When to start potty training – is your child ready?
If your child shows signs that they’re ready for potty training, then it’s probably the right time for you and your little one to embark on this journey. They know best what’s going on in their little bodies, as well as their minds – and while it can be hard to get them to tell you things, there are a few simple signs that it might be time to take on potty training.
When it comes to the best potty training age, as you’ll know with kids, not everything happens when it’s meant to. Children grow and develop at different stages. They may have been an early walker or talker – but struggle with keeping dry.
And don’t feel you need to rush into it, just because other parents are. Take your own time – making them use a potty or toilet before they are ready is likely to be as unsuccessful as trying to get them to eat their veggies!
There is no “best age” to start potty training, you will know when your child is ready but generally speaking most little ones are ready for potty training between the ages of two and three. And often girls get there a few months earlier than boys. If your little one is showing little to no interest and fast approaching their fourth birthday, start educating them through books, songs, fun little games, and even apps to encourage them.
Feeling clean is something children of all ages enjoy – they just might not know it yet. Knowing the right time to potty train your child will boost their confidence and happiness, as well as your own.
This article covers:
- Signs your child is ready for potty training and how to slowly get started
- Best time for potty training
- 5 top tips to get kids ready for potty training
Signs your child is ready for potty training
The easiest way to know when to start potty training your child is by picking up on the signs that they’re ready. These can be as obvious as them shouting in the middle of a restaurant that they need a poo, or as subtle as them running behind the sofa every time they need to wee.
- Awareness: Becoming aware they have a wet or dirty nappy
- Realisation: Realising they’re weeing and telling you
- Physical signs: Grabbing their trousers, fidgeting, or hiding somewhere when they need or do a wee or poo
- Staying dry: Having a dry nappy for at least an hour or two
- Verbalising: Knowing that they need to wee and saying so, or asking if they can use the toilet
The quickest way to potty train your child is by teaching them to grasp the concept of verbalising the need to use the toilet. When they can tell you they need to wee or poo, you are then able to guide them to the next steps, such as using Baby Soft® toilet tissue.
Most children do learn to control their bowels before their bladder by the age of two. But only by the age of three do 90% of children have consistent dry days.
If you notice any of the other signs apart from verbalising, it can still be a good time to start some potty training steps – you may just have a few more accidents along the way.
A good tip is to record any signs you see to make sure it wasn’t a once-off. If your little one keeps pulling at their nappy before they do a wee – and they’re comfortable getting on and off the potty themselves – then it is probably worth giving potty training a go.
Best time for potty training
Getting extra help and support when potty training can make the transition from nappies to toilets a little more straight forward. This can mean using the time of year to your advantage. When they’re not wearing as many layers (if anything at all) on warm summer days, it can be the ideal time to avoid accidents when potty training.
Summer potty training is popular for this reason. Not only do they not have to struggle to get their pants or underwear down in time, but washed clothes will dry much quicker if they do have an accident. But if they are showing signs before the warmer weather, do not put potty training off as you don’t want to miss your window of opportunity. Potty training is not seasonal.
Can you delay potty training?
Timing is everything with potty training. It’s not just about them being physically ready but also mentally ready to switch from nappies to potties. If your child is going through a big life event or experiencing disruption in their home life, it can be best to wait a while before starting.
Potty training usually works best when your little one is feeling settled. Routines may help make the process more successful as well as easier and quicker for all involved.
It can be worth delaying potty training if:
- If your child is unwell or has been recently unwell
- You have recently moved home
- A new sibling has arrived
- Your child has recently started pre-school or nursery school
- Parents are separating
- You are about to go on holiday
If potty training is underway when an unexpected disruption occurs, it’s worth persisting with your new routines. Make sure you can take their potty with you wherever you go to keep things on track. The article on potty training and going out may help to guide and support you.
Getting kids ready for potty training – 5 top tips
The idea of using a potty will be new to your child, so it’s important that you ease them into it. Before you start potty training, you can gradually prepare them for it with a few simple potty training steps:
- Talk to them – When you’re changing your child’s nappy, explain to them what’s happening so they can associate it with a wet nappy. Use bathroom language, such as ‘wee’ and ‘poo’, but in a way that makes it sound natural, so they’re not embarrassed. Try not to say things like ‘Ugh, who did a stinky poo?’ as this can make them embarrassed and shy about going to the toilet.
- Dress for the occasion – Start dressing your child in appropriate potty training clothes – underwear and pants that are easy to pull up and down, try avoiding buttons or zips. Getting your toddler to pull them down and up before and after changing their nappy should help them associate the two acts and transfer this over to using a potty.
- Show and copy – Leave the potty in the bathroom where they’ll see it. If you have older children, letting them watch and copy can be a great help. Otherwise, when changing their nappy put the poo into the toilet and allow them to help you flush and wash their hands to start the clean routine.
- Introduce underwear – Show them that wearing underwear is something special and exciting, as some children are reluctant to stop wearing nappies. The feeling of still wearing a nappy can lead them to continue previous behaviours.
- Practice with a potty – Let them sit on the potty to get used to it, ideally around the time you change their nappy. It’s also a good idea to teach them what it’s for by mimicking its use with their toys.
Discover more potty training tips with these recommended Baby Soft® articles: