How to Teach a Child to Wipe [Potty Training]

Potty training your toddler comes in many stages. And if you’re searching how to teach a child to wipe, congratulations! You’re almost to the finish line!

Teaching your child how to wipe is often the final step in their potty training journey. And once they learn, you won’t have to do it for them anymore.

That’s pretty big reason to celebrate in my book.

But teaching this essential skill is sometimes easier said than done. These simple tips will help your little one learn to wipe in no time.

Do it For Them First

Once your toddler is comfortable going poop on the potty, you may be tempted to jump right in and teach your child how to wipe. But taking the time to do it for them at the beginning is a good idea.

Use the time spent wiping your child to teach them the proper technique and explain why it’s important to do a good job wiping each time.

Wiping helps remove the poop, along with germs, from their bottom. Those germs are not only dirty, but they can also make them sick if they aren’t removed each time.

Every time you wipe, explain what you’re doing – from telling your toddler how much toilet paper to use to where to put the dirty toilet paper after wiping.

By repeating the process each time, your toddler is more likely to absorb the information and follow the same steps when they’re ready to do it themselves.

When Can Children Wipe Themselves?

Just like any other part of the potty training process, the age of the child is just a small factor in their readiness to wipe themselves.

That means there really is no magic age that your child will automatically be ready to wipe their own butt.

Children can usually start wiping themselves between the ages of two and three with help from an adult. However, the younger your child is when they start potty training, the longer it will take them to be able wipe independently.

Some children grasp the concept of wiping during the beginning stages of potty training while others just can’t seem to master it no matter how many demonstrations you give.

The key to learning how to wipe is practice, no matter how old your child is. So, give your toddler a chance to practice their skill each time they go and help them out as long as they need it.

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child holding a role of toilet paper near the toilet

Wiping Essentials

Make sure you set your toddler up for success by providing them with everything they’ll need to learn how to wipe.

These potty training essentials are must-haves for teaching your child to wipe:

  • Strong toilet paper. Skip the cheap toilet paper during this phase of potty training. Instead, opt for a brand that’s thick and strong to ensure it won’t rip while your toddler is learning to wipe.
  • Flushable wipes. It’s also a good idea to have some flushable wipes on hand to make wiping a little bit easier during the learning phase because damp wipes will catch more than dry paper after each wipe.
  • Hand soap. While encouraging hand washing after each potty is important throughout potty training, this stage is the most important. Be sure your child’s hands are clean and germ free after each wipe by providing them with kid-friendly hand soap in an easy-to-reach place.

How to Teach a Child to Wipe

Although wiping may seem like a simple gesture that we don’t think much about as adults, it’s a foreign concept to toddlers. Your potty training toddler will need detailed instructions on each step of the wiping process.

If you’re not sure how to explain how to wipe to your toddler, outline these steps:

  1. Use a piece of tape to mark a spot on the wall indicating how much toilet paper to use.
  2. Pull the toilet paper off the roll and rip it on the dotted line.
  3. Fold the toilet paper in your hand.
  4. Reach around and wipe from front to back and drop the dirty toilet paper in the toilet.
  5. Pull more toilet paper off the roll and rip it.
  6. Fold it up in your hand.
  7. Reach around and wipe from front to back, then look at the toilet paper. If it’s clean, you’re done wiping! If it’s dirty, carefully fold it and wipe again.
  8. Drop the toilet paper in the toilet.
  9. Close the lid and flush.
  10. Pull up your pants and wash your hands with soap and water.

Demonstrate the Actions

Actions speak louder than words, after all! While you can explain the process to your child over and over, showing them how to do it may be a more effective method.

Start by showing your child exactly how much toilet paper they need. Do this by using a piece of colorful tape and placing it on the wall below the toilet paper roll. This gives your toddler a concrete example of when to stop pulling toilet paper.

Next, give them a lesson on how to fold the toilet paper for wiping. Show them how to fold it over so it’s double or triple thick. Then, show them how to reach around and wipe (with your clothes on, of course). It’s especially important to teach wiping from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria and causing infections.

In addition to showing them what direction and where to start wiping, it’s also important to give them a stopping point to keep them from wiping poop up their back.

Then, show them how to dispose of the toilet paper when they’re finished wiping.

You can demonstrate on yourself or use props like a teddy bear or doll. I love this video of a teacher showing her class how to wipe using balloons!

Giving a Helping Hand

When your toddler is first beginning to wipe on their own, it’s important to stick around and lend a helping hand. The first few times your toddler wipes, they probably won’t do a very good job.

To ensure they’re clean after each bowel movement, it’s a good idea for you to do a wipe or two on your own after they’ve finished wiping.

To encourage your toddler to wipe on their own, start by allowing your toddler to do small steps, giving them more and more independence each time.

Start by letting your child tear off the toilet paper and wad it up for you, then wipe for them. When they’re comfortable getting the toilet paper ready, allow them to do the first wipe and finish the job on your own.

Finally, allow your toddler to do all the wiping, giving them a final check before you let them get up.

Check on Them Occasionally

Even after your child has mastered the art of wiping, it’s a good idea to check on their progress from time to time.

Children this age often rush through important steps in order to get to more important things, like playing with their toys, so they may not be wiping properly every time.

Continue to monitor your child’s wiping process during their bathroom visits to ensure they’re getting themselves clean. And be sure to encourage them to wash their hands thoroughly each time they’re finished using the bathroom.

Offer Rewards

If a reward system worked for your toddler during the beginning stages of potty training, bring it out again to help them practice wiping.

Let them put a sticker on one of our fun potty charts to help them track their progress with wiping themselves. Whether they’re excited about getting stickers on a chart or a small snack after a good wipe, these simple rewards are a great way to reinforce good behavior.

And if you don’t want to continue rewarding your toddler with stickers, food, or toys, simple words of encouragement are often enough to show your child they’re doing a good job.

No matter how you choose to praise your child, be sure to let them know how proud you are each time they demonstrate their independence and do a good job wiping on their own.

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