Understanding the Potty Training Window

If you have a child approaching, or already of, potty training age, chances are you’ve read many articles about recognising the signs of readiness. These are certainly excellent reference points to help you understand what to look out for, when to encourage your child and when to step back but there is one downside.

With such a wealth of information and advice, it can sometimes be difficult not to get overwhelmed by it all. Many parents can get quite fixated on doing exactly what the experts say and risk putting undue pressure on the situation. Even though there is no specific “right time” for when a child is ready, as every individual is different, it can also be hard not to worry if your child has reached the “right” age and not yet shown the signs of potty training readiness. To help with this, Family Seat have produced a concise guide including formulating a plan.

Keep Calm and Carry On

While it’s of the utmost importance that everyone involved adopts a calm and measured approach to potty training, this also means staying aware of your child’s individual behaviours and habits to understand when they may be ready. We absolutely recommend adopting this role of casual yet vigilant observer, because of the “potty training window.”

This is usually the period between the ages of 20 and 30 months when your child is emotionally and physically mature and developed enough to begin potty training, but they haven’t yet gone past the point where it is easiest to complete the process.

Hitting the Sweet Spot

It will make everyone’s lives a lot easier if you manage to start training during this “sweet spot” time. According to Allison Jandu, founder of The Potty Training Consultant, children of this age are "more eager to please, less resistant to change, and wanting to mimic the adults around them which makes the process much easier.”

After this time, your toddler may be far more resistant to the process and you will be dealing with a double whammy in the form of both teaching/learning and behavioural challenges.

Observing your Child for Signs of Readiness

There are many ways that you can observe your child’s behaviour for signs of readiness without being overbearing or putting unnecessary pressure on the situation. You may start changing fewer nappies as your toddler stays drier for longer. He or she might exhibit signs of discomfort when they do have a dirty nappy, which shows enhanced levels of recognition about the process.

Your toddler may start to show signs of a routine with their bowel movements and wetting their nappy. He or she may also start verbally communicating when they need to use the toilet, or they may even just be more natural when it comes to discussing their toileting habits, such as using language associated with the process including “pee” “poo” and “potty.”

Take a Step Back

One way to understand the window and avoid getting too worried about the entire process is to take a step back. It sounds simple but potty training is just another developmental milestone and one that many children take to very naturally. It’s also important not to “wait until a good time” such as summer or school holidays if you think your child is ready.

Otherwise, you risk missing the window and making the whole process much lengthier and more difficult. Take a risk assessment as sometimes this cannot be avoided if, for example, you are on holiday, moving to a new house or have just welcomed another baby.

Don’t overthink it and don’t consider yourself a failed parent if your little one can’t get the hang of it immediately or at all. Learning new habits isn’t easy but that’s all potty training is. Persistence and patience are essential, as well as understanding that your child may struggle getting the hang of it.

The Question of Nighttime Potty Training

Another of the most common questions we are asked is when to start night training. The physical capabilities of your child are very different with regards to staying dry during the day and staying dry at night, so many parents find that starting night time training six months later than daytime is the most effective. While this is a ballpark figure, we would generally recommend training for day and night separately to avoid overwhelming your child as well as ensure that they are fully ready for this part of the process.

The Family Seat Progress Chart and Door Hanger are a great way to set up a rewards-based system for potty training. Every Family Seat comes complete with these potty-training essentials as well as a 10-Year Guarantee. We have also created a comprehensive potty training guide that is free to access through our website, click here to read the guide including a range of expert tips and answers to common potty-training problems.

Family Seat supports the children’s communication charity I CAN, who are experts in helping children to develop the language, speech and communication skills that they need to thrive in our 21st-century world. We donate 50p to I CAN on each and every seat purchased through the official Family Seat website.