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What are the signs of potty training readiness?

baby girl sitting on potty reading a newspaper

Key points:

1. Identifying your child’s readiness is crucial; potty training is a physical, cognitive, and emotional process.

2. It typically begins around age 2, but some start earlier; earlier training was recommended before due to diaper washing needs.

3. Success requires the child to feel, understand, and communicate bathroom needs; some start showing signs at 2 or 3 years.

4. Signs of readiness: staying dry for hours, predictable bowel movements, bodily awareness, dislike for dirty diapers, necessary physical skills.

It is very important to be able to identify if your toddler is ready to start potty training because this big step in independence is not only a physical matter but also a 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 to know is if your toddler is ready. Experts say that for a child to succeed in learning how to use the bathroom, they need to feel the need to go, be able to understand what this feeling means and be able to communicate that they need help to get to the bathroom. Some toddlers start showing these signs at 24 months, but others do not show the slightest interest until they are three years old or more.

Signs that your child is ready to start potty training

The best way to determine if your little one is ready to stop using diapers is to observe their behavior in general and their responses to any suggestion about using the toilet. Here are some signs to know if your little one is ready:

  1. Your toddler stays dry for an hour or two.
  2. Your child’s bowel movements are predictable.
  3. Your child shows they’re aware of their bodily functions.
  4. Your little one doesn’t like dirty diapers.
  5. Your child is developing physical skills that are critical to potty training like:
    • Pulling pants down and back up.
    • Sitting and staying in the same position for two to five minutes.
    • Walking and sitting down alone.
    • Imitating adults or siblings when they go to the bathroom.

If you notice most of these signs, 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 them about it. Rushing them when they are not ready can be counterproductive and frustrating for both of you. Remember that every child is different and develops at their own rate. For example, it’s good to know that girls tend to be ready a few months earlier than boys.

Things to take into consideration

Before you start potty training, you must evaluate other factors besides your toddler’s physical development. Complex family situations can make the process harder. If 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 don’t 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 more balanced.

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