Ask The Parent Coach: How Can I Get My Toddler To Keep Her Diaper On?


My daughter is almost 16 months. She is very active and she is now into pulling her diaper off ALL the time. I know all kids go through this stage but what do I do about it and how can I get her to keep it on? I bought her a potty and am starting to teach her how to use it but she would rather just play on it. I know she's still a little young to start potty training, but I just wonder how to go about getting her to keep her pants and diaper on. Thank you.

Hi Mom,

Your 16 month daughter's habit of pulling her diaper down is fairly common. This is a good pre-requisite for potty training - she's got the right idea, but her timing may be a little off. Age 2 seems to be the most common developmental age for potty training, although some toddlers can start being interested at 18 months, others not until age 3.

If your want to take advantage of your daughter's natural curiosity, continue connecting the potty to diaper removal. I suggest having a portable potty in more than one room, so you can easily place her on it whenever she pulls her diaper down.

Use the phrase, "Your diaper is off, so does that mean you'd like to use the potty?" Then place her on it. If she protests say, "Oh, you don't want to use the potty? Then you need to leave your diaper on." However, be careful about giving the message that she's doing something "wrong", otherwise this may work against you when the right time comes for serious potty training.

This is one of those instances when extra parenting patience and guidance is required. Clear instruction and consistant follow-up could be rewarded with your daughter's early mastery of potty training. On the other hand, allowing yourself to become visibly frustrated when she plays around, could undermine the process when she finally is ready to get serious about it.

Another thought: use diapers that fit tighter or dress her in overalls, making it harder for her to rip them off is she is doing this only as an entertainment or an attention getter, rather than as a serious intent or interest in the potty.

The Parent Coach, Jan Roberts, teaches weekly parenting classes and writes a parenting column for 2 newspapers.