Teaching proper bottom wiping is critical in a child’s hygiene journey. Start training as early as potty training begins, typically between 2 to 3 years. Remember, every child is different; some may master this by age 3, while others might take until age 5. The goal is a clean bottom and good hygiene habits, so be patient and encouraging.
Teaching your child to wipe his or her bottom properly can be achieved at a very early age.
Yet, many older children seem to grapple with personal hygiene. Many parents don’t give this issue much thought beyond their child adopting a good dental hygiene routine.
📌 According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children show readiness for toilet training between 18 and 24 months, but the skill of wiping effectively may not develop until around age 4 or 5.
Personal hygiene goes beyond simply brushing your teeth twice a day. Many parents believe a consistent toilet routine linked to hand washing comes naturally.
Yet these are learned practices that should become a habit but are not given serious consideration.
A child’s learning phase should overlap all dexterity milestones. The sooner parents begin teaching their children good hygiene habits, the less likely their child will experience issues resulting from poor hygiene practices.
This could be a controversial subject for some parents, but it is an extremely important part of how well your child will cope in the world beyond the safety of your home.
Let’s delve a little deeper into bottom wiping and related good hygiene habits.
Table of Contents
The potty-training ritual
This is usually an exciting time for parents as it shows growth and independence. Some babies are ready to begin potty training at about 18 months old, while others are ready between 2 and 3 years old.
Potty training should typically begin when your baby shows these signs that are ready:
- Your baby can walk and even run steadily
- Shows signs of improved bladder control. Your baby has at least two hours of dry spells or remains dry during nap times. This shows that their bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine
- Regular bowel movements at predictable times
- Your baby can sit down in one position for two to five minutes
- Able to pull their pants down and up again by themselves
- Dislikes wearing a wet or dirty diaper
- Shows interest in other people’s bathroom habits and wants to wear underwear instead of diapers
- Gives physical or verbal signs to indicate when they’re having a bowel movement, such as grunting, squatting, or actually telling you they’re going
- Demonstrates a desire for independence and takes pride in their accomplishments
- Your baby is generally cooperative and shows interest in learning how to use the toilet
- Your baby understands their body’s physical signals that it’s time to go and can tell you before it happens or even holds it until they can use the potty
- Your baby can follow simple instructions and answer basic prompts like “potty time”
- Has simple words for urine and stool
When your child is ready to begin with potty training, it’s imperative that you teach the entire ritual, which includes the correct wiping technique and washing hands afterward.
Toddlers learn by imitation; watching you use the bathroom is a natural first step.
One of the most important things you’ll need to teach your little one during potty training is wiping correctly.
The toilet paper moves from front to back for both boys and girls. This is the most hygienic option and cleans more effectively.
This is particularly important for girls when they have bowel movements as it avoids contracting an infection. Urinary tract infections, while uncommon, may be more likely in girls.
You need to keep an eye out for signs of infection and visit your doctor if you suspect a possible infection.
Bottom wiping readiness 101
Teaching your child to wipe his or her bottom should begin in the potty-training phase.
📌 A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care found that many children do not master wiping until they are 4 to 6 years old, with independent wiping typically achieved by age 6.
A sign that your child might be ready to start wiping themselves is when they tell you they are finished. Knowing when they are done and ready to hop off the potty is a big first step.
Begin wiping training from the time your little one uses the potty. Tell your child what you’re doing as you wipe, so they start associating wiping with feeling clean.
This way, your child will understand the value of proper cleaning even before they try to do it themselves.
Teaching your child how to use toilet paper properly is vital to good hygiene. Here is a basic guide to help you establish a hygienic wiping technique:
- Unroll, tear, and fold the toilet paper. You need to ensure that the toilet paper is within reach. Show your child how to tear the toilet paper along the perforated lines and how to fold it.
- The recommended amount of toilet paper to use is to measure from the wrist to the elbow, then fold it over to cover the hand. Have your child practice laying the folded toilet paper flat in the palm of their hand. They should avoid scrunching the paper in a ball. The idea is to cover as much of their bottom as possible to reduce the chance of getting poo on their hands.
- Make sure your child covers the correct area with the toilet paper, reaching from behind and wiping from the front to the back. This takes a fair amount of practice, and you should allow for mishaps as they are inevitable.
- The clean test is important. Teach your child to check the paper to see if it’s clean before dropping it into the toilet.
- Once the last wipe reveals clean toilet paper, the task is done, and flushing the toilet should signify this.
- Finally, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Not all young children can reach their bottom when training begins. Simply try and guide them until they can reach properly.
This may take some time and could be the case until they are at least six years old.
Getting your child to wipe themselves properly can be a drawn-out process, and you will need to be there to ensure they can do it themselves.
You could make some reminder stickers or pictures of the entire process to put up in the toilet or bathroom. Try and make learning fun for your child.
