10 Signs Of Potty Training Readiness: How To Know It’s Time

signs of potty training readiness

You’re probably eager to start toilet training as soon as possible. After all, you’ve been changing diapers for a long time, and that can get old. But you want to do it right so your child is successful. To help you know when it’s time, here are 10 signs of potty training readiness.

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Is It Time To Start Potty Training? 

Mom wondering if it is time to start potty training

Some people recommend starting toilet training when your child is 18 months old. But current research shows that this may be too young. In fact, studies have found no real benefit to starting before 27 months of age.

Instead of waiting until your child reaches a certain age, experts agree that it's best to wait until your child masters several potty training readiness skills. That way, you know that your little one is physically and emotionally ready to start using the potty.

10 Signs Of Potty Training Readiness

Here are 10 things to look for that will help you know when it's time to start toilet training. You'll notice we included a variety of physical, developmental, and emotional milestones. These areas are all critical for a successful transition out of diapers.

1) Waking Up Dry From Naps

Mom seeing signs of potty training readiness with kid

When your baby is first born, their bladder muscles are frail. As a result, they can't hold their urine for long. But as they grow, those muscles start to develop and strengthen.

Over time, they start staying dry for longer periods. So while your child might still have nighttime accidents, they should be able to make it through naps without wetting their diaper.

2) Showing An Interest In The Potty

Showing an interest in the potty is a developmental milestone. It means your child is beginning to understand that there's a link between their body and the toilet.

Some kids get curious and want to know how the toilet works. Others might not say much but will try to imitate what they see you doing. Either way, it's a good sign that they're ready to start learning about potty training.

3) Following Simple Directions

If you ask your child to put their shoes away, do they do it? If not, they might have difficulty following the instructions for using the toilet.

Going to the bathroom is a multi-step process that takes time and patience to learn. They must pull their pants down, climb onto the potty, do their business, wipe, flush, and get dressed before washing their hands. So practice following directions before you start.

4) Knowing When They Need To Go

Young girl showing signs of potty training readiness

Before you start potty training, your child should know when they need to go to the bathroom. This shows that they have developmental awareness of their body and can listen to the signals it’s giving them.

You'll know that your child does this when they start to show signs that they're about to go. These signs can include squirming, holding their crotch, or saying, "I need to go potty."

5) Communicating Needs

Along with our previous point, timing is an integral part of potty training. You don't want your child sitting on the toilet for extended periods waiting for something to happen. Nor do you want them having accidents because they couldn't hold it any longer.

One way to help ensure success is to wait until your child can communicate their needs before you start. They should be able to tell you, in words or gestures, when they need to use the potty.

6) Being Able To Physically Get To The Bathroom

young girl climbing on foam blocks

Can your child get to the bathroom on their own? Once they're there, can they climb up onto the potty by themselves or with the help of a stepstool?

If not, your child will be dependent on you to get them to the toilet. To avoid that problem, give their muscles and motor skills some more time to develop. It’ll be easier for you both at that point!

7) Pulling Pants Down And Back Up

It's important that your child can take their clothes off when they need to use the toilet. Otherwise, they might have an accident because they struggled to pull their pants down.

Help your little one practice getting dressed and undressed. At first, it'll take them longer to do it on their own than if you do it for them. But with practice, they'll get better.

8) Pooping Regularly

Poop training is hard for many kids. And if your child is constipated, it makes things even worse. When you're plugged up, pooping is painful. And if it hurts to go, your child won’t want to sit on the toilet to push their poop out.

Instead, they'll want to stand up since it uses slightly different muscles. Since it's easier and less painful to stand, this can lead to toilet training resistance, when your child no longer wants to poop in the toilet. They'll hold back their poop and become even more constipated.

So, before you start, make sure that your child is having regular bowel movements. If they're not, talk to their doctor. They can rule out any medical conditions and may be able to give you some tips to help get things moving again.

9) Not Having Toilet Terrors

The potty can be a scary place for some kids. After all, who wants to sit on something that might flush them away?

If your child is scared, talk to them about it. Explain what the toilet is and how it works. Show them how it flushes, and let them try it a few times.

And if they're still terrified, start with a potty chair instead of the toilet. That way, they can get used to going in a little potty before moving up to the big one.

10) Hiding To Poop

Young kid hiding under foam blocks

If your child disappears for a few minutes and comes back stinky and ready for a change, that’s a good sign developmentally.

It means that your little one recognized their need to go. It also shows they're aware that going potty is a private matter, so they go somewhere alone to do their business.

If your child is playing and suddenly stops and runs off, follow them and see if they're showing other signs of pooping. If they are, ask if they want to try it on the potty. That way, they’ll see that the bathroom is the best place to run to when they need to go.

Potty Training Readiness For Parents

Potty training can be stressful for you and your child. You both need to be prepared. To see if the time is right for you, consider these four factors.

1) Upcoming Road Trips Or Moves

Potty training in the car or on an airplane is challenging. The change of schedule and location can throw off your child's potty training progress completely.

So, if you're planning a big move or a long road trip, wait until those things are in the rearview mirror before starting. That way, you can stay closer to home, giving your child more time to master the toilet before setting out on another adventure.

2) Your Availability

Your little one needs your help to learn how to use the potty. That means you'll need to be around to watch for their signs of needing to go, offer encouragement, put stickers on charts, and help with any accidents.

If you have big work projects or other commitments that keep you from being able to focus on your child, wait until your schedule clears a bit before starting.

3) The Arrival Of A New Sibling

Mom with first born and second born baby on a mattress

If your toddler starts to use the bathroom and a brand new sibling arrives, that can throw things for a loop. Suddenly, there's this new person in the home pooping and peeing in a diaper with you happily changing them.

Your toddler may think that's what they're supposed to do, too. And they may long for the attention that a diaper change can bring. This can lead to potty training regression.

4) Your Preparation

Potty training is a process, and accidents are going to happen. Before you start, take a deep breath and remind yourself that these accidents are part of the process. This will help you stay calm when they do happen.

In addition, have the right supplies on hand to clean up quickly. For example, invest in a washable mattress, like the Newton Baby 100% Washable Kids’ Mattress, so you don't have to worry about stains.

Also, keep Extra Crib Mattress Covers and sheets on hand so you’re always prepared.

Here’s To Potty Training Success!

Potty training success

Potty training is a big milestone for both you and your child. While it can be challenging, it's also really rewarding. To help set your child up for success, don't start until they're showing the signs of potty training readiness.

Then, stock up on stickers, underwear, and other potty training supplies. You'll also want a washable mattress and quality bedding so you can quickly take care of nighttime accidents.

Before you know it, diapers will be a thing of the past, and your little one will be completely trained!

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