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When to Potty Train

When you are ready to begin
By: Renee Mercer, MSN, CPNP

When to potty train hero image

Readiness has little to do with biological age. Each child is very different, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most kids achieve daytime toilet training success by three to four years of age. Staying dry at night can take quite a bit longer.

Parents know their own children best. Here are some clues to suggest your child is getting ready to potty train:

Signs of Readiness

  • Bothered by messy diaper
  • Begins to mimic other’s actions
  • Interested in watching others use the bathroom
  • Likes to put things in proper places (poop and pee in the toilet)
  • Growing interest in dressing himself

Finding a Cooperative stage

  • Can play alone for five minutes or longer
  • Will try new things
  • Responds to your requests
  • Can signal (verbally or non-verbally) when she wants to go potty

Body Cues

  • Urinates a large amount at one time
  • Regular bowel movements which are formed
  • Can stay dry for two hours
  • Notices physical sensations of needing to pee or poo, hides or makes facial expression
  • Able to walk, climb and pull clothes up and down

When most of these behaviors are seen, it may be the right time for potty training. Make sure there are no other major life changes happening at the same time. Begin using the potty training “lingo” in everyday conversations. (Choose your words wisely because these terms may be used for years to come.) Offer praise for dry diapers, for sitting fully clothed on a potty and for telling you when a diaper needs to be changed.