On average, boys and girls complete potty training in just about the same amount of time, but girls often express interest in using the potty up to 3 months earlier than boys, on average.
Set aside your expectations. On average, it takes eight months to potty train a child, and some children take even longer. It’s time to throw away old myths and get down to the facts about potty training boys in a way that supports their health and development.The secret to potty training success has always been rooted in one factor: Readiness. That’s true for both boys and girls. Check your potty training to-do list. You’ve taken the Potty Training Readiness Quiz? Great news! You and your boy are officially ready to start potty training.
How to Start Potty Training a Boy: Preparation & Readiness is Key
How will you know when your little dude is interested in using his cool new toddler potty? The adventure begins when It’s time to potty train your boy! Before you dive into it, here’s some advice that will help prepare you and your son for his potty training adventure:
- Know when to start potty training boys. The best way to potty train a boy depends on several factors. Every boy is different, and the same can be said about their potty training experience. Some children simply transition to a potty earlier or later than others. Ultimately, it’s important that you follow the journey that works for you and your boy.
- Join the team. Remember, potty training is a partnership, and parents play an essential role as chief coach and encourager. You must stay with the effort through to success. This simple to-do list will keep you both progressing forward.
Potty Training Tips for Boys
Now it’s time to check over some simple tasks from our to-do list:
- Warm-ups: Have your child practice basic toilet tasks. Create a routine of pulling down shorts or pants, sitting on the potty, wiping, flushing — in a low-key way. Using Pull-Ups® training pants are a great way to practice pulling pants up and down, and it reinforces your child’s sense of being in charge of the process.
- Open bathroom policy: Keep an open door where your toddler can hang out with you in the bathroom while you’re doing your business. This is an important way for little kids to learn.
- Safety: Create a safe environment in the bathroom with a toddler potty on the floor or provide a sturdy step stool up to the adult toilet that includes a toddler insert. Allowing your little one to suspend themselves from an adult seat on a traditional toilet is neither comfortable or safe and can create a delay in potty training. We want to avoid falls at all cost. Instead, let your little one chooses where they want to put “their potty” – and encourage them even if their choice is in the middle of the living room! They more they feel like they’re in charge, the more successful they’ll feel and be.
- Start with sitting: First, teach your little man to use the potty sitting down. Most toddler potties come with splash guards, so teach him how to aim below the splash guard to keep the urine in the potty. This will help him when he’s ready to stand and aim into a toilet, which is a skill that comes later. Your son takes his cues from the other dudes in his family. Eventually he will learn how the big guys do it.
- Potty training pack: Keep a “potty training pack” of a pair of pants or shorts and Pull-Ups® training pants tucked into a zipper bag, and stash one in your car, in your purse, backpack or bag, and at the grandparents’ house.
- Potty partners: Talk with any potty partners like babysitters, grandparents, daycares and other caregivers. Share your potty training game plan and get everyone involved in the process—this will surround your little guy with a group of encouragers that will create an environment for success!
- Other potties: Point out all the potties in other places, like at grandpa’s house and at the grocery store. Laugh and giggle as you explore the fact that potties are everywhere, and your little one will come away with the idea that they can find a potty when they need one.
- Stock up! Make sure to stock up on Pull-Ups® training pants with your son’s favorite characters. Purchase underpants with your son's favorite characters on them as well. Go shopping with your son and let him pick out underwear he aspires to wear from his favorite characters or in his favorite colors. When he puts them on at home, brag about what a big boy he is growing up to be!
- Keep books, toys, stickers, and other fun activities in a basket in the bathroom—this allows your little dude to make potty training his own fun time. Letting him lead in ways that feel comfortable to him is a key to success and supporting his good development. Let him decorate his potty with stickers! Giving your son the chance to personalize his potty is a fun activity that can make him take ownership of the training experience.
- Put toddler potties all around the house—in the kitchen, your son’s play area and in the room where your family typically spends time. The closer your son is to the potty when he feels the need to go, the more likely he is to make it.
- Reward Your Boy's Success: Rewards and incentives are a great way to acknowledge your boy’s accomplishments along the way and to celebrate a job well done. Craft a potty training treasure chest for your son. Your little guy will let his excitement lead him. He’s learning to use the potty!
- Create an incentive chart that works for your little boy. You know best which rewards appeal to your child – stickers, small treats, video time or a coveted toy. Make sure to have a small reward ready, such as placing a sticker on the chart, every time he goes.
By Lakisa Ballard, MSN, RN, C-EFM, RNC-OB
Lakisa Ballard, MSN, RN, C-EFM, RNC-OB, is a Clinical Practice Specialist in Maryland. The information of this article has been prepared by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.