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Is your toddler ready for toilet training?

A toddler playing with toilet paper instead of sitting on the potty during toilet trainingToilet training can be frustrating. Extremely frustrating. SO SO SO frustrating. Can you tell that toilet training was frustrating for me?

It can really test your patience as a parent so it is important that you time it right. If you start toilet training too early you may be making life harder than it needs to be – for your child and for yourself.

But just like every developmental milestone, all babies and toddlers are different. So how do you know if your child is ready to start toilet training?

Is your toddler ready for toilet training?

What age to toilet train?

Most children won’t be ready to start toilet training until they are at least two years old. Many will be closer to three. And generally girls are ready to toilet train earlier than boys are ready to toilet train.

And don’t be tricked into thinking that the earlier you start, then the earlier you will finish – as it just might make the process more drawn out (and more frustrating). It is better to wait until they are ready.

Are they physically and emotionally ready?

There are a few developmental milestones that need to be reached before you can consider toilet training a child and there are also a few things your child will start to do to indicate they are ready.

They’ve got to be both physically ready (can climb onto the toilet seat, pull down their pants, communicate well etc) and emotionally ready (they want to use the toilet, talk about being a ‘big boy’ etc).

Signs your toddler is ready for toilet training

  • He tells you when he is about to do (or has already done) a poo or pee
  • He is uncomfortable wearing a wet or soiled nappy
  • He pulls at his nappy
  • He is interested in the toilet habits of others
  • He is able to follow simple instructions
  • He is physically capable of using the toilet himself (can walk to the bathroom and climb onto the toilet or potty)
  • He takes some pride in accomplishment
  • He understands the words used in toilet training and can convey them to you
  • He can pull down and pull up his own pants
READ: If your toddler is ready the next step is picking the best time start toilet training


For more info, great free printable charts, and access to the forum to chat about your experiences, check out our Toilet Training Hub.

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6 Comments so far -
  • Michelle says:

    My 7 year old , autistic granddaughter is not potty trained, she is so afraid, when we try to put her on the potty, she stiffens her legs together, and fights it, any suggestions will help, tyia.

    • Hi Michelle, Thanks for reading and thanks for your question. It’s sounds like your granddaughter is quite afraid. You didn’t say whether this happens just for bowel movements or whether she’s also scared to pee in the toilet.

      I hope you don’t mind if I share my story with you … My son became constipated when he was a baby and from then on he became scared each time he felt the urge to go to the toilet. He was very difficult to toilet train and would do what you’re describing your granddaughter is doing — stiffen his body and hold his legs together. Sometimes this would cause him to become constipated again – which reinforced his fear! We ended up using a variety of methods. First though we had to help him overcome the fear and we talked to a chemist about a liquid stool softener that also contained paraffin oil. This helped lubricate the bowel (as well as soften the stool slightly) so that it was hard for him to hold in. Gradually (I’m not going to lie, it was a long process) he learned that it wasn’t going to hurt him and his fear began to subside. We also used a variety of rewards for going to the toilet and made a bit deal of any progress, however small.

      I thought I’d share that story in case you could see any similarities with your granddaughter’s behaviour. But I’m sure there are many other people who could offer more advice on our forum. Our parenting forum is free to join and anonymous. You might want to ask your question there to connect to others who have been in your situation.

      There’s a specific forum for support with children with special needs. You’ll find some wise and supportive people there. https://www.bubhub.com.au/community/forums/forumdisplay.php?46-Parents-of-Children-with-Special-Needs

      I hope you can get some answers. Take care x

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  • Becc Bailey says:

    Hi mums and dads! I’ve been thinking for a while now about when to start toilet training (my daughter is 21 months) and I just stumbled upon the list above. All the signs listed my daughter has been displaying for quite a few months now, bar the last one – can pull up and down own pants. Also, she does tell me when she wees or poohs after she has done so but maybe about 8/10 times. Anyway! I was just looking for some people’s advice/opinions on whether or not they would suggest she is ready or not for the potty/toilet or if maybe I should leave it a few more months?

    Thanks guys! Sorry about the rambling

  • Blossom says:

    We started toilet training about 6 weeks after he started pulling at his nappy just on 25 months.
    He doesn’t like potty but likes his “special seat” on the toilet. We didn’t have any success for about a week but have only had a few accidents since he got the gist of it. He now tells us “wee wees” and makes sure we hear him if we don’t repsond immediately then runs towards the toilet. We pull his pants part way down and sit him on the toilet then he lways kicks them off completely. No success with the other yet so we are getting messy undies.
    When we use pull-ups he knows it is sleep time or we are going a long distance in the car – he usually goes to sleep then anyway.

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