You are on page 1of 17

Many parents are unsure about when to start toilet teaching or "potty training.

" Not all kids are

ready at the same age, so it's important to watch your child for signs of readiness, such as
stopping an activity for a few seconds or clutching his or her diaper.

Most children begin to show these signs between 18 and 24 months, although some may be
ready earlier or later than that. And boys often start later and take longer to learn to use the potty
than girls.

Instead of using age as a readiness indicator, look for other signs that your child may be ready to
start heading for the potty, such as the ability to:

follow simple instructions

understand words about the toileting process

control the muscles responsible for elimination

verbally express a need to go

keep a diaper dry for 2 hours or more

get to the potty, sit on it, and then get off the potty

pull down diapers, disposable training pants, or underpants

show an interest in using the potty or wearing underpants

About Timing

There are some stressful or difficult times when you may want to put off starting the toilet-
teaching process when traveling, around the birth of a sibling, changing from the crib to the
bed, moving to a new house, or when your child is sick (especially if diarrhea is a factor). It may
be better to postpone it until your child's environment is stable and secure.

Also, while some experts recommend starting the process during summer because kids wear less
clothing, but it is not a good idea to wait if your child is ready.

When your child shows signs of readiness, and not before.

Healthy children aren't physically and emotionally ready to start using a potty until they are
between 18 months and three years old. Boys tend to be ready a few months later than girls.

Most parents start the training when their children are between two years and three years old.
But there's no official age, and you needn't potty train your toddler at all if you don't want to.
Your child may copy others without needing any instructions, as long as you make it clear to her
what she has to do, and where she must do it. You shouldn't force your child to use a potty if she
doesn't want to, or if she is not ready to start.

Some parents start potty training when their babies are younger than four months. This is done
by watching for signs of an imminent wee or poo and catching it in the potty. This method is
called elimination communication.

However, most health visitors don't advise this, and even suggest that children who have been
trained in this way have problems later on. They may experience setbacks with using school
toilets, or when they encounter stressful situations. It's better to wait until your child is ready, and
is showing an interest.

A child under two years cannot control when they wee and poo. The muscles that control their
bladder and rectum aren't mature until they reach about 18 months to two years. That's why
waiting for signs that they are ready is the key to success, and starting too early will result in

True independence is a lot to ask of a baby, as it means that she knows:

how and when to use the toilet

how to hang on until she reaches the toilet

how to flush

how to pull her clothes up and down

how to wipe her bottom without your help

All of this doesn't happen in most children until the age of about three years or four years. This is
regardless of when you start potty training, or how you go about it.

Potty training: How to get the job done

Potty training is a major milestone. Get the facts on timing, technique and handling the
inevitable accidents.

By Mayo Clinic Staf

Potty training is a big step for kids and parents alike. The secret to success? Timing and patience.

Is it time?
Potty-training success hinges on physical and emotional readiness, not a specific age. Many kids
show interest in potty training by age 2, but others might not be ready until age 2 1/2 or even
older and there's no rush. If you start potty training too early, it might take longer to train your

Is your child ready? Ask yourself these questions:

Does your child seem interested in the potty chair or toilet, or in wearing

Can your child understand and follow basic directions?

Does your child tell you through words, facial expressions or posture when he
or she needs to go?

Does your child stay dry for periods of two hours or longer during the day?

Does your child complain about wet or dirty diapers?

Can your child pull down his or her pants and pull them up again?

Can your child sit on and rise from a potty chair?

If you answered mostly yes, your child might be ready for potty training. If you answered mostly
no, you might want to wait especially if your child has recently faced or is about to face a
major change, such as a move or the arrival of a new sibling. A toddler who opposes potty
training today might be open to the idea in a few months.

Ready, set, go!

When you decide it's time to begin potty training, set your child up for success. Start by
maintaining a positive attitude and recruiting all of your child's caregivers to do the same.
Then follow these steps.

Pull out the equipment

Place a potty chair in the bathroom or, initially, wherever your child is spending most of his or
her time. Have your child decorate the chair. Encourage your child to sit on the potty chair
with or without a diaper. Make sure your child's feet rest firmly on the floor or a stool.

Help your child understand how to talk about the bathroom using simple, correct terms. You
might dump the contents of a dirty diaper into the potty chair to show its purpose, or let your
child see family members using the toilet.

Schedule potty breaks

If your child is interested, have him or her sit on the potty chair or toilet without a diaper for a
few minutes several times a day. For boys, it's often best to master urination sitting down, and
then move to standing up after bowel training is complete.

