What’s the Right Age to Start Potty Training Your Child?
Just Children Child Care Centers Offers Potty Training Tips
If you’re like most of the parents we talk to at Just Children Child Care Centers, you’re probably looking forward to your child becoming more independent in the bathroom. However, you may be wondering when to start potty training. Experts agree it varies by child, depending on their signs of readiness and individual development. Most children begin potty training between the ages of 18 months and three years old, with the average age being around 27 months. Read on for potty training tips from our child care experts who are dedicated to teaching, nurturing, and building confidence among small children.
When Should Potty Training Boys and Girls Begin?
Potty training should not begin before your child is at least one year old, as infants and pre-toddlers typically can’t control their bladders and bowel movements. Starting potty training too early may yield messy results for the over-ambitious parent. Watch for signs of readiness, such as your child recognizing when they have to go to the bathroom. Body language, such as holding their genitals, crossing their legs, making a specific facial expression, or jumping up and down, conveys they physically acknowledge when their bladder is full and are capable of signaling it to you and others. You may also want to wait until they’ve established a bowel movements schedule after they begin eating solid foods more regularly.
How Can I Tell If My Child Is Ready for Potty Training?
Knowing when your child is ready to begin potty training can be tricky, but it’s best to wait until they show signs of readiness. You shouldn’t feel pressured to start the process by friends and family with good intentions, nor is it fair to compare your child’s development with that of their older siblings. Every child is different. Emotional and physical development come naturally. Trying to rush things can backfire disastrously and make potty training take longer for your child to master. Some studies have shown that children who began training too early (before 18 months) didn’t finish training until the age of four, while children who began training around the age of two were finished with training by age three. There isn’t a specific age deadline for potty training. You should follow your parenting instincts – you’ll know when you and your child are both ready to begin. Watch for these signs of readiness from your toddler:
- Your child verbally expresses wants or needs
- Your child talks about going to the potty or asks questions
- Your child exhibits more independence with dressing and undressing
- Your child wants to wear underwear like a big kid
- Your child begins imitating their older siblings or adults
- Your child can follow simple, one-step instructions
- Your child can sit on and get up from the potty
- Your child has a dry diaper for longer durations
- Your child has regular bowel movements
- Your child enjoys receiving praise and encouragement
- Your child can walk and run well (in case of potty emergencies)
How Can I Start Readying My Child for Potty Training?
There are ways to prepare your child for potty training even before they show signs of readiness. You may want to purchase a potty chair to keep in the bathroom to familiarize your child with the concept. You could even let your child pick out their potty chair to get them more excited about it. Talking to your child about going to the bathroom and answering their questions is essential to make the process feel more natural and less stressful. When changing their diapers, use words like “pee-pee” and “poop” to give your child time to distinguish between the two bodily functions. Since children often imitate the actions of siblings and adults, you could consider letting your child go into the bathroom with you or other family members to see how it’s done, especially by members of the same sex.
How to Start Potty Training Your Toddler Successfully
The first step to potty training is introducing your toddler to their potty chair. Let them sit on it while fully clothed just to see how it feels while you talk about what a potty chair is used for, but don’t force them to sit on it if they’re not ready. You want your child to feel comfortable about their potty chair, not scared of it. You could also try changing their diaper while on the potty, depositing their poop inside it. Many parents begin potty training by focusing on bowel movements only, especially once a pattern has been established with your child’s bowel movements. Once your child successfully poops in their potty chair several times, peeing in it more frequently during the day and night will come more naturally.
Be sure to stress the importance of handwashing every time your child uses the potty, whether they peed, pooped, or didn’t do anything but sit on it. Eventually, these healthy habits will stick in their memory. How long potty training will take also varies by child. Most children master daytime potty training long before they’re able to stay dry all night. Depending on when you begin, most children are fully potty trained before the age of five or six, which is also when they’re ready for school.
What Are Some Helpful Tips for Potty Training Boys?
