When’s the best time to start potty training?

by Aimee Jakes |

In this article:

It's very easy to drive yourself completely potty when it comes to potty-training.

How do you know when your toddler's ready to be potty trained? When should you start and when is too soon? We've got to the bottom (sorry) of when you should start potty-training your tot.

When should I start potty training?

Generally speaking, children aren't ready to start using a potty until they are between 18 months and three years old, though everyone is different. Boys tend to take a little longer than girls to ditch the nappies.

In the 1950's, the average child started potty training between 15 and 18 months, however, due to a wider availability of affordable nappies and parents working more hours, the average child is now three and a half before they're fully trained.

Here are some questions you could ask yourself before deciding if your little one is ready for the next step:

  • Can your child walk to and sit on a potty?

  • Can your child pull down their pants and pull them up again?

  • Can your child stay dry for up to two hours?

  • Can your child tell you when they need to go?

  • Does your child seem interested in using the toilet or wearing proper pants?

If you answered mostly "yes" then your child is likely to be ready to start potty training.  If you answered mostly "no" then it may be wise to wait a bit, especially if there are any major changes coming up like a new sibling or a house move.

What's the optimum age to start potty training?

“The optimum age is around two to two and a half,” says potty training expert Amanda Jenner, director of the Potty Training Academy. “Children need to be able to understand verbal commands and also have bladder control i.e. not just muscle control but also the ability to recognize the signals that their bladder is full and they need to go to the toilet.”

18-24 months is normal, but some children may not be trained until they're three years old.

Boys also tend to be ever so slightly slower than girls and if your child has toilet-trained siblings they may be quicker. Rewards and potty training charts can help motivate your child to use the potty.

When should I put off potty training my toddler?

If they're going through a big change at home, then it may be wise to put off potty training for a short while. “If you’ve recently moved house, a new sibling has arrived or they’ve started nursery, hold off on the potty training for a month or two until everything has settled down. They need a nice, stable home life to get started properly,” adds Amanda.

What about potty training a child with special needs?

Children with special needs typically undergo potty training a little bit later than others. The process usually begins at around 5 years old, but it varies depending on your child's individual needs.

You can meet with your GP to help you through the process, as they can offer guidance on special equipment or conduct a physical assessment.

Your complete potty training timeline:

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1) A few weeks before

If you always change their nappy in the bedroom start transitioning to the bathroom so they start associating this with where people go to the toilet.

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