What Is Normal
It can be hard to know when to start toilet training. In general, a child must be both physically and emotionally ready before Reference toilet training Opens New Window can be successful.
Children go through a Reference toilet readiness phase that won't be the same for every child. Watch for physical and emotional signs that your child is ready to toilet train. Things going on in your family affect your child during this phase. It is not advised to toilet train during a time of family change, such as when there’s a move, a new baby, or divorce.
When your child is ready to toilet train, the learning phase can begin. During this time, provide opportunities to toilet train and encourage your child.
A child is physically capable of being toilet-trained when he or she develops muscle control over the bowel and bladder. This rarely happens before 18 months of age.
Some basic signs that your child has bowel and bladder control include the following:
- Bowel movements occur on a regular, somewhat predictable schedule.
- Bowel movements do not occur during the night.
- Diapers frequently are dry after waking from a nap or for at least 2 hours at a time.
- Facial expressions, grunting, or squatting show an awareness that he or she is passing urine or stool.
Your child must also be able to climb and remove clothing. And he or she must be able to talk enough to communicate with you about the need to use the toilet.
Your child may be physically ready to toilet train after 18 months of age. But emotional readiness may take more time. Your child must want to use the toilet. And he or she must be willing to cooperate with you during the toilet-training process. For example, training typically does not go well if your child is in the stage where "no" is his or her automatic response to every request.
Your child shows emotional readiness for toilet training in several ways. He or she may:
- Tell you when his or her diaper is dirty and ask to have it changed.
- Be eager to please and able to follow simple directions.
- Tell you that he or she wants to use the toilet or wear underwear instead of diapers.
- Like to be neat and tidy. Many children go through a period where they like being clean and organized.
- Act interested when other family members use the bathroom.
Be careful of getting too excited about your child's readiness after he or she shows one or two of these signs. A child may be excited about using the potty, only to lose interest very quickly.
Delays in toilet training
It is normal for your child to be doing well with toilet training and to suddenly begin having problems. For example, he or she may try to "hold it" for long periods or want to wear diapers again. This does not mean your efforts have failed. But it does mean that you need to ease up on the training for a little while.
Stress in the home can interfere with a child's toilet training. For example, toilet-training setbacks can be related to the arrival of a new baby, a move, a change in preschool or child care, family conflict, or illness or death of a close family member.
A child's toilet habits may also be affected if he or she gets an illness, especially one that has a long recovery time.
Sometimes your child will not cooperate for no good reason that you can determine.
Resist pressure from friends or family to toilet train your child too early. Parents often feel that their child should be trained by a specific age or to meet a deadline, such as for a requirement to enroll in a particular day care. You and your child are less likely to become frustrated and have a good experience with toilet training if it is not forced. Staying positive and relaxed is an important part of training your child.
Negative reactions typically do not help. Children need frequent praise throughout the entire process of toilet training.
You will know your child is toilet-trained when he or she regularly anticipates the need to go to the bathroom and with little help is able to climb onto and use the Reference type of toilet (potty) you provide. This process takes time, from weeks to months. Each child is different. But most children are successfully trained around age 3 or shortly thereafter (girls are typically trained a few months earlier than boys). Your child may still need help now and then, such as with wiping, until age 4 or 5. He or she may also need help and reassurance when using a toilet in an unfamiliar bathroom, such as in a public restroom, until about age 5 or 6.
Most toilet-trained children sometimes wet or soil their pants during the day, usually because they get distracted. For example, your child may ignore the need to go to the bathroom because he or she does not want to interrupt playtime. These accidents may occur until your child is 5 years old. Stress can also cause a child to revert to wetting his or her pants.
Most children sometimes wet the bed at night until about 12 months after they use the toilet during the day. Many 3-year-olds wet the bed at night at least once a month. Nighttime bed-wetting may even occur sporadically into school age.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference March 24, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Reference Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics