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10 Signs Your Toddler Is Ready For Potty Training (And How To Start)

One of the biggest milestones in every parent’s journey is when they can stop buying diapers. Parents of toddlers rejoice – because it might be time that to happen if you’ve stumbled upon this article. The potty training process can be quite challenging, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. If you are wondering when is the right time for your child, these are the tell-tale signs every parent needs to know to see if your toddler is ready for potty training. Follow your child’s indicators and know that you’re on the path to successful potty training! Plus, I’ve got some great tips on how to kick off your success.

Do you know when your child is ready for potty training? Here are the 10 indicators that every parent should be aware of AND how to get started.

I’m officially on my third child that we’ve taken through potty training. We’re an all-boy family and, in the beginning, there were times I wanted to pull my hair out. It can be so overwhelming for first-time moms. Once you get into a rhythm and routine, you realize that it can be done.

It’s definitely a marathon and not a sprint. You’re already doing the proper research and learning what your role is. Knowing how you can help, as a parent, makes the job easier. Get your patience (and wine) ready. It’s definitely a process and won’t happen overnight for every kid.

Related: Toddler Won’t Eat Dinner? You’ve Got To Read These Genius Tips

10 Signs Your Toddler Is Ready For Potty Training

Potty training is a big step for any family. It can be stressful, messy, and frustrating – but it’s also rewarding when you see your little one make the transition from diapers to underwear. It’s also very rewarding for your wallet. Having a plan in place will help decrease the likelihood of messes – but it’s impossible to eliminate them completely. That’s just part of the process.

Whether it’s your first time getting a kid ready for potty training or not, it is different for every single child. However, there are common indicators that are similar across the board for most toddlers.

I will admit that it got slightly easier for our consecutive kids, after our first born. That might be because they were watching an older sibling as an example OR we might’ve gotten better as parents.

How to know when you're ready for potty training

Setting Expectations When They’re Ready For Potty Training

Resist the urge to expect the same results and timeline other children have followed. The age your toddler is ready to potty train at is going to be on their own time. Just because experts say you can start at 18-months, doesn’t mean your child is ready then. Some children start at age 2, while others are not ready until 3 or even 4 years of age.

Your Toddler Notices When They Are Wet

If you notice your toddler begins to pull at their diaper when they are wet, it’s time to buy a potty chair! Take your kiddo to the store and let them help pick it out. This ensures the potty training kick off party is started properly. My kids always wanted a potty with their favorite characters on it.

Some toddlers will never care if they are wet and/or dirty. This isn’t the only sign of potty training readiness. There are plenty more. I know parents who tested the waters of potty training in the wintertime because their toddlers never wanted to be cold, so they were motivated to train. Whatever works for your little one!

Your Toddler Shows Interest

The first thing most parents notice on their child’s potty training journey is that their child is more interested in using the bathroom. Your toddler may follow you into the bathroom, or even ask questions about your bathroom use. I’ve always let my toddlers watch both my Husband and I in the bathroom, so they know it’s completely natural.

Some toddlers will strip down and run into the bathroom before they even know how to use the toilet. This is a sure sign they’re ready for potty training.

Potty Training Tips For Kids

Your Toddler Is Staying Dry For Longer Periods Of Time

When your toddler gets to the point where they’re able to stay dry for a few hours at a time, that is a sign they may be ready to potty train. If your child is able to sleep through the night and stay dry – even if it’s not every night – they are probably ready to start using the toilet.

Just because they can stay dry overnight, doesn’t mean you should immediately take off that overnight diaper. Give it time and still stress using the potty before bedtime. Many parents experience day time potty training success before nighttime.

Your Toddler Understands What “Potty” Means

No matter which variation of term you use: potty, toilet, bathroom, or something else – when your toddler is able to understand what it means, this can be another sign they’re ready to transition away from diapers. You might have different terms for a BM vs. urination too. It’s so individual to every family. If your child goes to preschool, I would ask them what terms they use.

Your Toddler Can Communicate When They Need To Go To The Bathroom

Not all children will verbally communicate that they need to use the bathroom, but there are other ways your child may indicate it’s time to pee or poop. It’s a good idea to teach your toddler the Sign Language sign for “bathroom”, in case they cannot (or choose not to) communicate the urgency verbally.

My husband jokes around about the “pee pee dance” because our kids always grab themselves and do this little dance. We knew that they had to use the bathroom, but it was a while before they could verbally communicate the need to go.

Your Toddler Can Undress Themselves

Even if they can’t fully dress themselves yet, if they’re able to pull down their diaper or training pants, your toddler is showing signs of potty training readiness. I’ll move my children to elastic waist and avoid overalls. You want them to feel successful and that means taking care of their own pant situation.

Your Toddler Can Use The Potty Chair Or Toilet Lid

If you purchase a potty chair and teach your toddler how to use it, they should be able to get down to the chair (and up from it) on their own. You may want to have them practice when they don’t have to go to the bathroom, just so they’re prepared when it’s time to go.

Some parents pick to skip the potty chair altogether. That’s ok too! We used a toilet seat that had a buil-in potty training lid for kids to use. That was so convenient for bathrooms that our family members shared.

How to get started with potty training

Your Toddler Wants To Use The Toilet When They’re Ready For Potty Training

Each toddler will potty train at their own pace. Not all children will be eager to potty train, so it’s important to be persistent but not to push the issue if your child isn’t ready. When your child starts saying they want to use the toilet, you’ll know they’re ready to start trying.

We experienced our children, who were in daycare, a stronger desire to use the toilet. There’s a slight amount of peer-pressure that they feel at school when everyone goes to the bathroom and they’re not at the same level yet. Use that to your advantage.

Your Toddler Can Follow Simple Instructions

Being able to follow instructions is another toilet readiness skill. There is a difference in understanding instructions and being able to follow them. Your toddler may accompany you to the bathroom quite frequently before they start toilet training. This is an opportunity to talk to them about the process of using the toilet, flushing the toilet, washing hands, drying hands, etc. 

Once they’re able to follow simple instructions like how to wash their hands, they may be prepared for potty training. Be prepare for them to be 100% potty trained, but you still have to check their “bum” for residue. That might even continue into elementary school and it never bothers me because I want my child to have that check.

When They’re Ready For Potty Training – Make It Fun

Making potty training fun rather than stressful is going to make your child feel more like a big kid, and increase their chance of success. Use a reward chart, or make a Cheerio target… get creative and figure out how you can make it fun for your kiddo. 

No matter their age, staying positive and patient is key! Positive parenting is proven to be effective at any age. Try it, even if it’s a new concept and you’re unsure. It can be beneficial to you and your child. 

Potty Training Kids For Success

Remember: every child is different. While the average age for toilet training is anywhere from 18 months to 3 years old, if they aren’t ready, they aren’t ready. Forcing a child into potty training before they are ready will surely backfire and take even longer than it would have if you had waited for them to be prepared. We give it 72 hours and then try again 6-months later if they aren’t ready. Most children will be potty trained well before heading to kindergarten, so take your time and be patient. 

If your child is resistant to potty training for an extended period of time, or seems to have a fear of the toilet, you may want to talk to your child’s pediatrician for more potty training assistance. Sometimes it’s just a mental block that you might have to push through with professional help. 

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