Successful potty training is all about setting developmentally appropriate expectations and providing positive reinforcement to motivate your child while avoiding struggles. It is important to remember that every child is different and even siblings in the same family will have different potty-training experiences.
Although there is no set age to begin potty-training, most children start to show interest between 18-24 months old. Let your child’s cues let you know when the best time to start is.
When to start potty-training?
- Stays dry at least 2 hours at a time during the day or is dry after naps
- Bowel movements become regular and predictable
- You can tell when your child is about to urinate or have a bowel movement
- Can follow simple instructions
- Can walk to the bathroom and can help undress
- Seems uncomfortable with soiled diapers and wants to be changed
- Asks to use the potty
- Asks to wear “big kid” underwear
What are other potty-training tips?
- Choose words used to describe body parts and urine and bowel movements. Be consistent with the words that you use to prevent confusion. Speak confidently – your confidence with instill confidence in your child.
- Pick a potty chair. Your child should be able to easily sit on the potty with feet touching the floor or a stool. It is okay to move the potty chair outside of the restroom if this makes your child feel more comfortable.
- Know the signs: before having a bowel movement, your child may grunt or strain, squat or stop playing for a moment. Explain to your child that these are signs of having a bowel movement. He or she may tell you afterward that they wet or soiled themself. This is a good sign; praise them for telling you and suggest next time they sit on a potty chair.
- Make routine trips to the potty. If your child seems ready to urinate or have a bowel movement, suggest a walk to the potty to sit and read. It may also be helpful to make trips to the potty a regular routine, such as first thing in the morning, after meals and before naps.
- Be positive and make potty training fun! Let your child know how proud you are of their attempts to use the potty.
In general, the potty-training process will take 6-8 weeks for most children. However, it is very normal for children to have accidents after they are potty trained. Children may have nighttime accidents for several years after they are potty trained during the day. If you have concerns about accidents discuss these concerns with your child’s pediatrician.
Just as everyone has a different opinion about the best time to begin potty training, every parent you know is also likely to use or recommend a different training method. It is not necessary to use any single method. Just be ready to adapt to the cues from your child for readiness and timing. Potty training should be fun, and it is important to not make it confrontational. Accepting and adjusting to your child’s personal style can make toilet training much less stressful.