6 Signs Your Toddler is Ready to Potty Train

Find out if your child is ready to toilet train.

If your child is around the age of 2, you’ve probably noticed that potty training is the next big thing on most parent’s minds. After 24 months of changing diapers, you’re likely eagerly awaiting this major milestone in your toddler’s life. 

But pushing a child to potty train can backfire. While there are plenty of methods that promise quick potty training results, these techniques don’t work unless your child is ready. Moreover, these “quick results” often only partially potty train a child. Full potty training can take much longer — several months, even up to a year. But the more ready a child is, the smoother the process is likely going to be. 

So, how do you know if the time is right to potty train? These six signs can signal it's time. 

1
Your toddler is old enough to potty train.

Boy on potty
Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

We’ve all heard stories about the parents who potty trained a six-month-old infant, but most children aren’t ready to use the potty until they are at least 2. That said, children develop at different paces, and the age range for potty training can span from 18 months to 3 years, and sometimes even 4 years old. It’s also commonly thought that girls tend to be ready at a slightly younger age than boys, but most parents and professionals agree that by age 3, most children should be able to potty train. 

2
Your toddler has reached appropriate developmental milestones.

Being able to go to the bathroom requires physical and mental skills — milestones that a young toddler may have yet to reach. Some of these developmental milestones include: being able to identify and communicate the need to go to the bathroom; the ability to pull his pants up and down; even sitting on the potty requires certain gross and fine motor skills that babies and young toddlers may not possess. 

3
Your toddler is interested in the potty.

signs that your toddler is ready to potty train.

Most families will purchase a potty seat before a child is ready to train. There’s a good chance that with the arrival of a potty, the child will be excited, but if she isn’t ready to use it, that excitement will die down. 

Explain to your toddler what the potty is for and tell her when she wants to use it, she can. Ask from time to time if she wants to sit on it, but don’t push her to use it if she’s not ready. Your toddler will eventually start to show interest on her own. 

4
You toddler has periods of dryness and bowel movements are predictable.

If your child's diaper is staying dry for longer periods of time, such as during nap time or for several hours during the day, that’s a good sign that his bladder muscles have developed to the point that daytime potty training is possible. Bladder control at night will come later — most children will be fully potty trained during the day months, or even years, before they can stay dry overnight. 

Bowel movements should also be happening at predictable intervals. This makes potty training easier because you will be able anticipate when your child will need to go.

5
Your toddler wants to be independent.

You’ll hit a point in a toddler’s development where the signs of independence are everywhere. From wanting to choose clothing to dressing (or attempting to dress) himself to actively telling you to let him do things on his own, these are good signs that toilet training is not far off. 

6
Your toddler isn’t going through any other major transitions.

Transitions seem to be around every corner in a toddler’s life. If your child is in a daycare center, she might be moving classrooms; if you’ve been home, you may be starting a preschool program a few mornings a week. You may also be transitioning from a crib to a big kid bed or welcoming a new baby to the family. All of these changes can be emotionally turbulent for a young child, and potty training shouldn’t begin when another big transition is underway. 

If your toddler isn’t quite ready to potty train, don’t worry. Big changes happen quickly at this young age. If now is not the time, it could be a matter of only weeks or a few months before he is ready. Revisit this list from time to time to determine if your child is ready to potty train. 

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