When is a Child Ready for Toilet Training to Begin?

It is important to be aware that toilet training is a process and not all children are ready to begin it at the same time in their lives. Most pediatrician’s recommend that parents start the process of toilet training (or potty training as it is sometimes referred to) when a child is somewhere between the age of two and three. Starting it too young is not advisable, as toilet training has to be in sync with a child’s physical development and awareness of their bladder as well as their rectal muscles. It is around a child’s second year of life that they start to become aware of the fact that they need to go the bathroom and that they have control over these muscles. Before that age, urination and bowel movements are involuntary. Be aware that toilet training goes through stages and is a gradual transition. Some children seem to go through it more smoothly than others.

There are both physical as well as cognitive signs that your child will make known to you that let you know that the time to begin toilet training is now. It is important to pay attention to the signs and respond appropriately. If your child’s attention span is sufficient enough that he or she can play with any one toy for a period of five minutes or longer then he has developed enough attention span to be able to pay attention to using the toilet.

When your child is able to dress and undress himself with very little help from you other than a button here or a zipper there then he is showing motor skills that speak of both maturity in a physical and cognitive sense. This could be a good indicator that potty training should commence.

Other areas of cognitive maturity also play a role in knowing when a good time is to begin toilet training. A child who very easily knows where to put his clothes and toys away in his bedroom is showing enough cognitive maturity to understand what toilet paper is and what it is meant to be used for. As well he probably understands enough to be able to flush the toilet once he finishes uses the toilet.

If your child has a consistent movement of his bowels then he is probably ready for the potty. In other words if he manages to remain dry in his diaper for a period of two hours or longer and if his bowels moved approximately the same time every day then he is ready to learn.

If your child is aware that he is wearing a diaper and especially if he is aware if the diaper is wet or dry then he is very likely ready to begin the potty training process. If you ask your child where his diaper is and he points to his pants then that is an excellent indicator that he has awareness of his bladder and bowels.

If you have taught your child to wash his hands with soap and water and he remembers to do it regularly and he also seems to enjoy doing it then that can be helpful in regards to toilet training.

If your child wants to please you then it is a good time to begin. When your child is going through a stage where he is obstinate and constantly says “No!” then the process of potty training should not be started just yet.

Finally when your child can wake up for many days in a row or even a week at a time and has a dry diaper then this is good news for potty training. This shows that your child has developed a fair share of motor control.