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Parents of toddlers! Is it time to rejoice and ditch the diapers?! Potty training is a process that can be daunting for toddlers and parents alike. With some preparation and patience, it doesn’t have to be a giant, scary challenge.

Knowing when your child is ready for potty training is the first step. There are several signs that your toddler is ready to start potty training.

Signs your toddler is ready for potty training

Most toddlers are ready to start potty training between 18 and 24 months old. More important than their chronological age, they need to be developmentally ready for potty training. Trust me if they aren’t ready AND interested, it’ll be an uphill battle for everyone.

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.

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. 

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.

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 to at least attempt to toilet train.

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.

Note: 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!

Your toddler understands what “potty” means.

No matter which variation 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. 

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.

Your toddler wants to use the toilet.

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.

Your toddler can use the potty chair.

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.

Setting potty training expectations

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. Some children start at age 2, while others are not ready until 3 or even 4 years of age. Whether it’s your first rodeo or not, potty training is different for every single child.

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!

Potty training not going well?

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. Most children will be potty trained well before heading to kindergarten, so take your time and be patient. If you’ve already started and it’s only led to frustration and struggles, it’s TOTALLY ok to hit the pause button and try again down the road!

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. Your child may have some anxiety or other unresolved issues their doctor can help you with.

Embrace the journey

Potty training is a big step for any family. Having a plan in place will help decrease the likelihood of messes, but it doesn’t eliminate them completely. It can be stressful, frustrating, and oh so, so messy – but it’s also rewarding when you see your little one make the transition from diapers to underwear.

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