Potty Training Readiness

If you have a toddler, you may be wondering when your child will be ready for potty training. Are you excited or dreading this? We’ve got some tips here to help you figure out the potty training readiness of your child.

The most important thing to know, in our opinion, is that you should follow your child’s indicators. They will generally let you know when they are ready and you’ll be on the path to successful potty training!

potty training readiness

Potty Training Readiness

Potty training is a big step for any family. It can be stressful, messy, and frustrating – but it’s also rewarding when you see your little one make the transition from diapers to underwear. Having a plan in place will help decrease the likelihood of messes, but it doesn’t eliminate them completely.

Whether it’s your first rodeo or not, potty training is different for every single child. However, there are common indicators that are similar across the board for most toddlers.

Please note that if your child has special needs, they may not show these signs as other children do. In that case, you will want to talk about it with your child’s doctor who may refer you to an occupational therapist trained in toileting issues.

Setting potty training expectations

Resist the urge to expect the same results and timeline other children have followed. The age your toddler is ready to potty train at is going to be on their own time. Some children start at age 2, while others are not ready until 3 or even 4 years of age. Here are some signs your child may be ready to trade the diapers in for undies.

Your toddler notices when they are wet.

If you notice your toddler begins to pull at their diaper when they are wet, it’s time to buy a potty chair! Take your kiddo to the store and let them help pick it out. This ensures the potty training kick off party is started properly.

Note: some toddlers will never care if they are wet and/or dirty. This isn’t the only sign of potty training readiness. There are plenty more!

Your toddler shows interest.

The first thing most parents notice on their child’s potty training journey is that their child is more interested in using the bathroom. Your toddler may follow you into the bathroom, or even ask questions about your bathroom use.

Some toddlers will strip down and run into the bathroom before they even know how to use the toilet. This is a sure sign they’re ready to at least attempt to toilet train.

Your toddler is staying dry for longer periods of time.

When your toddler gets to the point where they’re able to stay dry for a few hours at a time, that is a sign they may be ready to potty train. If your child is able to sleep through the night and stay dry – even if it’s not every night – they are probably ready to start using the toilet.

Your toddler understands what “potty” means.

No matter which variation you use: potty, toilet, bathroom, or something else – when your toddler is able to understand what it means, this can be another sign they’re ready to transition away from diapers. 

Your toddler can communicate when they need to go to the bathroom.

Not all children will verbally communicate that they need to use the bathroom, but there are other ways your child may indicate it’s time to pee or poop. It’s a good idea to teach your toddler the Sign Language sign for “bathroom”, in case they cannot (or choose not to) communicate the urgency verbally.

Your toddler can undress themselves.

Even if they can’t fully dress themselves yet, if they’re able to pull down their diaper or training pants, your toddler is showing signs of potty training readiness. 

Your toddler can use the potty chair.

If you purchase a potty chair and teach your toddler how to use it, they should be able to get down to the chair (and up from it) on their own. You may want to have them practice when they don’t have to go to the bathroom, just so they’re prepared when it’s time to go.

Your toddler wants to use the toilet.

Each toddler will potty train at their own pace. Not all children will be eager to potty train, so it’s important to be persistent but not to push the issue if your child isn’t ready. When your child starts saying they want to use the toilet, you’ll know they’re ready to start trying.

Your toddler can follow simple instructions.

Being able to follow instructions is another toilet readiness skill. There is a difference in understanding instructions and being able to follow them. Your toddler may accompany you to the bathroom quite frequently before they start toilet training. This is an opportunity to talk to them about the process of using the toilet, flushing the toilet, washing hands, drying hands, etc. 

Once they’re able to follow simple instructions like how to wash their hands, they may be prepared for potty training.

Make it fun!

Making potty training fun rather than stressful is going to make your child feel more like a big kid, and increase their chance of success. Use a reward chart, or make a Cheerio target… get creative and figure out how you can make it fun for your kiddo. 

No matter their age, staying positive and patient is key!

Remember: every child is different. While the average age for toilet training is anywhere from 18 months to 3 years old, if they aren’t ready, they aren’t ready. 

Forcing a child into potty training before they are ready will surely backfire and take even longer than it would have if you had waited for them to be prepared. Most children will be potty trained well before heading to kindergarten, so take your time and be patient. 

If your child is resistant to potty training for an extended period of time, or seems to have a fear of the toilet, you may want to talk to your child’s pediatrician for more potty training assistance. Your child may have some anxiety or other unresolved issues their doctor can help you with.

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