If you’re wondering when you should start potty training your toddler, you might be disappointed to hear that the answer is “it depends.” Unfortunately, no crystal ball can tell you exactly when your child is ready for potty training. Be prepared to be flexible since every child is different:
- Some kids potty train early
- Some kids potty train for shorter periods
- Some kids enjoy the process
- Some kids train easily
- Some kids potty train late, train for longer periods and resist the process
Even with all of those variables, you don’t have to go into this process blindly. There are some milestone behaviors to look out for at different ages that will signal different levels of toilet training readiness.
Potty Training Around Age 2
- Around 22 months: Most children find they are poop-free at nighttime. Of course, you’ll know by the scent of your child each morning when this milestone is being achieved. Typically children will continue wetting their pants in the night after they have begun to have complete nights without a bowel movement.
- Around 24 months: Parents should start to watch for signs of toilet training readiness in their child. At this age, children begin to show some, but usually not all, of the behaviors that are associated with successful potty training. A very small percentage of potty prodigies will be fully trained before they are 24 months old. Unsure of the behaviors to look out for? Wonder whether your child is ready to start potty training? Take our Readiness Quiz to find out more.
- Between 24 and 36 months: If you answered several “yes” responses to the Readiness Quiz and you’re observing behaviors that indicate you and your child can move forward, start having potty conversations with your child. Make these chats with your child fun, engaging and exciting, so potty training turns into an activity that both of you find enjoyable (or at least as enjoyable as toddler potty training could be).
Potty Training Around Age 3
- Around 36 months: Most children make the potty training leap around their third birthday. According to American Family Physician, 40 to 60 percent of children are completely potty trained by 36 months of age. However, some children won’t be trained until after they are 3 and a half years old. In general, girls tend to complete potty training about three months earlier than boys. If you’re wondering what the average potty training age is, remember how different children are. The average potty training age is somewhere between 2 and 4 years of age, but it’s hard to gauge because you won’t have a pop-up notification on your phone telling you “Your child’s last accident just happened.” Try not to worry about keeping up with an average age. Take the toilet training journey with your child at the pace that is appropriate for both of you.
- Between 3 and 4 years old: Your journey is not over yet- accidents happen! They’re not a big deal – parents should expect them. Once in a while, your child may have an “oopsie” when tired or sick or when extremely occupied by something. This is a perfectly natural part of the learning process. In general, avoid instilling additional guilt when these accidents happen since your child is at an age where he or she is probably experiencing embarrassment or shame. Reassure them that you know they are trying their best, you love them and there’s no point in crying over spilled milk. Learn more about setbacks and regression.
Potty Training Around Age 4
- Over the age of 4: If your child is over the age of 4 and fully potty trained by day but having three to five wet nighttime incidents per week, talk to your pediatrician. The doctor may diagnose nocturnal enuresis, commonly known as “bedwetting.” According to American Family Physician, this condition affects millions of children, but only about one-third of families talk to a physician about it. Understandably, this can be stressful for families hoping to transition into the next phase of childhood. Learn about how GoodNites® NightTime underwear can help ease the stress of bedwetting.
At each age, there are different milestones you can start looking out for but set aside any strongly held expectations about exactly when potty training will be complete — or how long it will take. On average, it takes eight months to potty train a child, and many children take even longer. Starting when your child is ready, and not too early, is an important factor in determining the success and brevity of the process. Just remember that this is a partnership. You are your child’s coach, and they need you to stay with them for the whole course!
While starting your potty training journey with your child will depend on whether they are ready, you may like to learn some of the challenges and differences when it comes to potty training girls and boys.