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When should I start potty training?

Potty Bear

No more diapers?

It's a question on the minds of any toddler parent. You've spent the last few 2-4 years dealing with diapers and you're ready to move on. But is your child ready?

Your child must be physically and emotionally ready. Most children are ready when they are between 22 and 30 months of age, although we have seen it earlier and/or later in some children. Every child is different. Most children are physically ready before they are emotionally ready. Physical readiness is when the child has developed muscle control over their bladder and bowel. Signs you want to look for to know know if your child is showing interest are:

  • bowel movements occur on a regular basis, on a somewhat predictable schedule
  • bowel movements do not occur at night
  • diapers are dry after waking up or two hours at a time
  • being uncomfortable with dirty diapers and wanting them to be changed
  • asking to use the potty chair
  • asking to wear regular underwear

A traditional potty seat can be used and even be portable to take along on outings.

Watching for readiness

You should also be able to tell when your child is about to urinate or have a bowel movement by facial expression, posture or by what they say. If your child has begun to tell you about having a dirty diaper you should praise him/her for telling you and encourage him/her to tell you in advance the next time. Have them sit on the potty when you change their diaper. Encourage them to be independent and pull their pants up and down on their own.

Potty steps allows your child to use the family toilet while still feeling confident.

Many parents view potty training solely as a physical task and innocently forget their child's deep feelings or emotions on the subject. The first step for your child to be emotionally intelligent is for him to be aware of his feelings. Parents are the perfect people to promote this awareness, and also promote the self management of those feelings (which is the second step.) Allow for expression of feeling and be cautious about forcing or bribing your child to use the potty before he/she is emotionally or physically ready.

Dual seat lid for your toilet. Both adult and toddler seats attached.


Start by encouraging your child to sit on the potty throughout the day, when they get up in the morning, before and after meals, nap and bath time. This will introduce your child to the bathroom routines and most often result in accidental success. Once your child begins having more success put them in underwear (thick training pants are recommended.) The underwear will allow them to feel wet when they have accidents and naturally alert them to go to the bathroom. When you would like your child to sit on the potty let them know that it is "time to try." Asking them "Would you like to go?" gives them the opportunity to refuse.

There will be accidents, this is part of the learning process. The accidents should lessen throughout the first 2 weeks. Some children do experience set backs so do not be discouraged if after several weeks of dry days that your child has had a bad day. Your child's toilet training should be a positive experience. Give it at least two weeks and if it's not going well or becoming a battle of wits, it is best to ease up or stop for awhile. Your child is probably not quite ready, but rest assured, they will eventually come around.

By Penny Weagly, Pre-Primary