Is Your Child Ready to Start Potty Training?
While children often progress on big milestones around the same time, there’s no exact age when they should start potty training. Every child is different. In general, parents should start looking for signs of potty training readiness around 24 months. Very few kids are ready to potty train before that. Look for these signs:
- Pulling at a wet or dirty diaper.
- Hiding to pee or poop.
- Showing interest or copying the behavior of people who are using the bathroom.
- Staying dry in their diaper for longer than usual.
- Waking up dry from a nap.
- Telling you that they’re about to go or have just gone.
If your child shows at least two of these signs, they might be ready to start. Take the Pull-Ups® Potty Training Readiness Quiz to help you decide.
When NOT to Push Potty Training
Even if your child has shown signs of being ready — or you’ve already started the process — big life changes can mean a setback or be a reason to hold off on potty training. Especially if you have a child with a cautious, shy or high-energy potty personality. These kids, in particular, do their best in a calm and settled environment.
Here are 10 examples of when NOT to push potty training:
1. The birth of a sibling. Having a new baby around can make some children want to take on the role of Big Kid, which could bode well for potty training. Many kids, on the other hand, may revert back to being a baby to get their parents’ attention. If your child is clear in their desire to be a Big Kid when their new sibling arrives, charge ahead with potty training. Otherwise, you might both benefit from taking a break.
2. Major family changes. Moving to a different home, parents splitting up or any other big change can be really stressful for kids — and holding off on potty training can make sense.
3. Transitioning from a crib into a toddler bed. Toddlers have a lot of steps on their journey to becoming Big Kids, and wearing Pull-Ups® training pants and learning to use the potty is just one of them. If they’re tackling reasons #3-6, adding potty training too might be too much to handle at once.
4. No longer using a bottle at night.
5. Being weaned from breastfeeding.
6. Stopping the use of a pacifier.
7. Starting at daycare or preschool or switching to a new school. While there are some good ways to get ready for preschool potty training, know that starting or switching preschools can mean kids are temporarily lacking the calm desired for potty training.
8. Illness. Imagine how you feel when you’re sick. Sometimes, hauling yourself off the couch or out of bed to use the bathroom can take all your energy. For a little one who’s potty training, it can feel like an even bigger challenge.
9. You’re in the middle of the holidays. While there’s no best time of the year to start potty training, know that the holidays can be tough. Your toddler might struggle to stay focused if there’s already a cascade of candy, many late nights and excitement in the air.
10. Pressure from others. If some external force — like a preschool or a well-meaning relative — is pressuring you to potty train your child but your child isn’t ready, go with your gut. Watch for cues from your child that they’re ready, and trust your instinct and observation.
Remember that this isn’t just about your toddler. You don’t need the extra burden of potty training when things are stressful, either! Waiting until things are calm can help ensure the potty training journey will be pleasant — and successful — for the whole family.
Tips for Successful Potty Training
As you start potty training, one of the most important tips is to try to remain patient. Never use punishments or threats and try to ignore accidents and negative behavior. Give your child choices as refusals are usually about them wanting to be in control of their bodies.
Make potty training fun. Check out these fun ways to kick off potty training and potty training games.
If you pay attention to your child’s needs, potty training can be a lot easier for you both. Watch for signs they’re ready, and be aware of big reasons to hold off. Tailor your approach and any rewards to their personality. And remember that you can’t force a kid to potty train. Know when to encourage and when to back off.