Key Take aways:
- The slow and steady method is a child-centric approach that gives parents and their children the freedom to follow a more natural approach to potty training.
- It is gentler than other approaches.
- There is usually less intensity and conflict with this method.
- Some experts argue it gives the child too much control and may cause parents to lose an ideal window to potty train.
- This is the approach recommended in The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Toilet Training, and it's ours as well.
article summary: Slow and steady potty training is an approach that puts less pressure on the child and parents and focuses more on building their skills and interest in the potty over time. There is really no set deadline with this method. Rather, it is a rather relaxed or casual approach to potty training. With that being said, parents who use this method are usually very intentional about their choice and make it a priority to expose their child to use the potty and help build their curiosity around it. Just unlike more intense programs, it is very focused on not rushing the child, but rather supporting them as they navigate this next milestone at a pace that is more congruent with their needs.
Pros of the slow and steady method include that it is not forceful and often does not create a lot of conflict between the parent and child; it allows the child to feel more in control; it does not involve excessive bribery to get the results you want; and it may help children develop a better relationship with their elimination habits.
Some experts believe this method gives the child too much control and can lead to children who do not fully train until they are well past the ideal age (before age 3). Another con of this method is that it may not be beneficial for people who need to meet a deadline either, such as preschool admission or potty training before a new baby arrives.
When you start thinking about potty training, look at a variety of methods to explore what may work for your child and what may not. You can certainly pick a method and stick with it, or make your own method by piecing together the parts of various methods you would like to use for your child. Finally, if you decide on one method and find it isn't working, you can always switch to a different approach.
There is a lot of competitiveness out there amongst parents, especially when it comes to potty training. But it is completely unnecessary. How you potty train your child should be based solely on what they need in order to feel confident in their skills and ability to respond to their body's needs.
Parents and experts who are big proponents of this method believe that this important milestone should not be rushed or laced with tension, stress, and pressure. Indeed, we have seen some parents and experts in forums compare intensive methods to training for a marathon in one weekend with no prior practice with the expectation they need to win the whole thing. These methods often set unrealistic expectations for parents and their children.
The slow and steady approach lets your child's natural interests and abilities help guide them to master this skill. Many pediatricians support this approach to potty training, which also incorporates many of the guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Many parents approach potty training slowly and steadily, where they introduce and encourage potty use over time. They do not bribe their child to learn the potty, nor do they set a limit on how long they have to learn it. Unlike the 3-day method, this approach can vary in length from child to child. Some parents may start putting their child on a potty seat as early as they are able to sit up to make it just part of their routine whereas others will wait until their child shows interest. When it comes to the slow and steady approach, there really are no set timing guidelines for how to go about potty training.
Just like other potty training methods, you will need some basic potty training gear, including:
- A potty chair or toilet insert
- Step stool
- Flushable wipes
- Fun undies
- A few potty books
You likely will not need to provide tangible rewards, as many parents who use this approach rely solely on positive reinforcement like encouragement and praise. With that said, you can certainly incorporate treats or other rewards if you feel your child would respond well.
One thing slow and steady parents should keep in mind is that your child probably does not need to have their potty chair brought out until you are ready to help them start using it. Some parents (many of us did this, too) feel they need to let their child get used to it or explore it. You can certainly do this, but the potty chair can lose its novelty and the child can lose interest, or it becomes something else aside from a place to potty on (like a laundry hamper or basketball hoop).
- Is a peaceful, gentle approach to helping your child learn to use the potty
- Allows your child to help guide the process
- Reduces conflict between the parent and child
- Does not involve forcing liquids and salty snacks on your child
- Creates less pressure, allowing for a more natural exploration of learning about the potty and their bodies
- If your child is ready it can be quicker and easier in the end than forced potty training methods
- Less stressful on everyone
- Some experts believe it gives the child too much control
- It can prolong their time in diapers, which can be costly, hard on the environment, and be detrimental to their self-confidence
- Some children who do not learn within an ideal window (typically before age 3) may have a harder time learning
- May delay your ability to join daycares or preschools that require children to be fully potty trained (FYI many places do not have these expectations, so just seek clarification for the facility you are interested in).
This Method Is Great For You If:
- You are relaxed about your child staying in diapers for a while longer
- Your child is not in a rush to learn to use the potty right away
- You are not on a deadline
- You are willing to let your child’s natural inclinations guide the experience
- You want a peaceful, fun, and (mostly) easy-going potty training experience
- You are confident that your child will learn when it is the right time for them