Read a potty-training book or give your child a toy to use while sitting on the potty chair or
toilet. Stay with your child when he or she is in the bathroom. Even if your child simply sits
there, offer praise for trying and remind your child that he or she can try again later. To
maintain consistency, try to bring the potty chair or a portable potty with you when you're away
from home with your child.

Get there Fast!

When you notice signs that your child might need to use the toilet such as squirming,
squatting or holding the genital area respond quickly. Help your child become familiar with
these signals, stop what he or she is doing, and head to the toilet. Praise your child for telling you
when he or she has to go.

Teach girls to wipe carefully from front to back to prevent bringing germs from the rectum to the
vagina or bladder. When it's time to flush, let your child do the honors. Make sure your child
washes his or her hands afterward.

Consider incentives

Some kids respond to stickers or stars on a chart. For others, trips to the park or extra bedtime
stories are effective. Reinforce your child's effort with verbal praise, such as, "How exciting!
You're learning to use the toilet just like big kids do!" Be positive even if a trip to the toilet isn't

Ditch the diapers

After several weeks of successful potty breaks, your child might be ready to trade diapers for
training pants or underwear. Celebrate this transition. Go on a special outing. Let your child pick
out his or her underwear. Once your child is wearing training pants or regular underwear, avoid
overalls, belts, leotards or other items that could hinder undressing.

Sleep soundly

Most children master daytime bladder control first, often within about two to three months of
consistent toilet training. Nap and nighttime training might take months or years longer. In
the meantime, use disposable training pants or mattress covers when your child sleeps.

Know when to call it quits

If your child resists using the potty chair or toilet or isn't getting the hang of it within a few
weeks, take a break. Chances are he or she isn't ready yet. Try again in a few months.

Accidents will happen

You might breathe easier once your child figures out how to use the toilet, but expect occasional
accidents and near misses. Here's help preventing and handling wet pants:

Offer reminders. Accidents often happen when kids are absorbed in activities that for
the moment are more interesting than using the toilet. To fight this phenomenon,
suggest regular bathroom trips, such as first thing in the morning, after each meal and
snack, and before getting in the car or going to bed. Point out telltale signs of holding it,
such as holding the genital area.

Stay calm. Kids don't have accidents to irritate their parents. If your child has an
accident, don't scold, discipline or shame your child. You might say, "You forgot this
time. Next time you'll get to the bathroom sooner."

Be prepared. If your child has frequent accidents, absorbent underwear might be best.
Keep a change of underwear and clothing handy, especially at school or in child care.

When to seek help

Occasional accidents are harmless, but they can lead to teasing, embarrassment and alienation
from peers. If your potty-trained child reverts or loses ground especially at age 4 or older
or you're concerned about your child's accidents, contact his or her doctor.

Sometimes wetting problems indicate an underlying physical condition, such as a urinary tract
infection or an overactive bladder. Prompt treatment can help your child become accident-free.
The timing of toilet training: What's the best potty

training age?

2006-2015 Gwen Dewar, all rights reserved

What is the right potty training age? The answer depends on you, your goals, and the
characteristics of your child. Here I cover

What the scientific evidence says about the timing of potty training

Infant potty training (0-12 months)

Older infant/ young toddler training (12-18 months)

Older toddlers (18-24 months)

Potty training after 24 months


In many parts of the world, toilet training begins early--sometimes within weeks of birth.
Without being punished or abused, babies learn basic toilet training skills before they can walk.
And they never wear diapers.

The situation is very different in the United States, where children may wear diapers for 2, 3 or
even 4 years. According to a recent study, African-American parents believe that toilet training
should begin around 18 months. Caucasian-American parents believe that training should start
even later--after 25 months, on average (Horn et al 2006).
These attitudes are new. In past generations, most American children were out of diapers by 18
months (Martin et al 1984). Today, many kids dont master basic toilet training skills until they
are almost 3 years old. In a recent study, more than half the children over 32 months failed to
stay dry during the day (Schum et al 2002). Its a trend observed in Europe, too (Largo et al
1996; Bakker and Wyndaele 2000; Horstmanshoff et al 2003). Since the Second World War, kids
are taking longer and longer to learn toileting skills.

Should you followor buckthis trend?

Potty-trained children avoid diaper rash and diaper-related infectionslike yeast, giardia and
rotavirus. Their parents save money and time on diapering, and have more flexibility when
searching for preschools.

