When To Start Potty Training Your Child

when to start potty training

As a parent it can be a very frustrating time for both you and your spouse to know when to start potty training your child. Toilet training before your child is ready can be a frustrating and frequently disappointing experience. Before a child can be potty trained they need a certain amount emotional maturity and physical control.

Most specialists suggest that training should begin when the child is between two and three years of age. The exact age will depend on the child and so there is no set date by which potty training must begin. Understanding when your child is ready for toilet training requires careful observation of their development.

Here you will learn the right age when to start potty training your child.

In a 2003 study published in Pediatrics Journal it was shown that the average age for a boy to become fully potty trained with thirty eight months. The same study stated that girls were able to become potty trained on average two months earlier at thirty six months. The differences between genders is useful to keep in mind if you have previously potty trained your daughter but your son seems to be taking long to use the toilet.

Signs That Your Child Is Physically Ready For Training

There are few signs how you can know when to start potty training your baby. Before your child can begin training they must be able to control their bowel muscles. You should watch your child and see when they are going to potty at the same time each day. Also see if they are able to go through the night without soiling their nappies. Pediatricians advise that children are generally unable to fully control their bladder and bowels before the age of two. Trying to potty train before this age is counter productive because the child simply lacks the ability to adequately control their bodily functions. Your child will also need basic motor sills such as being able to remove their own clothes and being able to climb before training can begin.

Emotional Maturity For Toilet Training

potty training ageAlong with being physically able to be potty trained, they also need to be emotionally ready. Your child will indicate that they are ready for this step by how co-operative they are during training. If they are resisting every step of the way to be potty trained, then they may not yet be ready emotionally to use the toilet for themselves.

When a child resists training it is usually because they are not ready. Common reasons why a child may be experiencing resistance to training is because of changes in their normal routine or environment. Once the feel that their surroundings are more stable they will be more responsive to training. If you experience resistance it is best to delay training and try again later. You don’t want to force a child who is not ready for training as this can create negative associations with using the toilet and stress for the child.

The Problems Of Early Training

In the past it was popular to begin training as early as one year old. Often children would be placed on the toilet until they eliminated. Other coercive methods such as physical punishment and shaming were used in order to teach the child to use the toilet. While these techniques frequently produced short term results they also caused a lot of emotional damage. Children could learn that sitting on the toilet meant that it was time to eliminate, but it still meant that parents needed to observe them to place them on the toilet. It also meant children were prone to regressing and accidents would occur.

When A Child Is Fully Potty Trained

what age to start potty trainingWhile children may begin training around 24 months of age, they may not be completely toilet independent for quite some time. In order to by fully potty trained the child needs a wide range of physical skills which can be quite demanding. This includes being able to flush the toilet, pull their clothes up and down, wiping their own bottom, and understand how the toilet operates. If a child is not completely toilet independent until the age four this should not raise concerns. As noted above it is better to allow the child to learn naturally than to try and force their development.

It can be tricky to know when do you start potty training your baby. Not all children will be ready to start around the age of two, some children might pick it up earlier and others might continue to struggle well into their third or fourth year but it’s important that the parents start training when they feel that their child is ready. One of the key things when assessing your child’s readiness is their ability to communicate. It is essential that your child has the appropriate skills to inform you when he or she needs to go to the toilet so it’s never a good idea to start training before your child can talk and walk.

Key factors determining what age to start potty training

Key factors that should be considered when evaluating your child’s readiness for training are: communication, an interest when others use the bathroom, independence, and having regular dry periods. Let’s take a closer look at these key factors that decide when to start potty training. So before deciding when do you start  training your child keep on reading.


As mentioned, this is an essential ingredient of training as the child must have the ability to understand simple commands and the parents must be able to acknowledge the child’s request for the toilet. The majority of children will be talking at the age of two and should be more than capable of asking for the potty, but if the child is less developed in this area then it might be a good idea to wait a while. Many parents figure out when to potty train based on this criteria alone.

average age for potty training

Identify key words to use when the child needs to go and stick to them, it’s also important to make sure that any other adults looking after your child use these same key words. Many parents opt for the words “wees and poos” as they are short and easy to understand.

Showing curiosity seeing others in the toilet

It is also important that the child shows an interest and willingness to be trained. Many parents find that their child starts to question what is happening when they see their parents and older brothers and sisters using the toilet. Sometimes this can act as a good platform for introducing the potty.

One of the more popular methods used when introducing the child to toilet training involves sitting the child on the potty whilst the parent also sits on the toilet. This works well because most toddlers love to imitate what mum and dad are doing.

Generally, it is also widely accepted that training a child that has an older brother or sister proves to be a quicker and less stressful process than training a first or only child.


Most children are perfectly capable of walking and sitting before they are two but it is essential that they can do this before training starts. One important part of the training process is the ability to encourage your child to understand that they are free to use the potty independently but if the child does not have the confidence to walk and sit unaided then he is not in the right potty training age.

when do you start potty training

In the early stages some parents adopt a technique of allowing their child to run around without a diaper with the potty close at hand. They then promote independence by reminding the child that the potty is nearby should they need to go.

Another less essential part of this area also involves the child’s ability to pull their pants or diaper up and down. Parents will probably need to take the lead in this area to begin with, but after a short period of time the child should be doing this for themselves.

Regular Dry Periods

Before making the decision to start training it’s always worth monitoring the state of your child’s diaper to establish how long he/she is holding their urine and stools for. If your child can stay dry for a prolonged period (normally 2-3 hours) then it might be a good time to start. Research has shown that very few children under the age of 18 months are able to take command of their bladder and bowel movements due to their muscles not being fully developed so starting before this age will ultimately cause problems.

Prior to starting the training, pay attention to when your child has bowel movements throughout the day because as a child reaches the toddler age they will become more regular. Note how many times a day this happens and at what times as this will make things easier when training. Many children often have a bowel movement after breakfast and around evening meal time so try using this as a starting point.

Before you start any kind of training it’s always worth making some kind of plan especially if your child is going to be looked after by other people. Decide on a start date, what approach will be taken to underwear and how to handle setbacks, offer praise and decide on what (if any) incentives should be used.


The key to choosing the right age for potty training, is observing your child rather than having a fixed date in mind. When your child is properly motivated and physically ready for training it is the right time to start them using the toilet. In general the older the child is the easier and faster it will be to potty train them, so there is no need to rush the process. Hopefully you now have some basic knowledge of when to start potty training your toddler.

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One Response

  1. Jasper May 15, 2014

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