The easiest age to potty train is when your child starts broadcasting that they have a need to pee or poop. This can occur around the time they begin walking and have some muscle mastery.
Other signs that your child is ready to start potty training include an interest in other people using the toilet and the ability to pull their pants up and down.
At this age, toddlers are usually very curious about the potty and have an idea of what it is. They can usually sit on the toilet and often stay dry during waking hours. However, nighttime potty urges are a challenge to quell (and waking up during the night is not always an option for parents).
Toddlers may start toilet training anytime, which usually happens quickly. Some kids are ready to go commando (naked, pants only) in one day, and full training can take just a few days or a few weeks. However, many children need to be trained in stages, starting out with naked diapers and then moving to pants as their bladder and bowel become more mature. It’s important to use a consistent strategy and have all caregivers — including grandparents, babysitters, and childcare workers — support the same routines. This will help avoid confusion and frustration, especially if accidents occur frequently.
Many children will begin to notice their mother or other adults using the potty at this stage, and this can be a big motivation to start training. They are also more aware of what goes on around them and can often sequence events such as getting dressed or eating meals.
Boys can be taught to urinate standing up on the potty, but it is best for them to learn to sit first so that they can practice sitting for a long period of time. This can help prevent urinary tract infections and encourage a good flow of urine. It’s also helpful to teach them to wipe from the front to the back, as this can reduce the risk of skin irritation.
For toddlers, age 2 is generally considered the best time to start potty training. They’re physically ready to sit on the potty chair and most likely have some awareness of when they have a bowel movement (and they may tell you if they feel a wet diaper or a runny butt).
Some parents try to push their kids to get out of diapers earlier than this, but it’s a little different from walking, crawling, and putting together words — those are developmental milestones that come naturally to babies and toddlers, as long as the environment is right. Getting out of diapers to pee and poop isn’t so easy. That’s why, instead of going by age, you need to watch for signs that your child is ready, like a desire to avoid wet and dirty diapers, a desire to dress independently, the ability to follow simple commands, the ability to communicate verbally or with sign language when they need to go, and if they can pull their pants up and down.
If you start your kid on the potty chair, make sure to teach them how to wipe themselves (from front to back) to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections and give them plenty of opportunities to practice. It also helps to introduce your kid to the bathroom by letting them see you use the toilet and by setting up a baby bath or sink for them to play in. Finally, encourage them to say the official words for pooping and peeing so they become familiar with them. (This is especially important so they don’t end up embarrassed with slang terms when they’re older.) And remember to always encourage them when they do a good job of using the potty.
The average child in the United States isn’t potty trained by the age of 18 months. This is because many kids in this age range haven’t yet developed their own bladder and bowel control. They also might not be emotionally ready to give up diapers.
If your child has good motor skills, is able to stand or sit in a potty chair, and can communicate, they’re probably ready to start training. Look for signs of readiness, like a strong desire to wear underwear instead of a diaper and refusing to have a dirty one put back on. They may also start tugging at their diapers and asking to have them changed, which is a good sign that they’re interested in the process.
Try to train at a time when you and your child are both in good moods. It helps to avoid any big disruptions in your child’s routine, such as a move or a vacation. Plan to take your child to the potty every 30 or 60 minutes for a few days, ideally in the morning and after meals, before and after naps, and before bedtime. Try to stay consistent, so your child can learn the connection between these events and the potty.
When your child is sitting on the potty, say “potty” in a clear and calm voice. It’s best to avoid using slang or baby talk, as your child will need to understand that when you say “potty,” you mean pee and poop. You can also encourage your child to use the potty by offering praise when they are successful. Also, consider removing your child’s pants before they go to the potty. This is an easy way to help them feel more comfortable.
If your toddler is expressing an interest in wearing underwear and they can follow simple directions, they might be ready to start potty training. They may also begin to express a desire to go to the bathroom by themselves or show an awareness that their diaper is wet. If they are able to communicate their needs to you, you can help them start training by showing them the toilet and talking about what it does. If they are interested in watching other family members use the toilet, this is another sign that they are ready to start.
It is important to avoid rushing potty training at any age. If your child is already amid other big changes, such as moving, having a baby, or starting kindergarten, it can make it harder for them to accept the transition to no more nappies.
Many families choose to slowly introduce potty training at this point, switching from disposable Pull-Ups to cotton underwear. You can also try to reduce accidents by limiting dairy and other foods that cause soft stools, which helps keep them feeling dry longer.
It is crucial to remember that the most important thing for a child’s successful potty training is not their chronological age but their emotional readiness and ability to cooperate. This includes being healthy (free of urinary tract and bowel problems) and motivated by encouragement and rewards rather than pressure or coercive methods like punishments for accidents. This approach can lead to a more positive experience for both the child and parent and avoid any negative feelings about this developmental milestone. Children who feel frustrated or overwhelmed by potty training will be less willing to work at it, so the goal is to make the process friendly and cooperative for everyone involved.
When kids get older, they’re ready to learn how to use the potty on their own. But it’s important to remember that they’re used to being diapered. From the time they come out of the womb until they start walking, crawling, and talking, diapers are their constant companion. Using the potty is a new skill that requires some help from parents and takes time.
The good news is that many children will pick it up quickly, especially if they’re motivated. Some toddlers are eager to ditch the diapers, while others may need more encouragement and reinforcement to stay motivated (and dry). Rewards and incentives can also make all the difference.
A child who is ready to use the potty will start to express a desire to do so and will pull at their wet or dirty diapers. This is the best indicator of readiness, although there are other signs, too, such as a regular schedule or an interest in potty training (e.g., watching older siblings use the toilet or asking to go).
Some kids may start to show signs of being ready around 18 months, but this can vary widely. If your child isn’t ready, resist pressure from family and friends to start training them early. And, if your child does start to train, be prepared for accidents at night and during naps. Until they’re fully trained, most kids will need a diaper or pull-up for sleep and nap time. And that’s fine! It’s a process that takes time, and every child is different. It may be time to try something else if you’re not seeing progress. When your child is ready, trying again later can be more successful.