How to Know if Your Child is Ready for Potty Training

by Allison Jandu July 05, 2024

How to Know if Your Child is Ready for Potty Training

Potty training is a milestone that can be described as both exciting and a little daunting. Okay, maybe mostly daunting, but if you’re able to nail down the right time to start, and introduce the concept in low pressure ways from early on, any apprehension you might feel can easily be transformed into confidence!

As parents, we often wonder, "How do I know if my child is ready for this next step?" What many may not realize is that readiness for potty training isn't solely about age—it's actually more about your child's individual development. Let’s dive into some signs that might indicate your little one is ready to start potty training.

Gross Motor Skill Development

First and foremost, your child needs to have a good grasp on certain gross motor skills. Can they walk, stand and sit down on their own? These abilities are essential for successful potty training. If your child can walk to the bathroom, pull down their pants, and sit on the potty, they have the basic physical skills needed to use the potty independently and safely. Remember, it's okay if they're still working on these things; practice makes perfect! Generally speaking, children who are delayed with motor skill development are likely to be delayed with potty training as well, and that is perfectly normal.

Communication Skills

Communication plays a huge role in potty training. It’s important to not begin the process until your child is making strides with their receptive and expressive communication skills. That means being able to understand simple directions as well as communicating their needs to us in some way. While being able to say words like "pee" or "poop" can be helpful, non-verbal cues are equally important. If your child can indicate through gestures, facial expressions, or sign language that they need to go, that's a big step towards readiness. Pay attention to any consistent signals they might use to express their needs so you can be more prepared as you move away from diapers.

Fewer Wet Diapers

Notice how often you're changing wet diapers. If your child stays dry for longer periods, usually at least an hour or more, and especially during naps or overnight, it could mean their bladder control is improving. This is a good indicator that they might be ready to start using the potty too! Consistently fewer wet diapers throughout the day means their body is developing the ability to hold urine for longer stretches, which is key for successful potty training.

Predictable Bowel Movements

If your child has predictable, consolidated bowel movements, it will make the transition to potty training smoother and is another sign that they are developing the physical capability to use the potty. Regularity means you can anticipate when they might need to poop, whether it be the time of day, or how frequently they tend to go, making it easier to encourage them to use the potty. Keep a mental note of their patterns and routine and, when potty training begins, you can gently guide them to the potty around those times.

Hiding to Poop

Does your child go off to a quiet corner to poop in their diaper? This behavior often signals that they are becoming aware of the urge to go and prefer privacy, just like when using a potty. Urge recognition is a huge part of the potty training process! Recognizing the need to poop and then seeking privacy is a major developmental step towards potty training readiness. If you’re noticing this with your child, start normalizing poop and be sure you’re only using positive terminology when referencing it. Instead of “Eww, let’s get you changed out of that stinky diaper!” try, “Whoa that was a big poop! I bet your belly feels a lot better now!” Research shows that removing negative language surrounding poop can shorten the overall amount of time it takes to potty train!

Interest in the Bathroom

Is your child curious about what goes on in the bathroom? Do they follow you in and ask questions, or want to flush the toilet? This natural curiosity is a great sign. It shows that they are interested in the process, which can be a big motivational factor for potty training. Encouraging this interest without pressure can help them become more comfortable with the idea. Each time they follow you into the bathroom can be turned into a low pressure learning opportunity!

Introducing Potty Training Concepts Early

Even if your child isn’t showing obvious signs of readiness, you can still introduce them to the concept of potty training! This doesn't mean you say goodbye to diapers right away. Instead, make the potty a familiar, non-threatening part of their environment. Let them sit on it (fully clothed) to get used to how it feels, read them books about potty training, or let them watch you use the toilet while explaining what you're doing. Check out my free webinar, 5 Things to Start Right Now to Make Potty Training Easier, for simple techniques to implement!

The goal is to normalize the potty and the process. This early, stress-free introduction can help reduce any anxiety they might have about the change once they are developmentally ready to start. It’s all about making the potty a part of their everyday life without any pressure to perform right away.

Be Encouraging and Patient

Every child is unique and will be ready for potty training at different times. It's important to approach this milestone with patience and encouragement. Celebrate the small successes, and don’t stress over accidents—they're a natural and important part of the learning process! Creating a supportive environment where your child feels confident and understood is key.

Remember, potty training is a process, not a one-time event. The best potty training experiences happen when you go at a pace that works for your child and your family. Trust your instincts as a parent, and give your child the time they need to reach this exciting milestone.

If you feel like you could use some extra support, don’t hesitate to reach out to myself and my team of professional potty experts at Potty Training Consultant. We specialize in customized, science-based guidance so the experience can be both effective and empowering, all while building big connection with your child. Parenthood is challenging enough, potty training shouldn’t have to be.

Happy pottying!

Allison Jandu


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