Advice for getting ready to potty train
Moving from nappies to grown-up pants is an exciting transition, but it can be hard to know when – and how – to start. Here’s some advice for preparing your toddler for potty training.
At a glance
- There's no magic moment for toddlers to be ready
- Their little muscles don't develop until around 18 months
- Introduce potty training gradually to avoid stage fright!
If your little one is aged between one and two, the answer to the question ‘Are they ready for potty training?’ is - maybe, but probably not quite yet.
There’s no one magic moment for toddlers to be ready: they’re all different and it’s a case of looking out for the key signs below. However, it’s worth noting that the muscles controlling their bladder and rectum aren’t usually mature enough for potty training until they are at least 18 months old.
Signs to look for:
- Your toddler is having a poo at predictable times and they know they’re doing it – perhaps they hide behind the sofa or the door
- They may tell you they’ve done a poo or wee
- You’re getting the occasional dry nappy, showing they can go a couple of hours without a wee
- They can understand simple phrases like ‘where’s the potty?’ and they have words for wee and poo
- They’re interested in bodily functions – theirs and yours
- They are receptive to praise and keen to please you
- They don’t like wearing a dirty or wet nappy and come to you to change it
You may not see all these signs, but if you are noticing most, then your toddler may be ready. Don’t feel pressured by relatives or friends urging you on or telling you tales of how their toddler was dry at 18 months (they probably weren't).
Go with your own instinct: most parents go for it around two to two and a half for girls and two and a half to three for boys. If they’re up for it, the chances are it will go smoothly. But even if they – or you – are not quite ready, you can still prepare them for the transition to big boy/big girl pants. This preparation is an important part of the process: presenting your two and a half year-old with a potty out of the blue one day and expecting them to be dry in a week or two is a big, big ask.
Spend a few weeks or a couple of months getting your toddler into the groove – gently, though. You don’t want to set up a battle of wills before you even start.
You can also see more about your toddler's development with our milestones chart.