Potty Training Signs So You’ll Know When it’s Time for Your Kid to Go

While most children are ready to start training between 18 and 36 months, their age is just one factor to consider.

Like most baby and toddler milestones, knowing when your child is ready to start potty training goes beyond looking at their age.

Watching for potty training signs is an important step to figuring out if your little one is ready to start the process.

As you’re deciding whether or not to start potty training your toddler, watch for these common clues that your child is ready.

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Child sitting on a toilet seat with a step stool

Common Potty Training Signs

When you’re trying to determine if your toddler is ready to start potty training, looking for a few common cues is a great place to start.

Look for these common potty training signs to determine if your little one is ready the process:

  • Fewer wet diapers. If your toddler is able to keep their diaper dry for more than two hours, it’s a good sign that they have developed enough bladder control to start potty training. This physical sign is a great place to start when looking for cues that your toddler is ready.
  • Predictable bowel movements. Regular bowel movements are another good indicator that your toddler has developed the ability to regulate his bodily functions. Predictable bowel movements also make potty training a little easier because you’ll know exactly when he needs to sit on the toilet each day.
  • Tells you when they’re going. Toddlers love to overshare. And this fun quality is perfect for potty training! If your toddler lets you know that they’re peeing or pooping in their diaper, it’s a good sign that they’re ready to start training. But even if your child isn’t vocal about their bodily functions, they may be telling you they’re going in other ways. Kids who hide in a corner or grunt are also demonstrating that they are aware of what’s about to happen.
  • Asks to be changed. Just like a toddler who’s ready to start training knows when they’re about to go, they also become fully aware of what’s inside they’re diaper when they’re finished. At this stage, your toddler may not like the feeling of a wet or dirty diaper, which means they’ll probably ask you for a clean one. This is a great sign that your toddler is ready to ditch the diapers and start potty training.
  • Shows an interest in using the toilet. Kids at this age are curious about everything. So if your toddler starts to demonstrate an interest in your bathroom habits, they might be ready to start training. Asking to watch you go, asking questions about the toilet, and wanting to wear underwear are all good signs your toddler is ready to get started.

Skills Needed to Start Potty Training

In addition to the common indicators listed above, there are also a few skills your toddler will need to master before they can start training.

Once your toddler is able to do these things, they might be ready to start potty training:

  • Dressing and undressing. Your toddler should be able to pull down their pants and underwear quickly and pull them back up when they’re finished going.
  • Walking and/or running. When the urge strikes, your toddler will need to be able to quickly get themselves to the bathroom. That means they need to be able to walk and/or run to get themselves where they need to go quickly.
  • Communication skills. To let you know when they need to go, communication skills are essential. Your child should be able to verbally tell you they need to go or use sign language to let you know.
  • Following instructions. Since going to the bathroom requires your toddler to follow several different steps (pull their pants down, sit on the potty, go, get down, pull up their pants, flush, and wash their hands), it’s important that they are able to follow basic instructions.
  • Sitting still. While you might be able to go to the bathroom in a couple of minutes, your toddler will need to sit on the toilet for several minutes at a time while they’re potty training. That means she’ll need to be able to sit still and focus for several minutes at a time – especially during the beginning stages of potty training.

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How Do I Know if My Child Isn’t Ready for Potty Training?

If your toddler isn’t demonstrating at least a few of the signs listed above, they might night be ready to start training. But that might not be the only indicator that your little one isn’t ready.

Just as there are signs that your toddler is ready to start potty training, there are typically signs to watch out for to let you know if your child isn’t ready for potty training.

Keep these signs in mind as you’re considering whether or not to train your toddler:

  • Resistance to or uninterest in using the potty. One of the biggest indicators that your toddler isn’t ready is if they resist the process. If your toddler refuses to sit on the toilet or to wear big kid underwear, it’s best not to push the issue. Pressuring your toddler to start potty training when they aren’t ready can backfire and cause regression later on.
  • Fear of the toilet. Being afraid of the toilet or being scared of sitting on the toilet is another indicator that your toddler may not be ready to start training. If you see that your toddler is afraid of going to the bathroom, try gradually introducing the idea of using the potty to them. Start reading books about the process and watching fun videos. Then, let your toddler come with you to the bathroom, practice flushing the toilet on their own, and eventually sit them on the toilet to help them feel more comfortable.
  • Frequent accidents. While accidents are part of the potty training process, frequent accidents could be a sign that your toddler isn’t ready just yet. If your toddler is having more accidents than successful trips to the bathroom, it’s probably a good idea to take a break from potty training for a few weeks. Your toddler may not have developed full bladder control yet, making it difficult for them to make it to the bathroom on time.
  • Contrary attitude. Whether your toddler’s going through the terrible twos or is just in that phase where they say “no” to everything, trying to potty train a contrary child is impossible. If your little one is in a contrary phase, wait until the phase passes. Trying to train a child who constantly tells you no will be difficult on you and your toddler!
  • Stress. Potty training is a big deal for a toddler, so if they’re experiencing any added stress in their life it’s best to hold off on potty training. Major changes, like moving to a new home or welcoming a new baby, require big adjustments to your toddler’s routine. Adding potty training to the mix could make things more difficult for you and your little one.

Knowing what potty training signs to look for can be helpful in getting your toddler on the path to potty training success. It’s important to know the signs and when to start, but it’s just as important to know when not to get started.

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