Signs Your Toddler Is Ready to Start Potty Training & How to Get Started
You’ve heard the mothers at the school gate chattering about how their little genius was diaper-free before the age of two! And what about your nephew who refused to perch on the side of a potty, much less a toilet, until he was almost ready for school? These stories can strike fear into even the most laid-back of mothers.
In fact, one of the most stressful parts of parenting kids is knowing when your child is ready for the next step.
So, what’s the right time for a child to start their potty training journey? The truth is, like all developmental milestones, there’s no one-size-fits-all.
Kids are programmed to go at their own pace. And despite all your valiant efforts – if they’re not ready, they won’t learn.
So, it’s worth knowing the green-light signs for potty training so that you don’t waste time or put your kid off potty-perching for life.
Telltale signs that your kid is ready for potty training
The diaper cycle has slowed down
Up until 20 months, it’s unrealistic to expect bladder control from a baby. They’re simply not built for it yet. As they pass the 20-month milestone, their bladder muscles should strengthen to the point that they can stop the flow.
As your toddler starts to hold in their pee, you’ll notice that you’re using fewer nappies. You may even amazingly make it through a few nights without any much if any, wet nights. A good rule of thumb is to wait until your toddler can go two hours without needing to use the toilet. Once they’ve hit the two-hour mark – they should be ready to take on the potty!
Communicates when they need to go
Your toddler doesn’t need to broadcast every bowel movement to you; they just need to reference it every now and then. If they’re aware of what’s happening and what needs to be done – they’re definitely ready to start the potty-training process.
Tip: If your toddler mentions their bodily functions, it’s a good window of opportunity to start explaining that it’s a natural process. Suppose you treat toilet-related topics as taboo or something that needs to be kept quiet. In that case, they may associate the potty with negative connotations and be less eager to start potty training.
Your toddler’s bowel movements are predictable
Predictability in your child’s bodily functions is often a promising sign of future success. A regular rhythm helps you to anticipate when to pull out the potty, which lessens the chance of failure or a melt-down. So, if there’s a regularity to your child’s bodily functions, keep the potty nearby during those times.
They show disgust at dirty diapers
If your toddler hates dirty diapers and wants nothing to do with them, that’s a good sign they’ve matured to the potty-training stage. Most toddlers, at some time, will become averse to personal messes. This is the golden opportunity to start potty training. Why? It’s the first time your child hates dirty diapers as much as you do! So, out with the pampers and in with the potties.
Sitting still for more than a minute
If your toddler has shown the restraint of being able to sit in one place for more than a few seconds – you’re in luck. Not only has your toddler probably made you beam with mommy pride, but they’re also likely to be able to sit for just the right amount of time on a potty.
Can take off and put on their own clothes
If your child isn’t able to pull their own pants, skirts, or any underwear both up and down – it’s not a good time to start potty training.
Willingness to follow simple instructions
Learning how to go potty is all about learning the steps, getting in the groove, and listening to mommy! If your child has already shown the ability to input what you ask of them and then do it to the best of their abilities – they should take to the potty like a duck to water!
So, how do you get started?
How to potty train? Methods that’ll help you and your toddler get off on the right foot
So, your child has ticked one, a few, or all of the boxes above – well done! Once you’re sure that you and your toddler are physically and emotionally ready to begin the potty training process, it’s time to move on to picking a method.
No method is better than the other, they’re each meant to suit a different type of toddler, mommy, and learning style. Feel free to pick which one is right for you and your little one:
This method is considered rather demanding given that it asks you to dedicate a full 3 days of your life to potty training. However, it’s perfect for the impatient among us or for those toddlers who do everything in a rush.
To get started, you clear three days of your schedule. During these three days, you monitor your child for any bowel movements and immediately present the potty to them. To get started, diapers are replaced by underwear – so expect a few messes. However, this method is known for its quick pick-up rate.
If you’d rather maintain your family’s regular routine, this more flexible, long-term method might be for you.
Using a time interval based approach to potty training, this method asks that you have your child sit on the toilet for at least a few minutes every hour or two from the time they wake up until they go to sleep.
Instead of abandoning diapers altogether, you can opt for an in-between option such as pull-up training pants.
Tip: Use a timer to stay consistent with your time intervals.
A third alternative that some parents choose is a scheduled approach to potty training. Instead of using a timer to decide your child’s potty times, the day's more natural flow is used. In short, potty training happens around certain non-fixed times of the day, such as after breakfast, before lunch, or during playtime.
Parents may also arrange for trips to the bathroom during times their child frequently pees or poops in their diaper.
Note: This method is about trusting your child to listen to their body signals and communicate them to you. Praising your child for identifying a bowel movement and taken action to alert you is highly recommended.
Potty training brings several trials and tribulations to motherhood. For so long part of parenting has been purchasing pampers in bulk and going through what feels like 20 of them a day!
Before you know it, you’re learning potty training tricks and looking up potty training tips on how to get your child to sit still on the toilet – it’s all part of the journey. If you’re reading this, the likelihood is that your pampers days are almost over and your kid is ready to saddle up on the potty.
Remember to celebrate this milestone with your toddler and most of all – take your time.