Teaching your child to use a toilet can be easy for some families while others may struggle. Most children are ready to use a toilet consistently between the ages of 2 and 3 and can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months for them to fully grasp the concept. Encouraging them and being patient with the process is important as any negativity or shame associated with accidents can delay the process and make your child feel bad.

Before starting the potty training adventure keep in mind there will be accidents and your child will likely still need a diaper at night – and may wet the bed until 6 or 7 years old. If your toddler is very hesitant and/or stubborn when trying to potty train, it is best to wait a few weeks and revisit the process. If you are worried about your child’s potty-training process talk to their doctor.

A few signs that your child is ready to use the toilet include:

  • Dry diapers for 2 hours or longer
  • Regular bowel movements
  • Facial expressions show they are ready to pee or poo
  • They ask to be changed when their diaper is wet or dirty and may tell you “I am peeing” or “I am pooping” when they are
  • They show interest in using the toilet and may ask to wear “big kid” underwear
  • They can undress themselves

Some tips for starting the process:

  • Introduce the concept of using a toilet before you begin the potty-training process. This can include reading books about using a toilet and having them sit on the toilet for “fun.” Some great books can be found here: Potty-Training Books.
  • Take 2-3 days to stay home all day and keeping a watchful eye on them while constantly asking “Do you have to use the potty?” and taking them to the toilet every 20 min or so, even if they say they don’t have to go. Give them a lot of liquids to give them plenty of opportunities to use the toilet.
  • Pull-ups are a great in-between stage because they allow you to start training without the fear of an accident in a not-so-convenient place, they pull up like underwear but can be thrown away. When not at home, always bring extra clothes, underwear and pullups as backup.
  • Create a potty chart where your child can see their successes and give them a prize for a certain number of successful trips to the toilet. This will be encouraging and help make the process fun. Examples can be found on the First 5 San Diego Pinterest Board.