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A Complete Guide to Potty Training a Toddler

Getting Ready to Use the Toilet (part 1)

Are you anxious to teach your child to use the toilet? This is an important stage of development that every child will reach, but at different ages and at different rates. The key to potty train a child is not to put pressure on your toddler before he or she is ready - this only makes the entire process longer, more difficult, and more frustrating for you and your child. On the other hand, potty training can become a very positive experience for your toddler where he or she can feel good about mastering an important new skill, and developing a little bit more independence.

As this is an important step for your child's development, it can often lead to some confusion and you may wonder:

    1. When should I start?
    2. When do most other parents start with their kids?
    3. What's best way to go about potty training my child?

Our goal here is to provide answers to some of those questions. We potty trained all of our children at around 2 to 2.5 years of age. We will share with you some of our ideas, tips, and experiences. So...

When Do You Start Potty Training?

The first thing is to determine whether your little one is ready for toilet training. While the "normal", or average potty training age might be around 18 months to 3 years of age, there are children who are toilet trained much earlier and others much later. Below is a general time frame for children to develop toilet skills:

  • 16 months - child may point to wet clothing.
  • 20 months - child may "go" in the potty.
  • 2 to 2.5 years - toddler may be able to tell you that he or she needs to use the toilet.
  • 3 to 4 years - child has better bladder control and is able to wait and also use the toilet alone.

Please keep in mind that each child is unique, so you'll need to pay close attention to your child and the following considerations will help you determine if your toddler is ready:

  • Your child can sit and walk well on their own, and they are able to follow simply directions and communicate basic needs.
  • Does your child stay dry for several hours at a time? This shows the toddler has better bladder control.
  • Look for indications or signs showing that your child is aware of when he or she needs to go pee or poo. Some common signs parents might notice is that their toddler might go find a corner or a "favorite" spot to squat down (or strike a "funny" pose) to make a bowel movement.
  • Your toddler asks to use the "big potty" like daddy and mommy, or wants to be a "big kid".

Night Time Potty Training

Toilet training for night time is quite a bit different than regular day trips to the washroom, and this is something that comes a bit later after your child masters daytime toilet use. There will be times when your child wets his or her bed, but don't be concerned as most younger children will still urinate during their sleep. Just because your child has good bladder control when he or she is awake does not mean he or she is able to do the same when sleeping. Here are some basic signs that your toddler might be ready for nighttime potty training:

  • your child wakes up at night because he or she needs to use the bathroom
  • if you find that your child is able to remain "dry" during most nights


  • talk to your toddler about using the bathroom at night - let them know to wake you up if they need to go pee
  • put a water proof protector over your mattress
  • take your child to use the bathroom just before sleeping
  • keep on using diapers until your child is dry during most nights
  • have a night light on so that your child can see during the night should he or she wake up to go pee

Don't Do's

  • don't pressure your child
  • don't punish, criticize, or humiliate your child for wetting his or her bed
  • don't make your child lie in the wet sheets as punishment
  • don't deprive your child of liquids just so he or she can stay "dry" at night - you can give them plenty of liquids during the day and slightly reduce it in late evening


Continue to Part 2 here >>

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