Toddlers and Toilets: Are They Ready?

baby girl toilet

With kids, it seems there is always a new adventure on the horizon. If you have a toddler, you may be starting to think about when and how your child will learn to use the toilet (bye, bye diapers!).

In the “old days” (meaning, when you were a child!), this was often referred to as “toilet training.” This meant that an adult “trained” the child to use the toilet.

Today, the new buzz word is “toilet learning.”

Learning, meaning the child takes an active role in the process.

In parenthood, there are “windows of opportunity.” Parents know their children best and can most easily recognize when their child is interested and ready for a new discovery. There is no magic age for children to begin using the toilet, although most children begin to show an interest between the ages of 24 and 36 months.

{ MORE: 10 Lessons from a Potty Training Mom }

A few signs that your child is ready to begin “toilet learning” include:

  • You may notice that your child is interested in the potty. They may want to put paper into it or flush it.
  • Your child may ask to sit on the toilet, with a diaper on or off.
  • Your child may bring you a diaper and tell you they are wet or have had a bowel movement.

If you believe your child may be ready to explore the use of the toilet, consider the following:

  • Purchase some toddler underwear (in addition to the cartoon underwear, look for thicker, cotton underwear that are more absorbent) and provide them time to wear them. Times may include a morning at home or quiet evening versus when you are traveling or running errands. Today’s diapers are so absorbent that a child may not even feel that they are wet.
  • Use a child-friendly/child-sized potty. Imagine that the toilet you used was more than half as tall as you. You may be overwhelmed or frightened by the thought of sitting on such a thing. Provide the choice for your child. Don’t be surprised if your child decides to try out both.
  • Make toileting positive. This may be a great time for reading books and singing songs. Toileting should not become a power struggle. If it does, chances are you will lose and may experience a setback.
  • Successful toileting is great feedback for a child. There is no additional need for a reward (i.e. M&M’s). On the flip side, when a child has an accident, there is no value in punishment.
  • Be patient. Sometimes, it is difficult to not get caught in the conversation of what a friend or family member’s child is doing (or not doing). Children develop individually. Toilet learning will occur when your child is ready. If you have concerns, talk to your pediatrician.

{ MORE: The Lazy Potty Training Method }

What do you think?

Toddlers and Toilets: Are They Ready?

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66 comments

  1. Profile photo of tmillington2 tmillington2 says:

    I find that girls are about the same as boys. My daughter seems like she just is not interested in potty training.

  2. Profile photo of Theresa Theresa says:

    I haven’t potty learned my baby yet.. she is only 17 months now. However, she does know when she is having a bm and does let us know when she needs a changing. We’ll ask if she needs a diaper change, and she gives a ‘yes’ head nod. She also knows the difference between pee-pee and poo-poo. I am hoping to get her out of diapers by her 2nd birthday.

  3. Profile photo of erika erika says:

    My daughter is 14mos. We bought a potty seat. She sits on it when I go to the bathroom.

  4. Profile photo of Tori99 Tori99 says:

    My daughter is 14 months. She isn’t good at communication but I have place her on her potty chair since she was 13 months. She knows what her potty chair is used for and she used it every now and then but I have to place her on it. If she sat on it for a while, then she is using it. If she jumps out, then she doesn’t need to go. She is comfortable with her potty chair at home. However, she doesn’t want to use other potty chairs at other places. It will take time for her to learn to use the potty. We would like to get her potty trained before the next baby comes (2 1/2 months to go) stocking up on diapers for two will be expensive.

  5. Profile photo of Caden Caden says:

    Caden turned 3yrs January 12th. We had some time there where we were potty training and he was doing really well. Then he regressed. We backed off a little then tried again. He did well, then regressed. This time we’ve just straight out put him in underpants. We ask him “Are the Minions dry?” (He has minion undies) and he’ll say Yes. If he pees he comes straight for me. We’ve had 1 accident a day since Saturday.
    My only issue is, I have to actually take him in there and put him on the potty, he won’t tell me he has to go!!!! So we’re constantly asking if his minions are dry.
    :/ Someone please tell me this is normal?

    • Profile photo of ResseBrown ResseBrown says:

      Yes it was with my three. In the beginning I would always ask them until they got to the point of telling me. They get caught up in playing or what ever they were doing and would wet themselves. I looked for signs of them before they had an accident…. Leg cross, Moving from side to side.

