How-to: Know if my baby is ready to start potty training

It is very important to be able to identify if your toddler is ready to take this big step of independence as toilet training is not only a physical matter but also cognitive and emotional one. Trying to train a child who is not ready can really extend the process.

Generally parents begin potty training around the age of two, but don’t be surprised if your family pressures you to start earlier. Years ago, families began potty training at an early age because diapers had to be washed by hand, and even boiled!

Before you start toilet training the most important thing is to know if your toddler is ready. Experts say that for a child to succeed in learning how to use the bathroom, he needs to feel the need to go, be able to understand what this feeling means, and be able to communicate verbally that he needs help to get to the bathroom. Some toddlers start showing these signs at 18 months, but others do not show the slightest interest until they are three years old or more.

The best way to determine if your baby is ready to begin his potty training is to observe his behavior in general and his responses to any suggestion about using the toilet. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself to know if you little one is ready:

  • Does he understand and follow simple instructions and requests?
  • Is he able to pull his pants down and back up?
  • Does he stay ‘dry’ for at least three or four hours?
  • Can he sit and stay in the same position for two to five minutes?
  • Can he walk and sit alone?
  • Does he dislike wearing a dirty diaper?
  • Does he like being independent?
  • Does he take pride in his accomplishments?
  • Can he perceive when he needs to go the bathroom (physical cues) and let you know before he goes?
  • Does he imitate adults or siblings when they go to the bathroom?

If you answered YES to most of the questions, then it is very likely that your little one is ready to start training! But if your little one is still missing some of the requirements, try not to pressure him about it. Rushing him when he is not ready can be counterproductive and frustrating for you and for him. Remember that every child is different and has his or her own timeframes. For example, it’s good to know that girls tend to be ready a few months earlier than boys.

Before you start potty training, it is important that you evaluate other factors besides your toddler’s physical development. Complex family situations can make the process harder. If at this time your family is going through a great change like moving, the loss of a loved one, or a change of school or daycare then postpone the process until the situation stabilizes.

Finally, before starting to potty train your child, pause and think if YOU are ready for it. It makes no sense to start if you do not have enough time or you’re not physically ready for this great task. Remember that potty training requires lots of training and daily reinforcement. So if you think that you’re not ready then it is best to wait a couple of weeks or months until things are balanced.

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