In the late 1990s, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton and other pediatricians pioneered the idea that children are sometimes pushed into potty training before they’re ready. They recommended that, instead, parents should follow the lead of their children in the process, watching for signs of “toilet training readiness.” Since then, many pediatricians and parents alike have embraced this approach. What, though, are the signs of readiness?

An article in shares that, although opinions vary on the exact signs, most experts agree on three issues. You should wait until your toddler is healthy (not experiencing constipation or diarrhea), cooperative (not in a stage of rebellion) and relaxed (not going through significant life changes). After that, recommendations tend to differ to some degree. The article lists what readiness signs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) checklist contains, including that your child:potty-training.jpg

  • has regular/predicable bowel movements
  • can follow simple directions
  • can walk to and from the bathroom
  • can help get himself/herself undressed

You can read the entire article for more recommendations from AAP, along with other experts.

It can also help to read about the experiences of other parents. In, one mother shares ten signs that she’s noticed. They include when a toddler tries to pull off a wet or messy diaper and/or when he or she hides when going to the bathroom in his or her diaper. Another sign is when the child becomes interested, even fascinated, by the potty. Your toddler may want to follow you into the bathroom, eager to know what happens there. Or he or she may want to sit on a potty chair, even if nothing actually happens. Still other signs include when your child can stay dry in his or her diaper for longer periods of time and/or tells you when a diaper is wet or messy.

Potty Training Tips

When you decide it’s time to begin toilet training, it can be helpful to try these potty training tips by the experts at the Mayo Clinic. First, know that your child will likely become trained during the daytime first, nighttime second. To begin training, you should place his or her potty chair in the bathroom or another area where your child spends plenty of time. Have your child sit on the potty first with clothes on and talk to him or her about the toilet in a positive way.

Then, start to schedule regular potty breaks, ones where your child sits on the chair without wearing a diaper. It makes sense to do this first thing in the morning and right before bedtime, as well as at two-hour intervals in between. Praise your child for all attempts. If you notice signs that suggest your child needs to use the potty in between those times, get him or her there – fast. Praise your child for indicating he or she needs to go to the bathroom.

Throughout this process, teach your child good hygiene, including wiping procedures and hand washing ones. After a couple of weeks of this process, try trading diapers for training pants or underwear, returning to diapers if your child isn’t staying dry.

You could use a sticker system to reward your child for successes. If you discover your child isn’t being successful within a few weeks, take a break and try again in a few months to avoid turning toilet training into a power struggle. You can read the entire Mayo Clinic article for more tips.

New Call-to-action