Many aspects of raising a baby can be very stressful for the first-time mom. We tackle "one step at a time" and take the challenges as they come. Many of those challenges are rather easy to face, but when it comes to potty training, even the strongest of moms can be brought to their knees at the mere thought. When it's all over, however, you will wonder why it stressed you out so much because some kids have a very easy transition and are actually proud to get out of those "baby diapers."
Although it may be tempting to start trying to potty train early, don't give in to the temptation. The little guy or lady will often let you know when it is getting close to time to start the training. One way you may discover that they are ready is that they start indicating to you when the diaper is dirty or wet. This indicates that they probably know that something their body did caused the discomfort in the diaper and that often means that they are ready to start controlling the muscles that caused the discomfort in the diaper to happen.
It goes without saying that if the child shows visible signs of wanting to "use the potty" like a grownup or older sibling does, it's probably time to start potty training. Many physicians agree that the time most children are ready to start the training is when they are between 18 months and 2 years. In most cases I have known personally, it's much closer to the 2 year mark than 18 months. I have also read that there's no reason to panic if the child is still not potty trained at 2 1/2 years or even 3 in some rarer cases.
Remember that you want the child to feel that he or she has accomplished something to be proud of, so don't be afraid to give praise. It is a good idea to stop at praise, however, and it is not recommended to reward using the potty by giving food or candy or any other kind of tangible reward. A hearty "good job!" goes a long way with positive reinforcement. You may think that a two year old is too young to need things like self esteem boosts, but it isn't true and it is good for a child of any age to feel good about him or herself.
When you are potty training, remember to take the little one to the potty numerous times per day. Start with every 60 to 90 minutes, especially if the child isn't able to successfully use it. On the other hand, if it has been a long time that the child hasn't used the toilet or wet the diaper or training pants, you will want to place him on the potty seat more often than once an hour. Children often urinate a hour after drinking more than a few sips and have one daily bowel movement, also about an hour after eating a lot of the time.
Never force the child to "sit there until you go." Eventually they will be able to recognize when they need to go instead of just announcing when it's too late, but in the beginning it will be good to set a pattern.
Use a potty training seat, either stand-alone or one to clip onto the regular toilet. Don't sit the child on the "grown up toilet" and expect them to hold themselves on it so that they don't fall in. That is a very scary place for a two year old without a child potty seat connected.
The first thing to learn if you are potty training a child for the first time is that there will definitely be accidents. Even if the training is going well during the daytime, consider using pull-ups for overnight wear to avoid bedwetting because it will most likely be possible for a while even after full training is accomplished.
Some parents find that having the child help to clean up accidents is a successful tool in making them want to try harder to use the toilet. There are many good resources available on the net, from the library, or most likely from your pediatrician's office that will help you to know when the time is right and how to handle any situation that you may face when potty training.