There is no set age when a toddler is ready for potty training. The entire potty training process is subjective, such that even siblings may have been potty trained at different ages. Generally though, potty training readiness occurs when the toddler hits 18 months until three years old.
The Mayo Clinic explains that more than physiological preparedness, potty training also has something to do with the emotional readiness and maturity of a child. “Potty-training success hinges on physical and emotional readiness, not a specific age. Many kids show interest in potty training by age 2, but others might not be ready until age 2 1/2 or even older — and there’s no rush. If you start potty training too early, it might take longer to train your child.”
Wondering if your not-so-little-one is already showing signs that he/she can be potty trained? Here’s what you have to watch out for:
- Does the child speak already, and does he have words to describe urinating and defecating? If he/she is familiar with this – no matter how they call it – then at least they will soon be able to communicate with you when he/she feels the urge to pee or to poop.
- Can they already sit by himself in a potty or a similar-sized chair, and get up from it when needed? If you answered yes, then at least you know that you do not have to physically carry and sit your child into the potty chair whenever they have to pee, poop or practice.
- Can your child already verbalize if they want to pee or poop or if not, can you tell through your toddler’s actions if they are peeing or when they are having a bowel movement? If you are aware of the signs that your toddler is peeing in his diapers, or you see them in a certain corner or having a weird facial expression or posture (some babies grunt, others go down on all fours, some bend down, and some squat) while pooping in their diapers, then you can definitely start practicing the use of a potty chair.
- Can your child already remove their underpants without your assistance? You can always start potty training even if your child will need your assistance to remove their training pants when feeling the urge – but there will be more accidents this way because they may not be great yet in holding their pee or poop.
- Can your child tell if they are wearing soiled or wet diaper? Have you observed obvious discomfort on your child when their diaper is wet or has been pooped on? If yes then this will help them be more open to the idea of using a potty chair.
- Can your child follow simple instructions or directions? If your toddler can already follow directions like “go there,” “There’s the potty,” “Sit there,” then maybe you can introduce potty training already.
- Does your child show interest in the toilet or the potty chair? Does they even attempt to open it and sit down on it even with their diapers on? Being interested in the chair is a good sign that they are becoming ready for potty training.
- Does your child‘s diaper stay dry for relatively longer periods of time, like at least two hours? This may mean that their excretory system is starting to mature and ready to switch to underwear.
If these signs are already evident in your child then that indicates that you can explore potty training with them. On the other hand, if you have yet to observe the above-mentioned signs on your child then you might want to postpone potty training for the meantime, until you have observed more indicators.
You may also want to postpone potty training in the meantime if there is a transition that will take place such as the birth of a younger sibling, or if you are moving residences. These changes are stressful to the child, and they may not be able to respond well to yet another transition which is potty training. It is best to try and accomplish potty training before any big changes in their lives but not during or immediately afterwards.
But if there is no major transition that is taking place, and your toddler seems already prepared to take on potty training, then it is time to move on with this endeavor.
As a policy at our daycare, if the child is not asking to use the washroom regularly and is still using the washroom in their pull-ups, then they are not ready for underwear. We ask to keep up with the potty training using pull-ups until they are accident free for at least a week before switching to underwear. Unfortunately we do not have the time to be cleaning up messes nor can we expose the other children to unhygienic surroundings. Your child must remain in pull-ups until they are ready by demonstrating the above readiness signs. Please also review our policies which cover toilet training.