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How to Know When Your Child Is Ready for Potty Training
How to Know When Your Child Is Ready for Potty Training

Potty training is a significant milestone for both parents and children. It can be exciting, challenging, and sometimes frustrating. But how do you know when your child is ready to start the process? Here are some tips based on pediatric research to help you decide.

The Signs of Toileting Readiness

First, you need to look for signs of physical, cognitive, and emotional readiness in your child. Physical readiness means your child can control their bladder and bowel muscles and stay dry for at least two hours. Cognitive readiness means that your child can understand and follow simple instructions, communicate their needs, and recognize the feeling of needing to go. Emotional readiness means your child shows interest in using the potty, wants to wear underwear, and is willing to cooperate with you.


Most children develop these skills between 18 to 30 months of age, but every child is different. Some may be ready earlier or later than others. Research has found that children who start potty training before 27 months may take longer to complete the process, while children who start after 32 months may have more accidents and difficulties. Therefore, the ideal time to start potty training is between 27 to 32 months for most children.

Finding the Correct Method

Second, you must choose a method that suits your child’s personality and learning style. There are many different methods for potty training, but they are all proven to be better than others. However, two methods that have some evidence of effectiveness are the Child-Oriented approach and the Azrin & Foxx method.

Child-Oriented Method

The Child-Oriented approach is gradual and led by the child. It involves showing your child the potty and modeling toileting for them. You let your child sit on the potty with clothes on first, then gradually introduce them to sitting without clothes and using it when they feel like it. You praise your child for their progress but do not pressure or punish them for accidents or refusal.

Azrin and Foxx Method

The Azrin & Foxx method is intensive and led by the parents. It involves setting aside a day or two to focus on potty training with your child. You dress your child in loose clothing or underwear and give them plenty of fluids to drink. You take your child to the potty every 15 minutes and prompt them to use it. You reward your child with praise, stickers, or treats for successful toileting, but do not scold or shame them for accidents.

Pros and Cons

Both methods have pros and cons, and you should choose the one that works best for you and your child. The most important thing is to be consistent, patient, and positive throughout the process.


Finally, it would help if you were prepared for some challenges and setbacks. Potty training is not linear; your child may take months or longer to master it. Some common problems that may arise are stool withholding, stool toileting refusal, hiding to defecate, encopresis (leaking stool into underwear), and enuresis (wetting the bed). These problems are usually temporary and resolve with time, but sometimes, they may require further investigation and treatment by a doctor.

Developmental Delays

Suppose your child has special health care needs or developmental delays, such as Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, or cerebral palsy. In that case, they may need extra support and guidance from an occupational therapist, developmental pediatrician, or other specialist to achieve successful potty training.

Speak With your Doctor

Potty training can be a rewarding experience for both you and your child if you follow their cues, respect their pace, and celebrate their achievements. Remember that every child is unique and will learn at their rate. Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse if you have questions or concerns about potty training. For more information on childcare check out our blog.


Toilet Training: Common Questions and Answers | AAFP

An Evidence-Based Approach to Potty Training – Psychology Today

Toilet Training | Pediatric Patient Education | American Academy of Pediatrics

Intervention Ideas: Toileting Children & Youth 0–5 | AOTA