  6. Profile photo of Hayley Hayley says:

    my daughter had decided she wanted to use the toilet on her own so potty training was easy lol

  7. Profile photo of joanna joanna says:

    my first daughter age 3 was potty train not to long ago and I have a two yr who I need to potty train but I think the more I force her she wont try because when im going to shower her she always telling me that she nees to pee and that when she sits on the toilet with out me forcing her at all

  8. Profile photo of Paula Paula says:

    My daughter is 22 months and sometimes I see she gives off signals,but I also do not want to force it into her. Ill see when after she turns two if she sees more interested.

  9. I hope my kid is ready to potty train at an early age

  10. Profile photo of mekerria mekerria says:

    my daughter just turned 3 she still isnt potty trained is that normal

    • Profile photo of shyangel21 shyangel21 says:

      i have a three yr old as well who isn;t potty trained. i tried and she will sit on the toilet but won;t do anything after i put her undies back on after several minutes she’ll pee. or she will tell me she has to pee and them pees without giving me a chance to rush her to the bathroom

    • Profile photo of Shiloh JohnsonEditor Shiloh Johnson says:

      I don’t think it’s good to worry about what’s “normal” with potty training, as every kid will develop at their own pace, and it’s not like you see many (if any) kids going to kindergarten still in diapers! My cousin, who has 3 kids a little older said that the best thing she would suggest with potty training is to wait until they are ready. The more the decision is theirs to potty train, the better and easier it is for you. My daughter is 2 1/2, and although a lot of kids her age have already started potty training, she doesn’t seem to be that interested. I figure her time will come 🙂 Just continue exposing it to her and talking to her about it, and one of these days (probably before you know it), she’ll be asking you to wear big girl undies and using the potty!

  11. Profile photo of Lindsay Lindsay says:

    My daughter likes to sit on the potty and pretend to wipe with her own piece of toilet paper.

  12. Profile photo of kerri kerri says:

    My daughter who is 3 just doesn’t seem like she’s ever going to use the toilet. I don;t know if its because her younger brother is still in diapers and she feels left out or if it’s something else.

  13. Profile photo of Christina Christina says:

    My daughter is 26 months and she will go with me but dont seem to know when I dont ask her to go.

  14. Profile photo of Daisy Daisy says:

    My son is using his potty

  15. Profile photo of sonya sonya says:

    My son is almost 2 and is ready to use the potty but they won’t take him to the potty at daycare until he’s actually in the two year old class this fall….so ready for him to be out of diapers!

  16. Profile photo of mamamcernie mamamcernie says:

    I agree that diapers are so expensive! My son is almost 3 and we just keep going back and forth with it. It is very frustrating.

  17. Profile photo of EbyMom EbyMom says:

    my son is almost 27 months old and we re still battling with the training. sometimes he poops in the potty but most times he does it on himself and immediately removes the diaper. i really want him to be potty trained as he now has a younger sister. diapers are really expensive.

  18. Profile photo of Mommyof3 Mommyof3 says:

    my oldest was fully potty trained by 15 months and never had an accident. now im working on my 16 month old n he tells me potty after he goes in the diaper

  19. Profile photo of tiffany tiffany says:

    i currently have a 2 year old who will tell me when he has to go potty but will wait till after he poops to tell me…any suggestions on how to get him to go on his potty chair?? i have been struggleing with this since he was a little over a year old

    • Profile photo of Jeanne Jeanne says:

      omg did you figure out how to fix it? my 17month old has been doing that for a little while now…hes not much of a talker but he walks right over and sits on his potty chair AFTER pooping/peeing in his diaper! lol

  20. Profile photo of kayla kayla says:

    my daughter is 2 and we are working with her sometimes she goes and sometimes she dont

  21. Profile photo of Janice Janice says:

    My youngest grand daughter used her potty chair until she was 5 years old. She liked the thing, and saw it as her little potty, because she was smaller than everyone else.

  22. my son is 17 months and is trying now my daughter was 1 and fully potty trained

  23. Profile photo of Hipmom808 Hipmom808 says:

    The week after my daughter turned 2, I started potty training her. On the first day I just put undies on her and every 15 mins sat her on her potty, she never peed in it. She peed on herself all day. She didn’t like the feeling. By day 2 she was going in her potty and since then never had an accident! We are blessed because diapers are expensive!

  24. Profile photo of RAQUEL RAQUEL says:

    I purchased a potty that played music. My child likes to sit on it and dance. I think that the normal potty-chairs work more efficiently because its more focused on what needs to be done.

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