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How Old Should a Child be to Wipe Their Own Bottom?

In this article, you'll learn the answer to the eternal question, “When can kids wipe their own butts?” along with other questions that plague parents of the newly potty trained.

So, how old should a child be to wipe their own bottom?

The answer is a bit complicated.

When can kids wipe their own butts?

There, I said it. It did occur to me there were other ways to phrase it, but I didn't see the benefit in dressing up this pig.

It's a question on most toddler's parent's minds…when can kids wipe their own butts?

It's gross, but it's a question that pops up in every parent's mind at one time or another. The day I never have to hear, “Mommy! I'm doooooone!” again, will be a glorious one!

But, first and foremost, bathroom independence is a huge deal for kids!

We are well aware of how our kids like to do things “all by myself“, and pottying is no exception!

Montessori encourages this independence in all things!

So, when can my child wipe his own butt?

child reading on the potty. When can kids wipe their own butts?
Photo by: Jay Ryness

So, what's the answer?

Well, after some research and interviews with several veteran moms, I have some thoughts to pass on to all the parents out there, just waiting for the day they don't have to lean halfway into a freshly pooped in the toilet every time nature comes calling to their most precious little one.

You're welcome!

My toddler wants to wipe his own bottom

Can I wipe my own butt?“. Most children show a keen interest in doing things all by themselves, even wiping themselves.

Though your child may not be quite ready to do a good job at it, this is a great opportunity for you to teach them how to do it correctly.

Some kids will ask earlier than others and most of them, no matter what the age, will not do a good job in the beginning.

Everyone I interviewed recommended (I recommend it, too!) wiping after the child.

You can also teach your child to use a couple of flushable wet wipes after wiping with regular toilet paper.

When can kids wipe their own butts? Wiping butt after starting school

Kids going to school need to learn how to do it. It isn't something you can wait on.

But you can still do it for them, or wipe after them when they are at home.

Transitioning your little independent pooper into a full-fledged big kid doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing process. You do have the opportunity to make sure they at least get a good butt wiping when they are at home.

I would definitely keep this up for a year or two after school starts.

Help! My kid uses too much toilet paper!

Kids can get a little crazy with the toilet paper sometimes. It's important to make sure they are using enough, but not so much that you are going to have septic tank issues and clogged toilets.

People use, on average, 8 pieces of toilet paper per potty trip. (Yes, there are statistics on this.)

Now, there are obviously many factors that come into play when determining how much to use, but it's a good idea to show your child how to measure the amount by wrapping it around their hand.

My rule of thumb is “3 wraps and a slide“.

That is, wrap the paper around the hand 3 times, then slide your child's hand out. Kids tend to want to wad the paper into crumpled balls for some reason.

That can lead to yucky hands!

When your child gets a little older, you can talk with them about waste and environmental concerns, but for young children, making sure we keep clean butts and hands takes precedence.

Does early potty training mean early bathroom independence?

Age of potty training might affect the efficacy of wiping. “Practice makes perfect”.

So, the more time your child has spent on the potty, the more practice they have gotten.

So, the early potty trainers might be ready just a little sooner than your average-aged potty trainers!

toilet paper
Photo by: Carlos Ebert

Should parents of the opposite gender be wiping their child's butt?

A child's sex is going to play a role in determining when they are ready to wipe for themselves.

Girls need to be taught to wipe from front to back and the importance of being thorough should be stressed.

As every grown woman knows, females are more susceptible to Urinary Tract Infections (UTI).

So, girls are going to need extra instruction and for longer.

Kids might also have a preference about which parent wipes them, especially after a certain age. It's often the parent of the same gender they will request.

Of course, you should aquiest when possible, but you should also make sure to give other parent instructions.

Make sure dad understands how to properly wipe a girl. (Older siblings, too!)

Your child might wait until mommy gets home to poop or, after pooping, choose to sit on the potty and wait for the preferred parent to get home.

It's important, especially when it comes to anything related to potentially embarrassing situations, to let your child make this choice, when possible.

If you want to do some preemptive work on this front, I suggest having both parents take turns wiping, to hopefully prevent a preference.

Child reading on toilet.

Child is embarrassed about parents wiping their butt

There comes a time when most kids start to feel a little shy about being naked around others.

Kids also start to notice that other people like to have a little privacy when they use the loo.

This is a great time to push your little potty-er out of the nest, so to speak. Kids go through this at varying ages.

As long as your child has demonstrated dexterity and passed a series of “wipe-behinds”, they are good to fly solo!

How do I explain to my child why it is important to wipe well?

This is a simple, but important step. Kids are developing reasoning at this age.

Explain, in simple terms, what happens when you don't wipe well. Kids are so intelligent.

They absorb information like little sponges and they always want to know “why”.

So, this is a great opportunity to give your child's reasoning skill a little boost!

Be candid with him. Just explain to him why it's important to keep his butt clean.

child on a potty chair. When can kids wipe their own butts?
Photo by: Todd Morris

And there are plenty of good reasons. “If you don't wipe well, your butt could get itchy.” or “If you don't get all the poop off your butt, it might be smelly.” or “If you don't clean all the poop off, you might get a little rash.”

All of these things may seem pretty minor to you, however, they will make a major impression on your little one!

How can I help my kid wipe better?

Thankfully, we live in a day in age where there are products to help kids clean themselves available! Yippee!

Everyone's favorite product seems to be these ( My kids call them “Froggy wipes”) and these (a recommendation from the eco-conscious parents).

So, there you have it! After the potty, there's the after-potty…the wiping.

Overall, you should strive to make every part of independent toilet learning a positive experience for your child.

So, when can kids wipe their own butts? When did you let your child wipe his own bottom? I'm hoping for feedback, as always!

Cheers and don't forget to subscribe!

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Jonathon Porada

Sunday 20th of October 2019

Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It's the little changes that make the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!|