward chart to measure and monitor her potty training success.

Or download our wonderful and FREE reward chart here! If you’re OK with it, she can decorate her potty, the loo and the bathroom walls with her cool new stickers – and encourage her when she doesn’t quite get it, too.

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5. Let her watch you on the loo

Toddlers learn by imitation so let your daughter see how you wee when you use the loo. This helps her to understand that it’s totally normal, everyone does it – and it beats sitting around all day with a wet bum in a soggy nappy.

“Use key words: ‘mummy is having a wee’, and show her that you wash your hands after – all little ones love water. (Pink hand wash does the trick too),” Amanda suggests.

She may also notice that you sit down and Daddy stands up to use the toilet, which gives you the opportunity to explain how boys and girls are built differently.

And if she has a favourite toy or teddy, try using that for potty demonstrations.

6. Make sure she wipes correctly

Teach her to wipe the right way. “This can be the most challenging experience,” says Amanda. “It is important you teach them to wipe front to back, not back to front, as it’s very common in girls’ potty training to get urine infections.”

If you find she needs to wee more often and complains that it hurts, cries or says she has backache, take her to the doctor.

7. Avoid clothing that’s hard to take off (and let her run naked where possible)

Seems endless, sometimes, all this shopping for stuff. Not that we’re complaining, mind…And getting the right kind of clothing for potty training success is paramount.

Potty training guru Amanda Jenner says: “Keep to skirts or dresses for a quick response time whilst potty training.”

Then again, if weather permits and/or your house is snug and warm, let her go commando.

The more time your daughter spends out of nappies, the faster she’ll learn and time spent without clothes may help her to know when she needs her potty.

8. Recognise the signs that she needs to go

Pretty soon, you’ll start noticing signs that she wants to go such as hopping from one foot to another, wriggling, and holding her hands between her legs.

That’s when you tell her that it’s time to use the potty and encourage her at this point. If she’s sitting down, she might start rocking back and forth or from side to side.

9. Have more than one potty handy if you can

It’s not unusual for toddlers to have several potties dotted around the house for ease of access – because we all know that when you gotta go, you gotta go and can’t wait for a trip downstairs or whatever before the floodgates open all on their own!

But be careful, because as MFMer Hayley says: “When I was potty training Alice, she had got up early in the morning and obviously decided not to wake us when she needed a wee, instead of getting her potty from the bathroom, she decided that she would use baby born’s doll potty as it was in her room.

“Overflowing was not the word, it was like a waterfall!”

And try to remember where other doll receptacles might be, or you might face vikkijane’s dilemma: “They do the funniest of things don’t they?!

“DD decided to pee in her baby’s bathtub one night because she was desperate to go and then hid it. I could smell wee but couldn’t find it then about 3 days later she owned up! Lol!”

If you can splash out on 2 potties – one for upstairs and one for downstairs – it really saves on having to rush upstairs and grab it or rushing your daughter along to get the one you have if it’s in a different part of the house.

And make sure you tell them that these are the only potties they should be using.

10. Keep calm and take the pressure off

If she resists, don’t pressure her. This will just lead to a breakdown in communication and could set a precedent for conflict between the pair of you and can hinder the whole process.

If she has accidents, try not to let it worry you. The last thing you want to do is let her feel your frustration or see your disappointment – and who wants to give their girl any kind of complex about toiletty things anyway?

Give her praise when she gets it right and ignore it when it doesn’t happen the way you hoped it would. Keep her focused, make it fun and persevere.

Try not to get sucked in to other competitive mums’ stories of success in a super-short time, either, just concentrate on your child.

And remember – she really wants to be dry like a big girl, so she will get there in the end.

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