How to tell if your child is ready to start potty training
While our potty training readiness quiz is a great way to figure out when to start potty training, there are some important tips to know as well:
- Don’t focus too much on age. Every child is different. In general, parents should start looking for signs of potty training readiness around 24 months. Very few kids are ready to potty train before that age. And once your child is ready to start, keep in mind the potty training journey usually takes about 8 months. About half of kids are completed potty trained at age 3 (other than the occasional accident, of course!), but some finish around age 3½. Usually girls are trained about three months earlier than boys.
- Be patient! Sometimes kids seem ready to start but after showing a lot of enthusiasm for their new potty process lose interest. If that happens to your child, don’t worry. It’s not unusual, and it’s OK to take a break for a few weeks and try again.
- Talk to them about needing to go. While you might notice your toddler squatting or wiggling when they have to use the bathroom, little kids don’t necessarily recognize the urge to go. They have to be mature enough to recognize their body’s signs. So be sure to tell them how you’re feeling before you go to the bathroom: “My tummy feels a little funny!” Know that some kids start training before they recognize the urge, and regular “tries” on the potty — moments when they sit for a while even if they don’t pee or poop —can help them at first.
While consistency in your approach is important — such as sticking to Pull-Ups® training pants when you’ve taken them out of diapers — no amount of forcefulness will convince a child to potty train before they’re ready. And research shows that waiting a little longer to introduce potty training to your child can actually increase your chance of long-term success.
How to start potty training
When you’re confident your child is ready to start potty training, having a plan can make the journey smoother — and more fun for you both! Before you officially make the move to the potty, make your game plan:
- Prepare for kickoff. These fun ways to start potty training can help build excitement for your toddler. Think about what will appeal most to your little one like a sticker chart, potty training certificates or a fun “going to the potty” song you make up together. Knowing your child’s potty training personality can help too.
- Hit the store. Make sure you have everything you need for successful potty training before the big day. Our shopping list can help you remember all the essentials including Pull-Ups® training pants and a potty seat or child-size potty chair. While it can be tempting to grab what you need on a regular run to the store, consider making it an event with your toddler.
- Make a game of it. Check out these potty training games for fun and easy ways you can add some creativity (and a little friendly competition) to your journey. The Pull-Ups® Scavenger Hunt is a great way to familiarize your child with all the things they’ll need for going to the potty, and the “Which Is Faster?” game can help them learn that using the potty is faster than using diapers. In other words, it can help them get back to playing faster!
- Arrange a call your child will love! Kick off the big potty training journey — or celebrate milestones along the way — with a call from your child’s favorite Disney character.
Take this quick quiz to find out if your child is high-energy, shy, free-spirited, eager-to-please or cautious. Then find customized tips on our site — including how to talk to your child about potty training and how to tailor your praise.
Special time with just Mom or Dad is important to little ones, and taking a trip to the store together just for potty training essentials (not that gallon of milk or loaf of bread you need!) can help build excitement for what’s ahead.
As you’re starting to potty train your child, remember three important tips: Consistency, patience and encouragement. Let’s be honest: There will be some tough moments for you both. And potty training isn’t going to happen overnight. But with a positive attitude, lots of love and the ability to find shared joy in each little success, it can be a great experience for you both!