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Is your child ready for potty training?

Potty training a child is not an easy process and certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.  Before starting toilet training, look for signs your toddler is ready. Beginning too soon can be frustrating for both of you and can make the whole process take longer.

Before 12 months of age, children can’t control their bladder or bowel movements, and some toddlers who show many signs of readiness still are physically unable to control elimination. Even children who can stay dry during the day may take longer to stay dry at night. In fact, you might want to think of daytime and nighttime dryness as two separate potty-training milestones. Most children are ready to begin potty training between the ages of 18-24 months. In some cases, children will not be interested in potty training until they are closer to 36 months. It’s important to remember there is no set timetable and in every child they can be different. I will say in my experience the younger the child the longer the process will typically take and you should expect setbacks. I’ve personally witnessed children that will start potty training very young (18 months) and do great for a bit and then completely stop for a time period. The most important thing to remember is not to force it and don’t get discouraged, they will master it in their time.

Physical signs
  • Is coordinated enough to walk, and even run, steadily.
  • Urinates a fair amount at one time.
  • Has regular, well-formed bowel movements at relatively predictable times.
  • Has “dry” periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows that his bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine.
Behavioral signs
  • Can sit down quietly in one position for two to five minutes.
  • Can pull his pants up and down.
  • Dislikes the feeling of wearing a wet or dirty diaper.
  • Shows interest in others’ bathroom habits (wants to watch you go to the bathroom or wear underwear).
  • Gives a physical or verbal sign when he’s having a bowel movement such as grunting, squatting, or telling you.
  • Demonstrates a desire for independence.
  • Takes pride in his accomplishments.
  • Isn’t resistant to learning to use the toilet.
  • Is in a generally cooperative stage, not a negative or contrary one.
Cognitive signs
  • Understands the physical signals that mean he has to go and can tell you before it happens or even hold it until he has time to get to the potty.
  • Can follow simple instructions, such as “go get the toy.”
  • Understands the value of putting things where they belong.
  • Has words for urine and stool.