As your child progresses, encourage them to check with you to ensure you’re happy with their accomplishment.
You can either finish wiping and offer encouraging feedback or congratulate them on a job well done.
Your child must be aware of expectations. Keep to one standard – a clean bottom. You should likewise manage your own expectations through coaching and support.
Teaching children how to wipe is a rewarding challenge, much like learning how to drink from a cup.
You should feel proud that your child is showing the confidence to wipe and have a clean bottom, and you should help them develop the skills to do so.
Wiping tips and tricks
Learning how to wipe is a straightforward exercise that is usually mastered over time. Be patient and encouraging while your little one is learning, and focus on the importance of getting that clean feeling.
Try to keep the ritual a positive experience and praise your child now and then on how well they are progressing.
Take what your child knows about the importance of keeping bad germs away through handwashing and baths and relate this to having a clean bottom.
Don’t get bogged down in frustrations; otherwise, you risk proper wiping being seen as a chore that your child may resist.
A wiping activity on a paper plate
Introducing wiping activities can be a fun way for your child to learn about wiping. Begin with a paper plate and add a smear of peanut butter to the middle of the plate.
Get your child to wipe the peanut butter off with correctly folded toilet paper. Next, smear some peanut butter on their arm or behind their leg and get them to wipe it off.
This is a good motor skills exercise that highlights that one wipe is never enough.
Another good tip is to use your hand to physically guide the child’s hand to reach back and wipe. Get your little one to hold the paper, then guide their hand to reach around and wipe their bottom.
You should encourage your child to do as much as they can themselves but help them when required.
You could also begin by doing most of the wiping and letting your child finish the last wipe. As you progress, you should give them more responsibility to wipe themselves clean.
At times, two wipes may appear to be enough if the poo is firm. Wet poo may require more wipes to get a clean bottom.
The result should always be a clean bottom, which may result in some toilet paper wastage, but it’s a small price to pay for good hygiene.
Helping older children to wipe properly
It’s fairly common for young children to break with what they have learned about good toilet hygiene and go into a lazy phase of not wiping properly.
However, some children up to 12 or 13 may suddenly develop poor toilet hygiene for various reasons, such as sensory issues.
One reason might be sneaky poo or encopresis, which is typically an involuntary release of small quantities of poo in children four years or older.
This condition is believed to be related to a lack of fiber in their diet, which can be corrected. In some cases, sensory loss is possible after recurring encopresis, and the rectal muscles need to be re-trained.
Lifestyle is another contributing factor that should be looked at, particularly among children who overindulge in video games, programs, and social media.
They tend to suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) and will simply allow accidents to happen while at their screens. This is where you should try new parenting skills that are not threatening but rather viewed as caring.
If your child develops an aversion to proper wiping, the consequences can be dire, from bullying and humiliation to depression.
It is always best to seek professional medical help in such situations. Networking with other parents who are dealing with similar issues can help shed light on what the possible causes could be.
However, clarify what you have learned with your doctor.
To sum up
Effective wiping is an important part of potty training that should be monitored and improved until your child can confidently perform the task on their own.
You can check dirty laundry to see if your child still practices good toilet hygiene, so there is no need for embarrassing checks.
A healthy diet and balanced lifestyle are important aspects of good toilet hygiene and habits. But the big takeaway is teaching your child early how to wipe properly – from the rear, front to back. This ensures cleanliness and mitigates possible infections.
At what age should a child be able to wipe their own bottom?
It largely depends on when you begin teaching your child this skillful art. Children do not learn at the same pace; some learn quickly, while others require more coaching.
Children should be able to wipe their bottoms properly between the ages of 3 and 5.
When are kids too old for mom to wipe their bottom?
There is no set age limit on this essential obligation. Some moms wipe their child’s bottom for a lot longer than anticipated. Your focus should always be on personal hygiene and teaching your children correctly and at the appropriate time.
Your child should be able to wipe his or her own bottom by the time they go to school, but periodic accidents may still occur.
Is it best to include wiping in potty training?
Most people in the know suggest teaching your child to wipe during potty training. Children like to emulate others and will most likely watch what you do when you use the toilet.
Use this time to explain the full process. This will make learning much easier for your child. Learning at opportune times sows the seeds of good toilet hygiene.
How can I make the learning process easier for my child?
Use simple, step-by-step instructions and demonstrate the process. You can use props like dolls or soft toys for practice. Encourage and praise your child for their efforts to make the process more engaging.
What if my child has trouble reaching their bottom?
Assist them initially and consider using flushable wet wipes for easier cleaning. As they grow and their dexterity improves, they’ll learn to reach and clean properly.
How do I address hygiene issues with older children who still struggle?
Revisit the basics with them and ensure they understand the importance of cleanliness. Be patient and supportive, and consider a check-in system to gently remind them until the habit is established.