Summer? Fall? Winter? Spring? Is there a best time to begin potty training? We asked experts and parents what they thought and most agreed it's not the time of the year that matters, but when your child is ready.
It might be your New Year’s resolution to get your child out of diapers for good, but your child may not be on the same timeframe. The key to potty training is not to do it when it’s convenient for you, but when your child is mentally, physically, and developmentally ready.
"There is no correct time to potty train" says Dr. Heather Wittenberg, a child development expert and author. "It’s important for parents to listen to their toddlers, look for signs of readiness, and focus on their individual personalities, rather than focusing on convenient times to potty train.”
It's not the season that matters. Instead, it could be as simple as when your child begins to watch you go and starts asking questions. Does your child stay dry for a longer-than-usual amount of time? Do they pull at a wet or dirty diaper? Are they hiding to pee or poop? If so, now might be the time to introduce them to the potty and demonstrate how it's used.
Summer may seem like a good time to begin potty training because your child is wearing fewer clothes with the warm weather. That may make getting to the potty to do their business a lot easier, but if your child isn’t ready, then even that won’t help.
Back to school timing may also seem right if your child needs to be potty trained to attend their school. While that may be more convenient, you can't force it. If you do, you may encounter more accidents and setbacks with your child as a result. Work with the school to discuss this, and watch and listen for signs of readiness.
Atlanta mom Austin Walker knows from experience that it’s best to wait till the signs are there. In fact, her three-year-old son began telling her he was ready to start pooping in the potty at around 18 months. Austin said, "I immediately ordered a potty seat and purchased his first pack of Pull-Ups® Training Pants." This allowed them to start the potty training journey together.
It took a little longer for him to regularly pee in the potty, she says. “When I transitioned him to Pull-Ups, he pooped in the potty almost every time after that. The pee was more work. It took several months before we went accident-free. We started out going to the potty every hour where he would sit for 30 seconds while we counted together. We had a huge celebration if pee was made! If not, he jumped off and went back an hour later.”
"For my one-year-old daughter, I'm hoping to start potty training around 18 months, but I will not push if she is not ready," she says. "Though we are going to Disney next July, and it would be great not to pack diapers!" She knows that if the time isn’t right for her daughter, then the calendar makes no difference.
The bottom line is parents should listen to their children and watch for cues that it’s time to move forward with potty training when they’re ready, not just when it’s convenient for you.