Potty training is a huge milestone for little ones; transitioning from wearing diapers or pull-ups to visiting the toilet unassisted. Not only is this a huge leap towards independence for your toddler, but can save you a huge amount of money from the weekly shopping budget when you finally get to wave the diapers goodbye!
Knowing exactly when to start potty training can be a bit of a minefield, but in most cases, your toddler will start showing signs that they are both physically and mentally ready to potty train. The age at which these signs start to show will vary hugely from one child to the next, so it is important to understand and recognize those signs in order to make the process easier for both parent and child.
Here are some of the signs to look out for that may show your toddler may be ready to potty train:
- Telling you they need the toilet – this may seem really obvious, but if your toddler has an awareness that they need to wee or poo before they’ve actually done so – this is a really positive sign. This means they have already learned the art of control, and that is one of the first challenges involved in learning to ditch the diapers.
- Whilst they may not have completely managed to anticipate wee and poo before they arrive, if they tell you when they have done, this shows that they are feeling uncomfortable with the sensation of it in their diaper against their skin. This feeling of wanting to be clean or asking to be changed highlights that they may be ready to make the move.
- Fidgeting or hiding when they need a wee – you may find that your toddler wanders off or hides behind a door or curtain when they need to wee – almost feeling embarrassed or wanting some privacy when they do so.
- An interest in the potty or the toilet – you may find that your toddler develops a sudden interest in the restroom and what happens in there, following you to your toilet visits or paying attention to the process of flushing and washing your hands. This curiosity may be a good indicator of their willingness to learn, and replicate your behavior themselves.
- Waking up dry – If you toddler starts to wake up dry after a nap, or their diaper is less damp than usual in the mornings after sleeping through the night (meaning that they have gone longer stretches without urinating), this would also highlight they may be developmentally ready to start potty training. Whilst becoming completely dry through the night can take longer than being dry during the waking hours, a change in the amount is usually a good indication.
- Copying behaviors – if you have a potty already, you may find that your toddler starts to copy your behaviors, willingly sitting on the potty and pretending to wipe, pull pants down etc. This willingness to be “big” like you, shows signs that they are willing to replicate the actions!
Its important to remember that every child is different, and that they all develop at their own pace. My advice would be, do not feel pressurized to start potty training just because your friends’ toddlers are doing so. As hard as it can be, try not to compare your child to others. If you start before your toddler is ready, this can actually have a detrimental effect and dent their confidence if they have regular accidents. Wait until your child is showing some real positive signs of being ready, and you will be surprised as just how quickly they adapt!
My final tip would be to choose a time to start their potty training journey – summer holidays when they can be outside and ditch the clothes is a good option, or during the holiday periods where you are likely to be at home more often than usual. Don’t rush them, reassure and reinforce the message of the potty if and when accidents occur, and positively reinforce their actions when they do successfully visit the potty! It’s amazing what a bit of clapping and cheering can do!