This suggests that an earlier potty training age is better. But many parents worry that early
training can be harmful. Theyve heard potty experts" warn that early training causes behavioral
problems or personality disorders. Its therefore surprising to discover that these worries are

The timing of potty training: What the scientific evidence says

Despite what you might have heard about behavioral problems or Freudian personality disorders,
there is no scientific evidence that an early potty training age harms children.

In fact, earlier training may be beneficial.

Besides avoiding diaper rash and diaper-born infections, young children who were trained in
infancy are less likely to suffer recurrent urinary tract infections. That's likely because they learn
to empty their bladders completely -- eliminating any residual urine that can harbor bacteria.
Children who don't begin training until after the age of 24 months may not reach this milestone
until their third birthdays (Duong et al 2013). There is also evidence that early trainees are at
lower risk for developing problems with incontinence later in life. For the details, read my article
on what scientific studies tell us about the timing of potty training.

Why does early training have a bad rap? One reason, I suspect, is that people confuse when to
train" with how to train." Many people assume that early training means using harsh, coercive
methods. It does not. When parents use gentle, age-appropriate methods, early training is safe.

Nevertheless, early training isnt right for everyone. In the rest of this article, I compare the
advantages and disadvantages associated with training four different potty training age groups:

Infants (0-12 months)

Young toddlers (12-18 months)

Older toddlers (18 months and up)

Preschoolers (27 months and beyond)

Infant potty training: 0-12 months

It sounds bizarre to many Westerners. But for parents in places like India, China, and East Africa
(deVries and deVries 1977; Boucke 2002), the traditional potty training age is early infancy. In
these societies, parents learn to recognize their babies body signals and to use these signals to
anticipate when their babies eliminate.

When the infant is ready to go, the parent holds him over a sink, bowl, toilet, or the open ground.
As the infant voids, the parent makes a characteristic sound or gesture. The baby learns to
associate this parental sign with voiding, and, eventually, the parental sign becomes an invitation
to void. When the baby feels the urge to go, he learns to hold back for a brief time until his
parent gives him the all clear."

This isnt what many people mean by toilet training." Babies obviously cant walk or flush or
wipe themselves, so infant toilet training is necessarily a more modest affair-- staying dry with
parental supervision.

But such early training has its benefits. To the degree that babies avoid diapers, they avoid diaper
rash and diaper-associated infections.

Parents also avoid some of the problems associated with training older children. Babies arent
used to wearing diapers, so they dont have as many habits to break. And at this early potty
training age, the smell of a childs urine and feces is less objectionable to most people. If you
wait until a later potty training age, cleaning up accidents will be more unpleasant.

When exactly does training start?

Traditionally, infant potty training begins during the first three months after birth (Boucke 2003).
However, some advocates recommend a somewhat later potty training age (3-6 months), when
babies pee less frequently and can sit up on their own. Once a baby can sit up--straight and
steady--you can train her on a potty chair.

Learn more about a chair-based training method here.

Its possible to start later, too--between 6-12 months.

However, toilet training veterans say infant training can be more difficult if your baby has
learned to crawl or is learning to walk. Once babies discover mobility, they are less patient about
sitting still on a potty chair. And one writer suggests that older babies, like older children, have
become accustomed to wearing diapers and ignoring their body signals (Boucke 2003).

Choosing the right potty training age for older infants and young toddlers
(12-18 months)

In 1920s and 1930s, European and American parents often began training between 12-18 months
(Bakker and Wyndaele 2000).

However, depending on your childs personality and developmental schedule, this could be a
difficult potty training age.

For one thing, older babies and toddlers may find it hard to break the diaper habit. For another,
children learning to walk may be too excited to sit still on a potty chair (Brazelton and Sparrow

In one study, children aged 15-19 months were more resistant to sitting on potty chairs than
were younger and older children (Sears et al 1957).
But this potty training age has its advantages. Children under 18 months are often eager to please
adults--a trait that older kids may lack (think of the terrible twos.")

If youre interested, you can try the infant potty-chair method. If your child resists, back off and
try later. And keep realistic goals. This potty training age is about staying dry with careful
parental supervision.

If you decide to wait until a later potty training age, you can still put this time to good use. The
interval between 12-18 months is the perfect time to start thinking about toilet readiness--a set of
skills and interests that will help your child master advanced toilet skills later on (see below).
You can make potty training easier if you actively prepare your child months in advance. Find
tips on potty training preparation here.

Potty training after 18 months: Should you wait for signs of "toilet

According to many potty training guides (American Academy of Pediatrics 2006), most children
are not ready to begin training until 18-24 months.

