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How do I know when my child is ready to start potty training?

For many parents, the potty training process is a daunting prospect and knowing when to begin is one of the most important factors. There are no strict rules for when a child will be ready to learn bladder and bowel control - the majority of children start potty training between two and three years old although some will be ready from 18 months.

If you start potty training too early, then your child will probably have a lot of accidents. This will impact on their confidence, slow down the process and be stressful for all involved. But don’t panic! It’s easier than you might think to recognise when your child is ready and it can make all the difference between a straightforward and a stressful process.

Signs of readiness

They will:

  • Be aware when their nappy is dirty or wet; they may appear uncomfortable and express a desire to be clean and dry
  • Show an interest in using the potty and in other peoples’ bathroom habits – perhaps they follow mum, dad or their older siblings to the toilet
  • Tell you when they have had a wee or poo
  • Be dry after a nap
  • Have a longer time between wetting their nappy (usually around two hours)
  • Experience regular, predictable bowel movements, often directly after a meal
  • Make it obvious from their expression or habits, such as fidgeting or concentrating, that they are about to or have just had a wee/poo
  • Ask to wear ‘adult’ underwear
  • Ask to use the potty

When your child recognises the need to go, lets you know and holds it until they are on the potty, then you’re good to go!

Toilet humour

It’s useful for parents to remember that the process is a physical and emotional one, meaning that your child needs to have gained a certain level of maturity and self-control before it begins. This means they will be able to follow simple instructions and understand the basics of the process, making it easier for all involved.

A bit of toilet humour can also work wonders! Try to keep the process as relaxed as possible - the Family Seat and our potty training tools will guide both parent and child in making the learning curve as stress-free and fun as can be.

Our team have experienced potty training with a total of five children so we are fully aware of how tricky it can be at the start. It’s important to soldier on, as the key is in the word ‘training’ and your child will eventually be able to master skills such as undressing themselves for the toilet, flushing, wiping their bottom and getting off the potty at the right time.

Keep calm and carry on

Always remember that accidents will happen and it doesn’t mean that your child is not ready. Don’t make a fuss - just clear it up, carry on, and remember to encourage them when they are successful. Most children will be dry during the day by the age of three but a few accidents during the night are fairly common up until the age of five.

Make sure to start the process when there is minimum upheaval in your child’s life (no new siblings, holidays or house moves) and when you have enough time on your hands to keep it consistent. Anything that makes the process more familiar and less daunting will also make things easier. Some parents like to carry the potty around with them and take it round to the grandparents’ house to encourage the child to take an interest. Others will allow their children to play naked in the house so there is nowhere to physically put their wee/poo when they need to go.

Follow the leader

Above all, follow your child’s lead. Every parent knows their own child the best and some little ones will make it clear when they are ready without exhibiting any of the usual signs. By choosing to start the process at the right time, your child will feel in control of the situation and (ideally) pick up the habit quickly. This tallies with a growing sense of independence – another sign that they are ready to leave their nappies behind.

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