When To Start Potty Training: Signs Of Potty Training Readiness

Mar 22, 2023 | 4 Minutes Read

Potty training is a family event—does that surprise you? At some point, everyone who lives in the home is involved. If you prepare and get your little one and their siblings ready for the big event, it can become an exciting transition.

Still, every child will begin toilet training in their own way, and on their own timeline. Whether they realize it or not, mom or dad, they will give you clues as to when that time has come! So, sit back and relax, and wait for these 6 signs that your little one is ready to start using a toddler potty.

6 Signs Your Child is Ready to Potty Train

Whether the start of potty training begins earlier or later for your child, know that you can give them the best experience during this journey. Get ready mom or dad—when that emerging independence starts shining through, they will be eager to meet goals set for them, including potty training.

Start looking for the active signs of readiness for when to potty train. Here are six signs that your child would show that gives an indication that they are ready!

  1. Pulling at wet or dirty diaper
  2. Hiding to pee or poop
  3. Showing interest in others use of the potty or copying their behavior
  4. Having a dry diaper for a longer time than usual
  5. Waking up dry from a nap
  6. Telling you that they need to use the bathroom or that they just went to the bathroom while having their diaper on
6 Signs Your Child Is Ready
If you're still not sure if you are ready, take our Potty Training Readiness Quiz. This fun quiz will help you recognize some of these signs of potty training readiness and determine when to start potty training.

What to Do After They Show Signs of Potty Training Readiness

The potty training journey is something you and your child will take together. It totally becomes a family adventure, so it’s important to make sure you’re ready to start when your child is and don’t be afraid to make it creative.

When a child shows readiness, that’s your sign to start preparing them for changes in their habits. This includes:

  • Buying one or more toddler potties and putting them in the rooms where your little one spends most of their time
  • Making the area around each potty engaging for your little learner—add books, toys and stickers to distract while they wait for their body to relax and go
  • Put pictures up in the bathroom showing little guys and gals learning the same skill
  • When your little one shows they can move their clothes and use the potty, reward them for this first milestone!
  • As they continue to progress toward the potty, add in rewards like a trip to a favorite park

Surf our Potty Training Resources for more advice and tips and take advantage of the learning games, quizzes and songs to help you motivate your child.

Remember the basics of being a good coach for your little potty trainer and keep things motivating right from the start by being patient, positive and consistent. Focus on what your child does right. Stay upbeat. Your happy and easy attitude will make it smoother, simpler and more rewarding for your family. Ask for creative ideas from family and friends to make it more fun.

Things To Consider When Starting To Potty Train

Potty training is a normal developmental process. Children’s bodies and brains are developing all the time, and each new phase sets the foundation for new skills to be learned. No amount of teaching can make those developments happen before their time.

Try not to potty train when your child is already dealing with a lot of change. Here are 10 examples of when NOT to push potty training:

  1. Experiencing the birth of a sibling
  2. Moving into a new home or having major family changes
  3. Transitioning from a crib into a toddler bed
  4. No longer nursing or feeding from a bottle at bedtime
  5. Being weaned from breastfeeding
  6. Stopping the use of a pacifier
  7. Starting daycare or preschool, or starting a new school
  8. Experiencing illness
  9. During the holidays
  10. When your child isn’t showing signs of potty training readiness or willingness
Ignore relatives, friends and others who may want to urge you along this journey. This is a timeline that can only be set between a toddler and their parents. Always avoid potty training while your family is experiencing any type of major stress. Waiting until things are calm will help to ensure the potty training adventure will be pleasant and successful for the entire family.

Make A Successful Start

  • Mark the Occasion: When you and your child are ready to start potty training, make it a big occasion. Mark the start of potty training with the introduction of Pull-Ups® Training Pants and a potty seat.  No need to worry about hard and fast deadlines. No matter what your mother told you, everyone’s potty training start is different.
  • Keep it positive: Keep it fun. With a positive outlook and a little creativity, potty training really can be more about quality time. Find ways to encourage your child’s early interest. Play up the fun with activities like decorating the potty chair, picking out rewards or creating a special potty progress chart together.
  • Use incentives: Don’t forget to heap on the praise and rewards right from the start. Bragging rights and the expectation of applause are strong motivators for your child. So, find those moments to celebrate and share them with everyone in your child’s cheering section.
  • Ready, Set ... Not Yet!: If your child starts out fine but then gets hopelessly stuck, no worries! It’s not unusual for the potty chair to go back into the closet for a few weeks. If your child loses interest, hold off for a while and then try again. Learn more about regression here.
The real secret of successful potty training is waiting until your child shows signs of readiness that suggest interest going potty like mom, dad or their siblings do. Like so many skills your child will gain, potty training requires developmental readiness, and it can’t be held to a deadline. Just remember patience; your fast-growing big kid will be potty trained when the time is right!

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.


Fun Disney Designs

& fading graphics to teach kids to stay dry

Pull-Ups® Potty Training Pants
Skincare essentials boys image Skincare essentials girls image

Ultra Soft & Breathable

To help protect sensitive skin

Pull-Ups® Skin Essentials Training Pants

Extra Nighttime Absorbency

With up to 12-hour overnight protection

Pull-Ups® Night*Time Training Pants