However, there is nothing sacred about this potty training age-range. The recommendation that
you start after 18 months is based on the idea that children should show signs of toilet
readiness" before you ask them to use the potty. A variety of diagnostic signs have been
proposed. Many of these signs require pretty advanced developmental skills--hence their
association with an older potty training age.

Proposed signs include developmental milestones--like walking, the ability to follow verbal
commands, and the ability to stay dry for two hours at a time. They also include new attitudes,
like your child says he wants to do things for himself," and your child tells you he wants to
wear grow-up underwear."

Waiting until your child is ready sounds reasonable. Who would want to train a child who isnt
ready? The trouble lies with definitions of readiness.

Does your child need to walk to use a potty? Does your child need to express an interest in
underwear? The answer depends on your goal. If your goal is for your child to walk into the
bathroom and sit on the potty by herself, then you obviously should wait until she can walk. But
if youre interested in the more modest goals of infant-toddler training, you dont need to wait for
signs of advanced readiness."

But even if your goal is complete toilet independence, you must work up to this goal gradually
(Bakker 2002). No matter when or how you train, your child will be less competent than an
adult. Most fully-trained children arent ready to go to the bathroom unattended until 36 months
or later (Gesell and Ilg 1943; McKeith 1973; Bakker 2002).

Meanwhile, its probably not good idea to wait passively for your child to exhibit the signs.

For one thing, it can lead to late training--a problem if you prefer an earlier potty training age.

One recent study (tracking over 265 kids of potty training age for 12 months or more) found that
children did not show many signs until after their second year (Schum et al 2002).

For instance, most children did not show an interest in using the potty until after 24 months.
Staying dry for over 2 hours" took more than 26 months for half the children, and most kids
couldnt pull down their own underwear until they were over 29 months old (Schum et al 2002).

More importantly, passive waiting does nothing to help your child get ready. If you review the
official checklists, youll see that many--if not most--signs can be encouraged or taught.

Regardless of your long-term goals, it makes sense to prepare your child for training (Canadian
Pediatric Society 2000; Schmidt 2004; Sears et al 2002). With the right kind of preparation, you
may help your child reach potty training age earlier.

Potty training after 24 months: Is it better to wait?

For many American children today, potty training age" means 24 months or beyond. Is this a
good thing?

Unfortunately, there hasnt been much research on this subject.

One study reported that an earlier potty training age--starting between 18-24 months--was
associated with longer total training times overall (Schum et al 2002).

Other research suggests that an earlier training helps to protect kids from developing
bladder problems later in life (Barone et al 2009; Bakker 2002, Bakker et al 2002).

For more information, see my article on what scientific studies tell us about the timing of potty

Summing up: How does timing matter?

Based on current evidence, an early potty training age does not lead to behavioral problems. And
an earlier start can bring many benefits, including reduced rates of diaper rash, urinary tract
infections, and stool toileting refusal. But this does not mean that a childs age has no effect on
the training process. Timing has profound implications for your goals and methods.

On the one hand, younger children

have fewer motor skills,

are less able to articulate their needs, and

have more frequent bladder voidings (Gladh et al 2000; Yeung et al 1985)

This means that earlier training requires more adult supervision. The training process itself may
also take longer (Blum et al 2003). And for the youngest children, early training means basic
training only. You cant expect a baby to walk to a potty chair and remove her pants!

On the other hand, older children have spent more of their lives wearing diapers. As a result, they

have learned to ignore body signals and must relearn them

have become used to wearing soiled diapers and may resist change

are more independent and more likely to test your authority

have more odiferous urine, making their accidents less pleasant to clean

A late starting age might also put kids at an increased risk for developing problems with
incontinence and infections (Barone et al 2009; Bakker 2002, Bakker et al 2002)

The takeaway?

If your child suffers from any urinary tract disorders (including incomplete emptying of the
bladder and urinary tract infections), its a good idea to pick an earlier potty training age (Bakker

Its also important to match your toilet training goals to your childs abilities. Otherwise, experts
agree that you should wait until your child is

healthy (no diarrhea or constipation, for example)

relaxed (not stressed by new changes, like a move or new baby),

cooperative (not going through a rebellious phase)

Beyond this, your choice of timing (as opposed to method) is unlikely to cause any long-lasting
behavior problems.

For some parents, getting rid of diapers--and potentially reducing the risk of urinary tract
problems--is worth the trouble of an earlier potty training age. For others, the convenience of
diapers overrides the potential drawbacks.

