- Written by Lynn U. Nichols Lynn U. Nichols
Five signs your toddler is toilet ready As a parent of a baby or toddler, no doubt you are looking forward to the day you can ditch the diapers. The expense to you and the environment alone are reasons enough, but not having to change a dirty diaper ever again is the major win. The trick with toilet training is not letting your anticipation of the finish line motivate you to start too soon. If you try before your child is ready, you set yourself up for relapses and frustration. That’s because toilet training is not really about training, it’s about readiness—and it’s her physical body that decides that. So, how do you know when it’s time?
First, here are the stats: most kids learn to use the toilet between 27 and 33 months of age—but earlier or later is just fine. Some show early interest, but may not have all the physical skills to follow through. Here are the top five signs that your child is ready to use the toilet.
1. Going at regular times
Toddlers are ready to tackle the toilet when they have regular bowel movements and show signs of holding off the urge to go. Does your toddler wake up dry after a nap or stay dry for hours? Does he go #2 at fairly consistent times during the day? Does he jump up and down like a jack rabbit, pull at his pants, squat, or make a screwed up face when he needs to go? If so, he may be ready!
2. Shows curiosity about the toilet
Another part of readiness is when your child has an ah-ha moment when it comes to the toilet. This mental awareness includes knowing that the toilet replaces diapers and that no diaper means dry pants. A sign your child has cleared this mental hurdle occurs if he knows potty talk, like pee, poop, wet, dry, messy, potty, flush. Another sign is that he’s curious about the toilet and watches or asks questions while you or an older child are using it—let him watch and learn.
3. Gives play-by-play or hides
Hiding is a sure sign that she is getting the message that when you poop or pee, you go off and do it alone. It’s also a sign that she’s becoming aware of her bodily functions. Also, if she wants to run around naked sometimes, let her—being naked can motivate her to seek out the toilet, but also feeling the pee flow down her leg gives her immediate feedback of how it all works.
4. Knows how to undress
Being potty-ready takes a lot of motor skills. A big requirement is if he can pull his pants up and down and climb up on the toilet. Some parents swear by pull-ups as a gentle move from diapers to underwear, others think they are confusing to kids. To make it work, treat them like underwear and take your toddler to the bathroom at regular intervals.
5. Dislikes feeling wet
Is your child starting to tell you that her diaper needs to be changed? Or, is she tugging at her diaper and fussing? Toilet training happens when your child realizes she doesn’t like being wet or soiled. It takes your child’s physical readiness—like being able to hold it—to make it stick.
Once your child seems ready, you can help her by tuning into her patterns and presenting the toilet at key times. Mornings are often a sure bet. Now’s the time to put a training toilet in the bathroom or her bedroom and letting her know it’s her big girl toilet, but don’t insist that she use it. If she does, give praise. Talk about the potty in a positive way. Read books and watch videos about using the potty. Eventually, she’ll react to your praise and begin using it more frequently. In no time, diaper days will be a thing of the past.