Signs a Child is Ready for Potty Training

If you’re the parent of a toddler, the good news is, your diaper days will soon be over. The bad news is, it won’t happen overnight.

Sometime after the age of two, children will start to show signs that they’re ready for toilet learning. And while this is a happy moment for the diaper weary parent, be prepared. Toilet learning doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and lots of it says Ruth McCamus, past Family Clinic Supervisor at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. “We don’t really expect kids to learn the whole toilet training process until they are about four, so if you start when they are at two and a half, it may take about a year and a half before they are comfortable with the process.”

McCamus says the best way to begin is by putting out the potty, and simply encouraging your child to try it. If you’re child isn’t ready to learn now, then “you should stop and not force them (to toilet train), but wait a little later for another point in time.”

Once a child has learned to remain dry and diaper-less during the day, most parents expect nighttime dryness to follow shortly thereafter. However, many three and four year olds don’t remain dry at night until long after they’ve managed daytime toilet learning. So what can you do to help nighttime training? Not much because “night-time training doesn’t exist.” says McCamus. “You really cannot train a child to be dry at night. Night time dryness depends on the maturity of the child’s bladder, the ability of the bladder to hold the urine, and also to concentrate the urine so that there will not be as much urine in the bladder overnight.”

McCamus does add that there are certain signs that your child may be ready to sleep without a diaper. “The way you know if he’s getting there is when you find him dry in the morning. If you want him to be dry at night, you should make it a habit that as soon as you are aware your child is awake in the morning, to rush to him and get him into the bathroom to see if those diapers are wet. Now, if every morning the diapers are soaking, there’s no way that child is going to be dry at night for some time yet, but if you find one or two mornings a week that he’s dry when you go to get him, that’s a marvelous sign and probably within a few months’ time, or maybe longer, he may start to be dry at night.”

Finally, if you’re concerned that your toddler is a bed wetter, don’t be. Bedwetting isn’t considered an issue until at least six years of age.


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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