Some child care experts believe it’s perfectly natural for boys to stay in diapers longer than girls. The reasoning behind this is boys may tend to be more active and rambunctious, making them less likely to take the time to use the potty. However, most experts believe potty training boys is not harder than potty training girls, despite what you may have heard. There’s no rush to begin potty training boys until they’re ready. Here are some tips for potty training boys more successfully:
- Teach Him to Sit First and Stand Later – Since many parents begin potty training with bowel movements, it makes sense to teach your son to use the potty while sitting first. Children often learn best by imitating others. Having a male role model (like Dad or an older brother) show him how to pee standing later will make for a smoother process. Peeing while standing also takes practice, so be prepared for some wet floors or toilet seats along the way. There are toilet targets you can buy to better your child’s aim.
- Recognize and Celebrate Triumphs – Accidents happen, so it’s important to let him know you’re not disappointed or angry when they do. Also remember to celebrate the triumphs, as positive reinforcement is essential to child development. Children need love and understanding.
- Start with Daytime Potty Training – Start potty training during the day before attempting any overnights. Many toddlers wear diapers or pull-ups at night during potty training before transitioning to wearing underwear full-time. Consider rewarding him with cool “big boy’s” underwear with a favorite cartoon or comic book character on them when it’s time.
What Are Some Helpful Tips for Potty Training Girls?
Ensure your daughter is ready to begin potty training, as training too early can lead to potty training regression. Some child care experts believe girls may be more receptive to starting the process, but not all experts agree that potty training girls is necessarily easier than potty training boys. Here are some tips for potty training girls more successfully:
- Let Her Watch and Learn – Because children often learn best through imitation, letting your toddler watch you go to the bathroom may be beneficial. Be prepared your daughter may have questions if she sees her father or older brother pee while standing. She may even attempt to pee while standing herself, but she’ll likely get the idea of why this doesn’t work over time. It’s also crucial to teach your daughter how to wipe correctly – front to back and not too roughly – after going to the bathroom each time to avoid future infections.
- Set Up a Training Schedule – Setting up a training schedule is important, whether potty training a girl or boy. Try to get your child to use the potty upon waking, after meals, and before bed to begin. Recognize that they may wear diapers or pull-ups at night for a long time before staying dry overnight.
- Recognize and Celebrate Triumphs – Accidents will happen during potty training. It’s crucial to show love and understanding, and not anger or disappointment when they do. Recognize and celebrate the triumphs, as positive reinforcement will go a long way in your child’s development. Reward her with “big girl’s” underwear with a favorite cartoon or movie character on them when the time is right.
Are There Any Times When Potty Training Should Be Delayed?
There are times when most child care experts would agree it’s best to put off potty training. If you’re about to move to a new home, you should delay until you’ve made the move. Your child may get confused about where the bathroom is located if you switch homes in the middle of the potty training process, resulting in more frequent accidents. Waiting until you move is also about establishing a comfort pattern with the bathroom they will be using the most.
It’s also not a good idea to begin potty training while also transitioning your child from sleeping in a crib to a bed or preparing for the birth of a new sibling. Too many transitional changes at once may not be the best for your child’s emotional and mental well-being. You want the potty training experience to feel exciting and positive, not uncertain or scary. We also recommend delaying if your child is sick, as you need them at their best when teaching them a new skill.
About Family-Owned Just Children Child Care Centers
Just Children Child Care Centers is a family-owned, state-licensed child care provider with locations throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We provide infant, pre-toddler, and toddler child care, as well as pre-school and kindergarten programs, summer camps, and before-and-after school care. Your child’s safety and well-being are paramount, so all of our state-of-the-art facilities are equipped with secure entry systems and playgrounds. If you’re interested in learning more about our programs, we encourage you to reach out and schedule a tour at the child care center closest to you. A tour will allow you to meet our staff and observe one of our classrooms before enrolling your child in our programs. You may also view our parent resources for more info about enrollment and tuition and other parenting tips.