References: Choosing the right potty

training age
American Academy of Pediatrics. 2006. Toilet training readiness American Academy of
Pediatrics website. (visited November 24, 2006).

Bakker E; Wyndaele JJ. 2000. Changes in the toilet training of children during the last 60 years:
the cause of an increase in lower urinary tract dysfunction? British journal of Urology,

Bakker W. 2002. Research into the influence of potty training on lower urinary tract dysfunction.
Unpublished MD dissertation, Department of urology, University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Bakker E, van Gool JD, van Sprundel M, van der Auwera JC, and Wyndaele JJ. 2002. Results of
a quaestionaire evaluating the effects of different methods of toilet training on achieving bladder
control. British Journal of Urology, 90: 456-461.

Barone JG, Jasutkar N, Schneider D. 2009. Later toilet training is associated with urge
incontinence in children. J Pediatr Urol. 5(6):458-61.

Blum NJ, Taubman B, and Nemeth N. 2003. Relationship between age at initiation of toilet
training and duration of training: A prospective study. Pediatrics, 111: 810-814.

Boucke L. 2003. Infant Potty Basics. Lafayette, CO: White-Boucke Publishing.

Brazelton TB and Sparrow JD. 2004. Toilet training the Brazelton way. Cambridge, MA: deCapo

Canadian Pediatric Society. 2000. Toilet learning: Anticipatory guidances with a child-oriented
approach. Paediatrics and Child Heath, 5: 333-5.

deVries MW and deVries MR. 1977. Cultural relativity of toilet training readiness: A perspective
from East Africa. Pediatrics, 60: 170-177.
Duong TH, Jansson UB, Holmdahl G, Silln U, Hellstrm AL. 2013. Urinary bladder control
during the first 3 years of life in healthy children in Vietnam--a comparison study with Swedish
children. J Pediatr Urol. 9(6 Pt A):700-6.

Gesell A and Ilg FL. 1943. Infant and child in the culture of today: The guidance of development
in home and nursery school. New York: Harper and Brothers.

Gladh G, Persson D Mattsson S and Lindstrom S. 2000. Voiding pattern in healthy newborns.
Neurourology and urodynamics, 19: 177-184.

Horn IB, Brenner R, Rao M, and Cheng TL. 2006. Beliefs about the appropriate age for initiating
toilet training: Are their racial and socioeconomic differences? Journal of Pediatrics, 149: 165-

Horstmanshoff BE, Regterschot GJ, Nieuwenhuis EE, Benninga MA, Verwijs W, and Waelkens
JJ. 2003.[Bladder control in 1-4 year old children in the the Eindhoven and Kempen region (The
Netherlands) in 1996 and 1966]

Largo RH, Molinari L, von Siebenthal K, and Wolfensberger U. 1996. Does a profound change
in toilet-training affect development of bowel and bladder control? Dev Med Child Neurol. 38:

Martin JA, King DR, Maccoby EE, and Jaklin CN. 1984. Secular trends and individual
differences in toilet-training progress. Journal of Pediatric Psychology 9: 457-468.

McKeith R. 1973. How children become dry. Child Dev Med., 48/49: 3-32.

Schum TR, Kolb TM, McAuliffe TL, Simms, MD, Underhill, RL and Lewis M. 2002. Sequential
acquisition of toilet-training skills: A descriptive study of gender and age differences in normal
children. Pediatrics 109: 48-54.

Schmidt BA. 2004. Toilet training: Getting it right the first time. Contemporary Pediatrics, 21:

Sears RR, Maccoby EE, and Levin H. 1957. Patterns of childrearing. Evanston, Ill.: Row,
Peterson and Company.

Sears W, Sears M and Watts Kelly C. 2002. You can go to the potty. Boston, MA Little, Brown
and Company.

Taubman B. 1997. Toilet training and toileting refusal for stool only: A prospective study.
Pediatrics, 99: 54-58.
Yeung, CK, Godley ML, Ho, CK, Ransley PG, Duffy PG, Chen CN, Li AK. 1995. Some new
insights into bladder function in infancy. British Journal of Urology, 76:235-40.

