Children who have Down syndrome may potty train somewhat later than their typically developing peers. Potty training tips written for most kids are likely to help with a child who has Down syndrome as well, but perhaps just a little later. Visit our Resources page for some ideas to get you started with potty training in general.
What follows is a series of common challenges and possible solutions to consider when potty training a child who had Down syndrome.
Challenge: You know a child with Down syndrome may potty train later than a typically developing child, but you’re not sure how long to actually wait.
Solution: Look for the same signs of readiness as you would for any child, but be aware that these signs may come a little later. One thing to keep in mind is that children with Down syndrome may have lower muscle tone overall, and this can impact bladder and bowel function, lending to the extra time needed in order to be ready to train.
Challenge: Most of the readiness signs seem to be there but your child just can’t sit still long enough.
Solution: Use what engages him. Bring in some small toys or books, sing songs together, or practice your signs. Be creative to keep him sitting there.
Challenge: Your child has a hard time sequencing or processing the steps necessary for using the potty.
Solution: Print out the Potty Time Sequence Cards, laminate and display in the bathroom. If your child needs the steps broken down even further, consider adding such steps as “Pull down pants”, “Sit still”, etc. Collaborate with your child’s special education teacher or other specialist who can help you come up with the appropriate steps for your child’s needs.
Challenge: You’re talking to lots of moms who have done this before with their little one with Down syndrome and the advice is conflicting.
Solution: Take a deep breath and remember, just like with everything else, your child will train in his own time. It’s great to get advice and tips from those who have done this before, but put your own child’s personality and your instincts at the top of your list of things to pay attention to.