Many parents wonder when the right time is to start potty training their little one. Like learning to crawl and walk, potty training is a milestone that your child has to learn. So how do you know your little one is ready to be weaned off of diapers? Find out when to start potty training, signs of readiness to look out for, and how to start potty training.
When will your little one be ready for potty training?
You should start potty training only when your child starts showing signs of readiness. Healthy kids typically show physical and emotional readiness to use a potty between 18 months and 4 years old. Girls tend to display signs of readiness earlier than boys. Most parents start potty training their children between 2 and 3 years, but there is no official age to start potty training.
That said, a child under two years cannot control when they pee and poop until they’re about 18-24 months. This is why it is crucial to wait for signs of readiness, as starting too early may only serve to derail this milestone even further.
Signs of readiness to look out for
Here are some common indications of readiness for potty training to look out for:
1. Your child displays interest
Before you introduce potty training, your child needs to show an interest in learning how to use the potty. You can help cultivate this interest by watching videos and reading children’s books about using the potty and bringing it up casually in conversation in your daily parenting life. By modeling healthy toileting habits, you encourage your little one to have the desire to learn to use a potty. However, you don’t want to put too much focus on the topic as this could prove to be counterproductive.
2. They’re aware of when they go
You may notice that your child starts to hide behind curtains or furniture, or goes to another room to poop or pee in their diaper. This is an outright sign that your child is aware of when they are in the process of going. Keep in mind that you are keeping an eye out for your little one's awareness of pooping or peeping, rather than your own ability to pick up on your child's "tells"
3. Your child stays dry
If your child can keep his/her diaper dryer for at least two hours or more when awake and/or occasionally wakes up with dry diapers, it shows that their ability to control their bladder is improving. This is a key indicator that your little one may be ready for potty training.
4. They begin to show independence
If your child begins to show eagerness in doing things on his/her own when it comes to dressing and feeding, as well as displays an interest in trying new things, they are probably ready to start potty training.
5. They can undress
Potty training requires your child to be able to easily take off and put on their training pants or underwear with ease. You can make dressing and undressing easier for your little one by avoiding clothing that will make it difficult for them to take off and put on during a bathroom break, such as rompers and tights.
6. Your child can sit still long enough to pee or poop
To start potty training, have your little one can get on the potty, sit on the potty long enough to poop or pee without getting distracted or irritable, and get off the potty.
7. They can follow simple instructions
Another sign that may indicate readiness for potty training in children is the ability to follow simple instructions. You may also notice that your child likes to copy your actions, including bathroom habits.
8. Your child can communicate
Your child can understand and communicate that they need to go. For example, he/she might say "I need to go poo-poo", or simply signal that they need to go to the bathroom.
How can you prepare your child for potty training?
Even before your child starts to display signs of readiness for potty training, you can prepare them by trying these tips:
- Keep a potty chair around your house. Explain to your child its purpose and how it works.
- Use kid-friendly bathroom lingo like “poop” and “pee”, or more formal jargon like “defecate” and “urinate” if that’s what you prefer. This will allow your child to become familiar with what’s happening when you’re changing a dirty diaper or using the toilet.
- As your child gets older and starts to show readiness for potty training, show him/her how you get rid of the poop in his/her diaper, and allow him/her to put it in his/her potty or flush it down the toilet.
How to start potty training
Once you notice signs of readiness for potty training, follow these tips to ease the transition from using diapers to toilets:
- You can start by encouraging your little one to sit on the potty and get comfortable being on it. He/she can do this fully clothed. Talk to her about what the potty is for to get him/her used to the idea.
- Once your child is comfortable sitting on the potty by himself without being prompted, the next step is to try to get him to do it with his diaper off. This might take a while, so be patient. Avoid trying to force your child to sit on the potty if he doesn’t want to.
- Follow a consistent schedule for potty training. You want to ritualize using the potty so that it becomes more of a habit. The routine can consist of them removing their pants or shorts first, their training pants or underwear next, and to sit on the toilet for a couple of minutes, allotting more time if they have to poop. To pass time, you can read a book or listen to music.
- Teach proper hygiene by introducing the habit of handwashing every time your little one gets off his/her potty.
Potty training is hardly smooth sailing, so the last thing you want to do is underestimate the process. Keep an eye out for signs that your child is ready, and be prepared for when they do. While the thought of not having to rely on diapers as much is certainly exciting stuff, patience is key with potty training – work with your little one's pace. Good luck!