What Are the Signs That Your Toddler Is Ready for Potty Training?

Reviewed on 6/29/2021

potty training toddler
Here are signs your toddler may be ready to potty train, and how you can ease the process

When it comes to potty training, there’s no set “right time” to start. Each child is different, and while some may show that they’re ready for potty training at ages 1.5-2, others may take as long as 3-4 years.

Patience is key. Don’t give in to pressures from well-meaning friends and family and let your toddler set the pace. Signs that your toddler may be ready for potty training include if they:

  • Can pull down their own diapers, training pants, or underwear and pull them up again
  • Shows an interest in visiting the potty or wearing big-kid underwear
  • Tries to communicate to you that they need to go potty even if their diaper is already dirty
  • Understands and follows basic instructions and copies your behavior
  • Can keep their diaper dry for at least 2 hours
  • Can walk to, sit on, and get off the toilet seat

It’s important to keep in mind that even if your toddler shows a few or more of these signs of readiness, potty training should be postponed if there’s going to be a major change that may disrupt their normal routine. These changes include the arrival of a new sibling in the family, relocating to a new place, etc.

Tips for potty training your toddler

When it is time to begin potty training, here are tips that can help you ease the process:

  • Choose your words carefully. Do not use negative words, such as dirty or stinky, when referring to the potty.
  • Get them used to the equipment. Place the potty chair in the bathroom. Initially start by letting your child sit on it. You can demonstrate by throwing the contents of their diaper in the potty. Let your child flush the toilet.
  • Schedule potty breaks. Take your child to the bathroom every 2 hours, as soon as they get up in the morning and after they wake up from a nap.
  • Instill a sense of urgency. Let your child know that they should head to the toilet as soon as they feel like pooping. Look for signals like squirming, squatting, or holding their genital area, and respond quickly. Let your child get familiar with these signs, stop whatever they are doing, and take them to the toilet. Dress your child in loose clothing that can be easily removed.
  • Teach them to practice good hygiene. Teach your child how to wipe from front to back after using the potty to avoid the spread of germs from the anus to the vagina. Ensure that your child washes their hands thoroughly after each potty session.
  • Ditch the diapers. After a few weeks of successful potty training and dry diapers, see if you can start ditching the diapers and replacing them with training pants or underwear. If your child is still wetting their pants, you can switch back to diapers and continue potty training.

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References
Mayo Clinic. Potty Training: How to Get the Job Done. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/potty-training/art-20045230

National Health Service. How to Potty Train. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/babys-development/potty-training-and-bedwetting/how-to-potty-train/

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