1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

When to Start Potty Training

Signs of Potty Training Readiness


Every child is different, but there are some common behavioral changes and physical development milestones that point to the possibility that your little one is ready to to start potty training.

You don't need to check every single one of these points off before you begin toilet training your toddler, but to ensure that things work go smoothly, you should notice at least some of these signs as you try to transition your child out of diapers.

1. Your little one stays dry longer. As toddlers begin to understand that they can have some control over when they urinate, they will hold it in and may be able to avoid peeing during naps or overnight sleep. As you start to put your child on the potty at regular times during the day, he may begin to try and stay dry between bathroom break.

2. Bowel movements follow a regular schedule. Every day may not be exactly like the last, but you may begin to see that your child has a bowel movement each day, often around the same time of day. This doesn't happen with every child, but if you do notice it, it's a good sign, and you can plan to put your child on the potty at that time each day to help and teach her where poop goes.

3. Your toddler understands the urge to pee and poop. Many parents begin to potty train before a child reaches this milestone. In these instances, the mom or dad takes a child to the toilet at scheduled intervals. A parent may also watch for signs that a child is getting ready to urinate or have a bowel movement (specific facial expressions, or sneaking off behind a chair, for instances, may be signs). Eventually, a toddler will begin to hold in urine or a bowel movement until he's taken to the potty. It may take a while, though, before a child is able to tell you beforehand that he needs to pee. If you start toilet training before your child is able to communicate the urge to go, you should expect and prepare for accidents that come between the times you take him to the bathroom.

4. Your child can pull clothes on and off as needed. Again, some parents may not wait for this sign before beginning to toilet train since mom or dad can be on hand to help a younger child pull pants down. That's okay. In fact, a child who is ready to use the potty but doesn't have the motor skills yet to maneuver clothing, button buttons, or zip zippers shouldn't be held back from starting to use the toilet. You have to recognize, though, that your little one may not be able to do everything on her own. Although, choosing potty training friendly clothes and underwear or disposable training pants that are easy to get on and off can go a long way to boosting independence.

5. Toddlers are able to sit for long stretches of time without distraction. This was a hard one for all of my children. My oldest was actually pretty good about sitting, but she wanted someone to sit with her all the time. Someone to chat with. There was no, "You do your business and let mommy know when you're done." With my second child, sitting with someone wasn't an issue -- sitting in general was a problem. You might agree to letting your child read potty training books, a comic book (that's what worked for my son finally), or other books while getting used to sitting on the toilet.

6. Your toddler shows interest and desire. Sometimes we think that a child can do it, but that child just won't. Many factors can make a child resist using the toilet. It takes time and patience to help identify the issue or to wait for your little one to work past it on her own. In the meantime, try not to push your toddler. Pushing a child to use the toilet before he want to may just make everyone unhappy and can cause problems and set backs..

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.