Ask Joanne - How Do I Know If My Child Is Ready For Potty Training?

17/08/2010 16:16 | Updated 22 May 2015

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Nicky asks:

How do you know when your child is ready to be potty trained?

My 18 month old is very independent and hates having her nappy changed now that she'd rather be running about. Does this mean she is ready for training and if not what are the signs?

Here's life coach Joanne's reply:

Dear Nicky

The age at which a toddler is ready for potty training varies a lot from child to child, but it most often starts around two years old. So whilst 18 months is on the young side, it's not unheard of. Girls are often ready earlier than boys. The important thing is to look to the child for clues that they're ready, rather than linking it to any particular age:

  • Can she tell you if she's filled her nappy? Does she notice if she's wet or dirty?
  • Does the nappy stay dry for around 2 or 3 hours at a time? This indicates developing bladder control.
  • Can she sit up on a potty or toilet unaided? (You can get special toilet trainer seats for tiny bums)
  • Has she got enough hand control to get undressed for the loo? (pulling down elasticated waists etc - buttons and zips can come later)

Even if she's not quite ready yet, there's no harm in getting a couple of potties and pairs of knickers and keeping them around the house for her to use if she wants to. Get some pants in her favourite character, as she may then focus on keeping Dora the Explorer dry.

One thing I found from my own children, the later I left it, the quicker they were to become dry in the daytime. I tried to get my daughter started early, and the accidents went on for months. With my son, I waited until he was very keen to get rid of nappies, and the whole process was done and dusted in two days. I do think that psychology plays as big a part as the physical in potty training, so if your child really wants to go for it, you're probably halfway there already. And if you need a bit more assistance, rewards can help too.

Best wishes


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