Sandwich-area docs offer potty training tipsĀ 

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All kinds of issues cause new parents a lot of anxiety. And one of the top stressors is potty training.

"A lot of moms get all worried about this, but they need to remember that each child is unique,'' said Dr. Sylvia Trevino, a pediatrician on the medical staff of Valley West Community Hospital. "The child really has to take the lead. And the parent has to relax."

Trevino shared pointers and words of reassurance in a free "Potty Training Boot Camp" presentation at Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich.

"Most children aren't neurologically or cognitively ready for potty training until they are well into toddlerhood," she said. "Children need to be showing they have an understanding of what the toilet is for, and have the language skills -either through words or pointing-to let their parents know they need to go."

She also stressed that a child needs fine motor skills to remove his own pants and large motor skills to actually sit on a potty seat. So few children younger than 2 years old are going to be physically ready for potty training, she said.

One of the signals of a child's readiness is when parents notice diapers are staying dry for about two hours or are dry after a nap. She reminded parents that training is only effective when the time is right for the child, not the parent.

"It also really helps if the child shows an interest in pleasing the parent," Trevino said. Alongside pleasing the parent, the child will also want to feel pride in his accomplishments. "I'll be talking about reward systems and charts that help children see they are succeeding. Some parents want to offer jelly beans or stickers for using the potty, but that isn't necessary,'" she said.

"I recommend that parents have the equipment they'll need before they even introduce the idea of using the potty,'' she said. That means having either a child-size potty separate from the family toilet or a special seat that fits over the standard fixture. In addition, she said a lot of families benefit from having a doll that "urinates" and watching DVDs on training. And, purchasing "big kid" underwear that reflects the child's interests can be motivating.

Trevino's presentation will also include the "boot camp" approach in which a parent commits to spending about a week at home to enable the parent to escort the child to the bathroom every 20 minutes. "If the child has all of the physical skills necessary to train, this can be a good choice for some families," she said. "Inevitably there will be accidents, but this way the child will actually feel his clothes getting soiled. It will be uncomfortable, and that can speed things along," she said.

Trevino also pointed out that nighttime dryness develops much more slowly, and that there is no cause for concern about overnight bladder control until about age 5. "There is no sense in making a big deal about staying dry overnight. If a school-age child is having trouble staying dry at night, then the family can bring it up with the pediatrician."

Trevino practices with Healthy Beginnings Pediatrics, 1200 W. U.S. Highway 34, Plano. She is currently accepting new patients. For more information, call 630.599.7533.

Local libraries have books and DVDs especially for children, and other titles for their parents, on the subject of toilet training. Following are a few selections.

For children

"Once Upon a Potty: Girl" by Alona Frankel; available in book and DVD formats

"Once Upon a Potty: Boy" by Alona Frankel; available in book and DVD formats

"Everyone Poops" by Taro Gomi

"What to Expect When You Use the Potty" by Heidi Murkoff

For parents

"Toilet Training: The Brazelton Way" by T. Berry Brazelton

"American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Toilet Training" by Mark Wolraich, M.D.