Toilet training, or potty training, is the process of training a young child to use the toilet for
urination and defecation, though training may start with a smaller toilet bowl-shaped device
(often known as a potty). Cultural factors play a large part in what age is deemed appropriate,
with the expectation for being potty trained ranging from 12 months for some tribes in Africa[1]
to 36 months in the modern United States.[2] Most children can control their bowel before their
bladder, boys typically start and finish later than girls, and it usually takes boys longer to learn to
stay dry throughout the night, however it depends on the maturity and consistency of the
particular child.[vague][3]

Most people advise that toilet training is a mutual task, requiring cooperation, agreement and
understanding between the child and the caregiver, and the best potty training techniques
emphasize consistency and positive reinforcement over punishment making it enjoyable for the
child. The vast majority of studies concentrate on children 18 months old and older. For that time
frame, research suggests that children over 24 months train faster and girls train slightly faster
than boys

The Right Age to Toilet Train

Susans nearly three and still in diapers? Hmmm. I had every one of my kids trained by eighteen
months, and they never even wet the bed after that. Wouldnt you like to have a nickel for every
time youve heard a comment like this?

Chances are that if you have been subject to such remarks, they came from a member of an older
generation who parented at a time when early training was popular. It is easy for adults with
grown children to forget the many accidents and regressions that almost certainly followed such
early training.

It is also true that toilet training was defined differently back then compared to how we view it
now. One-year-olds were placed on the potty after meals, for instance, and held there until they
eliminated. In some cases, such ill-advised methods as enemas, physical punishment, shaming,
and even strapping the child to the potty were used to make sure she eliminated before leaving
the bathroom. Such procedures are based on conditioning rather than real learningmore like
housebreaking a pet than helping a child achieve self-mastery. While the one-year-old may have
eventually learned to connect sitting on the potty with urinating or passing stool, success still
depended on the adults noting that it was time for potty use, physically placing the child on the
potty, and keeping her there until she eliminated.

The other skills that a fully toilet-trained child must acquirethe ability to recognize her own
need to use the bathroom, wait until she gets to a toilet, lower her pants, and sit long enough to
achieve successdepend on cognitive, emotional, and physiological developments that usually
emerge only after about age eighteen to twenty-four months.

The truth is that most popular assumptions about the best age to toilet-trainin this and most
other countriesdepend more on the adults needs, desires, and cultural attitudes than on a
typical childs readiness to control her bodily functions. In many African and South American
cultures, where mothers and babies stay in almost constant physical contact and babies dont
wear diapers, mothers train their babies from birth by positioning them over whatever place
they wish them to eliminate into the moment they sense that the child is about to void. In Finland
and other northern European countries, children are traditionally placed on the potty after a
feeding from infancy onwardand if the child happens to urinate or defecate while shes held
there, she is praised.

One reason why toilet training was usually initiated during the first year in the United States until
recently is that it reduced the workload of the caregiver, who had to clean many cloth diapers
daily. Toilet training this early is still common among families for whom disposable diapers or a
diaper service is a major expense or who must, unfortunately, depend on a child-care facility or
preschool that enforces a no-diapers rule.

Generally speaking, initiating training before eighteen months is unlikely to do any damage as
long as your expectations for your childs performance are realistic and no punishment or abuse
is involved. But child-development experts now believe that toilet training works best for most
families if it can be delayed until the child is ready to control much of the process herself.
Children younger than twelve months not only are unlikely to be ready in terms of bladder and
bowel control, but may not yet have the physical skills needed to get to the potty and remove
their clothing in time.

Theres also the question of emotional readiness: The desire to use a potty, a positive attitude
toward the training process, and the ability to manage any bathroom related fears are all part of
emotional readiness, and they may not occur until age two, three, or four, or may come and go as
your child grows. Her verbal abilities, which enable her to learn through conversation and
instruction and to express any fears or anxieties that arise, may start to expand quickly only at
age two or three. Even the social awareness that motivates some children to imitate their
siblings or playmates bathroom use increases steadily through the toddler years and into

Each of these aspects of development occurs at different times for different children, and you are
the best judge of when your child has acquired enough of the necessary physical, social,
emotional, and cognitive skills to begin training. You or other members of your family may also
find that you yourselves are better able to manage the training process at one time than at another
a period when you are not feeling particularly stressed, when you have time off work, or when
you foresee no major changes at home.

Since the fluctuations of a childs development and her familys situation are impossible to
predict, its best to avoid assuming that your child will begin training by a certain age. Instead,
consider taking the readiness approachreading about the telltale signs of readiness, looking for
them in your child, and only then beginning training, regardless of your childs age.

In general, the longer you wait before beginning toilet training, the easier and quicker the process
is likely to be since your child will have become more self-sufficient. Still, even toddlers can
learn to use the potty quite easily during periods when their natural negativity has abated
somewhat and they are highly motivated to learn.