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When Should Parents Start Potty Training Their Toddlers?

An important milestone in a young child’s life is potty training! While potty training is an exciting time, it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for parents. Many parents worry about what age they should start potty training, and the best methods to use. The truth is, there is not a specific age that a child must be potty trained by; every child develops at their own pace. However, most families begin their potty training journeys when their child is between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old. It is important to pay attention to the child and follow their lead. Readiness, patience and consistency are key to potty training successfully.

Signs your child is ready to begin potty training

Each child develops at their own pace, but there are some signs of readiness when it comes to potty training. They are:

  • Shows interest – this may look like them wanting to sit on their potty chair, or asking questions about the potty.
  • Can go 2-3 hours without a wet diaper – when they’re able to go long stretches without wetting their diaper, this could be an indicator that they’ve established some bladder control.
  • Able to pull down/up, their pants independently – having independence will make transitioning to pull ups/training underwear easier.
  • Can communicate that they need to use the potty – being able to communicate the need to use the potty indicates that they recognize the sensations their body has right before elimination. Remember, communication can be verbal or non-verbal.
  • Is uncomfortable in soiled diapers

How long will it take to potty train my child?

Again, it is important to understand that every child differs. Some children may get the hang of it after a couple of days or weeks, while some might need more time. Consistency is important – each caregiver must be on the same page when it comes to potty training. It is also very important not to rush a child to potty train earlier than they’re ready. If the process is focused more on ensuring that the child feels encouraged without feeling too overwhelmed, they are more likely to be successful.

Tips for potty training successfully:

  • Make sure the potty chair is easily accessible. If using an attachment on the regular toilet, ensure there is a step stool they can easily maneuver.
  • Have them sit on the potty to get comfortable.
  • Use books to discuss potty training with them.
  • Consistency! It is important that each parent and all caregivers are following the same routines.
  • Expect accidents! When there are accidents, do not punish them.
  • Let them pick out their new underwear to build excitement and enthusiasm.

 Daytime potty training vs. nighttime potty training

 While patience and consistency go a long way in encouraging potty training during the day, nighttime potty training, specifically, depends upon developmental readiness. During sleep, many children are not able to control their bladders even if they’ve managed to learn control during the day. In fact, most children are not fully out of nighttime pull ups until the age of 5, and many are much older than that before they are able to successfully stay dry overnight. One way to help them stay dry is to incorporate going potty during their bedtime routine. If they’re able to empty their bladders right before bed, this may make accidents less likely to happen. Even so, expect accidents. Be prepared by having a mattress protector on their bed, and have extra sheets available to make clean up quick and easy. Again, it is very important that children are not punished for having accidents. The less stress there is, the better their chances are of being successful.

 Indicators that your child might be successful at nighttime training:

  • Consistency with staying dry during the daytime.
  • Can wake themselves throughout the night to use the potty.
  • Wakes up with dry pull ups in the morning.

 Potty training can be a stressful time for families, but with patience and consistency they can alleviate some of the stress. Children show signs of readiness, and their readiness should guide the potty training journey. Parents must understand that every child develops at their own pace. By allowing the process to be child-led parents can encourage and celebrate their child reaching a very important milestone!