What Parents Need to Know About Potty-Training While Social Distancing

With social-distancing and shelter-in-place orders in effect through most of the country, families are spending more time together than ever. Although being with our little ones 24/7 may be stressful at times, when it comes to potty-training your kids, there might be a silver lining. According to Dr. Jean Moorjani, a pediatrician at Arnold Palmer Hospital For Children in Orlando, FL, now is a great time to consider potty-training your children.

What are some benefits to potty-training while social distancing?

Given the current situation, there's ample time for teaching your children to use the toilet, especially because we're spending far less time running errands. "Potty-training is a beast in itself," Moorjani told POPSUGAR. "After sleep-training, potty-training was one of the hardest things I did with my own children and I'm a pediatrician. The one silver lining is that more families are home with their children, so if they decide to potty-train, it's a little bit easier."

According to Moorjani, time is on parents' side right now. "Potty-training during the social-distancing period definitely helps children learn consistently," she shared. "The hardest thing for parents can be going out with a child who is potty-training. Obviously, then your child's not in a diaper and they're trying to navigate where the restroom is. Additionally, parents may be concerned whether or not kids are going to tell them they have to go to the bathroom in time."

Is there anything wrong with potty-training kids at a younger age?

Generally, children are ready to be potty-trained between 18 and 24 months. For parents who are unsure whether or not their kids can be potty-trained a bit younger, Moorjani suggests some experimentation. "If you don't expose your kid to potty-training, you might never know if he or she is ready," she said. "It can be something as simple as getting a small chair potty, putting it in the bathroom that they use, and seeing if they're interested. If they totally ignore it, then you have your answer. But if you talk about it and your little one seems interested, then I think it wouldn't hurt to start to try. From there, if your child starts to show any resistance or any negative interaction happened, then just maybe take a step back for a bit."

What if potty-training supplies are out of stock or difficult to find right now?

Although items like Pull-Ups or washable underpants can make potty-training easier for parents, they're not completely necessary. While the shipping of nonessential supplies has slowed down across the United States, Moorjani said families can make do with what they have for the most part.

"Potty-training during the social-distancing period definitely helps children learn consistently."

"I totally don't think that they need 70 different things to potty-train," Moorjani said. "Some people have it in their heads that they need to get Pull-Ups, but Pull-Ups didn't work for my kids because they were so similar to diapers. They're so absorbent that when they went, they were just like, 'Oh, I'm just going in my diaper.' We actually just used regular underpants."

If parents are to buy one thing to help with potty-training, let it be a small training toilet. "I think getting a smaller potty can be helpful just because the kids learning to potty-train are typically smaller and that may help them feel more secure," she suggested. "If I had to buy one thing, I would get that."

What if parents are too stressed out to potty-train right now?

If you're feeling overwhelmed or super low-energy and have no bandwidth to start potty-training, don't stress! "I want families to know that it's OK to not be the most productive in a global pandemic," Moorjani said. "This should not be another stress added onto families, because we're all under so much stress with either work or school or just mental health in general."