7 Signs Your Child Is Ready For Potty Training

empty potty

“I like to think of potty training in terms of capable rather than ready,” Jenny Phelps, a Certified Potty Trainer and owner of Oh Crap! Potty Training with Jenny explains. “Ready is really fuzzy. It’s hard to know if anyone’s ever really ready for anything ever.” She laughs comparing it to her decision to have a baby—she was perfectly capable, but she may not ever have really ever feel 100% ready.

And feeling unsure about your child’s readiness may make you wait (and wait… ). Don’t wait too long though! Jenny explains that a child’s interest in the potty typically peaks, then declines. So you ideally want to potty train, while they’re still really interested in the potty. She also cautions that as kids approach three-years-old (the dreaded “threenager”), they develop strong individuation, and potty training can become much more difficult.

So how do you know when you can get started? Here are 7 clues suggesting your child is ready for potty training (oops, I mean capable):

  1. Is your child between 20 and 30 months old? This is the ideal (re: easiest) age range for potty training. By 20-months-old, they’ve mastered walking, they’re capable, and they’ve hopefully worked through some separation anxiety and limit-setting. Likewise, if you potty train before 30-months-old, you can hopefully catch them before they become a more stubborn threenager.
  2. Can you tell when your child is going in their diaper? If so, then try to watch closely to see if you can learn their cues indicating that they need to go. That will help you know when to move them to a potty, once you start potty training.
  3. Can they tell? If they can tell that they’re going, chances are they’ve started to also recognize when they need to go.
  4. Do they retreat to corner or special place to poop? Not all kids will do this, but if they do, it’s an indication that they’re recognizing the feeling of needing to poo and acting on it. If they can do this, they’re capable of getting their poop into the potty instead.
  5. Do they ask for their diaper to be changed after its soiled? This means they understand that they’ve gone to the bathroom, which suggests they can also understand where to go to the bathroom.
  6. Do they show an interest in the potty? A lot of parents expect kids’ interest to keep increasing over time. In reality though, usually interest peaks then starts to fade away. An interest in the potty is an indication that they’re in the window of time where potty training is easiest.
  7. Does your child tell you they’re thirsty or hungry? If so, they’re recognizing a physical sensation (similar to recognizing the need to pee) and acting on it (like using the potty).

You may not ever see all of these happen, but if you see a couple of these signs, then Jenny suggests that means you’re getting into the timeframe where you may want to start thinking about potty training.

Ack, then what!? If you’re looking for tips on how to potty train, check out 4 Steps To Ditching Diapers: Tips from a Certified Potty Trainer.

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For more info on when to potty train your child, check out this Mama Lovejoy video interview with Jenny Phelps (this article was based on this interview).

or check out these related videos:

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