Potty training is one of the biggest milestones your child will experience during his toddler years. If you’re like most parents, you dread toilet training. You also know you’ll be relieved when your child is finally able to use the toilet independently.
What’s the best age to potty train? How do you know if your child is old enough and ready to start? Here’s some information to help get you started.
It depends. Most toddlers start potty training between 2 and 3 years old. Developmentally, most children aren’t ready to toilet train until they’re at least 18 months old. Some children may not be ready to toilet train until after 3. Every child is different and will develop this skill at a different rate.
You have the potty seat, the stickers and stars, and the treats. You even made up an embarrassing potty dance to entice your child into ditching the diapers. But unless your child is ready, potty training is going to be a long and difficult process. The emotional and physical readiness of your child plays into their ability to use the toilet consistently.
How can you tell if your child is ready to start? Watch for these signs in your child:
- Getting undressed alone
- Talking about going potty
- Having bowel movements about the same time daily
- Ability to climb up onto a toilet
- No bowel movements at night
- Staying dry for more than two hours at a time or during naps
- Desire to use the toilet
- Willingness to cooperate with you on tasks
Your child’s toilet training experience should be a positive one. You don’t want to engage in a battle of will with your child when it comes to using the toilet. If your child resists going to the bathroom, they may not be ready for toilet training. That being said, it’s normal for your child to have bad days, or to even regress during stressful times. Just try again when your child seems ready. Let your child be the guide when it comes to the timing.
For most children, toilet training can be accomplished in about three months, and girls typically toilet train earlier than boys. Sickness, stress, a new baby at home, and other situations may lengthen this time period for your child.
You’ll know your child is potty trained when they recognize they need to go to the bathroom and can climb up and use the toilet by themselves. Most kids will need help wiping after bowel movements until about age five. It may also take that long for your child to be comfortable using an unfamiliar or public restroom alone.
Toilet training is a process. Some kids pick it up easily and never look back. And for others, toilet training means semi-frequent accidents for several months. As long as your child is progressing and willing to keep trying, you’re on the right track. When accidents do happen, simply remind your child they need to go in the toilet, and clean it up. Eventually, things will start happening in the right place at the right time. Just remember, it’s never helpful to yell at, belittle, or punish your child for having an accident.
Even if your child is trained to use the toilet during the day, they may still be wetting the bed at night. This can happen for months to years after being fully potty trained during the day. Some children will struggle with nighttime bedwetting until they’re well into grade school. The good news, however, is that most children eventually stop wetting the bed at night. If your child is still wetting the bed after they start school, it may be time to talk to your child’s doctor.
Toilet training your child is tough. In most cases, you simply need to be patient and keep trying. However, you should call your doctor if:
- Your child doesn’t use the toilet during the day after they turn 4
- Your child continues to soil his pants regularly after they turn 5