Skip to main content

Health Library

Pondering potty training? Here's a primer

It's hard to say if potty training is harder on parents or kids. A little patience makes it easier on both.

To train or not to train. It's the first and most important question in the realm of potty training.

Kids may begin showing signs of being ready between 18 and 24 months. Or they may not be ready until 30 months or older.

Your child needs to be ready physically and emotionally for toilet training. Rushing your child usually doesn't work.

The American Academy of Pediatrics lists these signs that your child may be ready:

  • Regular and predictable bowel movements.
  • Facial expressions, posture or words show that a bowel movement or urination is about to occur.
  • Your child can follow simple verbal instructions.
  • Your child seems uncomfortable with dirty diapers and wants to be changed.
  • Your child asks to use the toilet or potty chair or to wear grown-up underwear.

When training, choose your words carefully. Whatever words you use to describe body parts, urine and bowel movements, your child will repeat them in front of friends, teachers and relatives.

Let your child watch you use the toilet. Sometimes seeing an adult go to the bathroom provides a strong incentive.

Encourage your child to tell you when he or she is about to urinate or have a bowel movement. Recognizing these urges is your child's first step.

Teach your child the proper hygiene for bathroom use. Girls should wipe from front to back. Boys and girls need to wash their hands thoroughly.

Every child is different, so be patient and expect the unexpected. Remember, once you get through this you won't have to change any more diapers.

reviewed 11/8/2019

Related stories

Choose Language