How to Potty Train Before Preschool
Getting your toddler potty trained for preschool is a big undertaking. But definitely it’s one that you and your little one can achieve. At a high level, keep these five tips in mind:
Don’t set deadlines. There’s no right age to start potting training, and setting a deadline could result in unnecessary pressure for both of you. Kids usually start to show signs of potty training readiness around 18 to 24 months, but every child is different. So don’t get a particular age stuck in your mind — and don’t feel pressured by friends or family who think your child should start at a particular time. As you’re determining when to start potty training, take the Potty Training Readiness Quiz to figure out if your toddler is ready. Also, watch for these signs:
Pulling at a wet or dirty diaper.
Hiding to pee or poop.
- Showing interest or copying the behavior of people who are using the bathroom.
- Staying dry in their diaper for longer than usual.
- Waking up dry from a nap.
- Telling you that they’re about to go or have just gone.
Tour the preschool together. Once your potty training plan is underway at home, start thinking about how you can help your toddler transition to potty training at preschool. While there’s no best time of the year to start potty training, you definitely don’t want to introduce it at home right before school’s about to start. Preschool is a big adjustment for kids, and the stress of something new combined with the stress of trying to learn how to use the potty can be too much for little ones.
As you’re getting ready for the big start of preschool, take your child for a tour. It will help them feel more comfortable with what’s ahead — and not just for potty-related topics. Talk to your child’s teacher and learn how the potty situation is handled in the classroom, and be sure your child knows what to expect. Tell your child how to tell the teacher when they need to go. But be sure to let them know that all kids have accidents, and it will be OK if they have one at school — neither you nor their teacher will be upset. Let them know they’ll have a change of clothes at school just in case.
- Locate school potties and test them out. Knowing where the toilets are ahead of time can help your child visualize what they’ll do when they need to go at preschool. The Potty Seek and Find game that you may have played at home can be adjusted for when you’re touring the preschool. Instead of hiding their potty chair, just have them seek out the bathroom and the potties in it. Preschools typically have smaller, child-size toilets, so show them what that will look like. Also, let them try using the potty, flushing and washing their hands while you’re there.
- Show your toddler where the Pull-Ups® training pants are stored. While you’re touring the preschool, point out where the teacher will keep their Pull-Ups® training pants — in case they need to change them after an accident — as well as a back-up set of clothes. For kids with a cautious potty training personality in particular, knowing all the details ahead of time can help put them at ease.
- Find new books about preschool and potty training. Lots of kids love to have their parents read stories while they’re going potty. Take a trip the library or your favorite bookstore and search for books that will help guide them through this new adventure. You could also make your child’s own My Potty Book to tell their story! And download the Potty Time Sequence Cards to talk through all the steps of going to the potty.
As you’re preparing your little one for preschool potty training, check out these additional tips from daycare providers too.
What Your Child Needs for Potty Training Away from Home
Print out our Potty Training On-the-Go list so you remember to gather all the essentials before you head out to preschool or any other place away from home. The list includes:
- Extra Pull-Ups® training pants and underwear
- A spare pair of pants and socks
- A travel pack of Pull-Ups® flushable wipes
- A gallon-size, resealable zip-top plastic bag for wet clothing
- Any “must-have” potty props such as stickers or a special book
With all these tips in mind, you and your child can feel more prepared and confident about what’s ahead. But remember: Staring preschool is a big deal! While it’s been decades since you started preschool, you might remember your first day at high school, college or a new job. It’s stressful no matter what age you are. So give out some extra hugs. Make sure you take time to listen to how your toddler is feeling. And celebrate that big first day with something special like a trip for ice cream. You both deserve it!