When to start potty training

A complete, sensible review of age, readiness and timing factors


* When to start potty training? * What is the right age? * Is my child ready to potty train?

We all go through the same concerns, pretty much. Especially with the first child, where we might be less certain and more vulnerable.

Parents today are faced with many options; Do we take the 'infant toilet training' approach? Do we start small, putting the child on the toilet (or potty) for a few minutes, during scheduled hours each day? Do we go along with standard medical recommendations concerning age? Do we sit and wait patiently until our child expresses interest in potty training?

Much of this is dependent on cultural norms, and on what we see and hear around us.

Being a sensible parent, you know there is no “one correct answer”, and you may wonder -- what would be the right answer for my child, and myself?

when to start potty training

Since the question of when to start potty training is combining several aspects, I like looking at each one separately:

  • Potty training age

  • Child’s readiness to potty training

  • Timing/Schedule: Setting the date

  • And possibly the most important -– Your own readiness! (or: Parent readiness)

This When to Start Potty Training Page is addressing those issues, and is also looking at:

  • Early training: Leading vs. Waiting
  • Late training: Are there implications?

Potty Training Age

Potty training age varies among different cultures, and has also changed a lot in the last 50 years.

//Click here for the full review of potty training age topic.//

Child's Readiness

Child's readiness is a "hot" subject. Many doctors and How-To authors are stressing how important it is to make sure the child is ready for potty training, before starting. These guidelines go hand in hand with the Child-Oriented training approach recommended by Brazelton in the 60's, and widely adopted since then by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Other Professionals stress the importance of Parenting management (actually: leadership) in toilet training, and are basically saying that children are ready, they simply need their parents' guidance and to understand what is expected of them in the context of toileting education. (Those professionals seem to come from the arena of psychology, education and child development.)

Click here for a discussion about Child's readiness to toilet training, based on readiness guidelines recommended by doctors.


Am I Ready? -- Parent's Readiness

One major lesson I learned from potty training my kids, was that once I was ready (I’ll describe what I mean by that), my kids also were.

I realized, I didn't need to sit and wait for them to become ready; and more importantly, that it was my job to decide when to start potty training. Why would I want to put this much responsibility on my child?

There are various approaches about when to start potty training, but the one concept that in my opinion should always guide parents is -- let it be your decision, not the child's. Don't ask them if they would care to potty train, don't consult with them about it. (I've seen a few articles leaning in this direction)

When you think about it, there are many things we decide for our kids at this age, simply because we’re the parents and it’s our job.

We make a lot of decisions regarding their health and education; We mostly decide what food they eat (I know I do); how often they bathe; what kind of DVD’s we let them watch; bedtime hours, and more.

When we think that something is important enough, we set the rules for them -- and we make it happen.

Potty training is simply an educational process; When to begin potty training is something for parents to decide about. Additionally, toilet training brings major value to toddlers, and their development. For me, knowing that made it easier to "call the shots".

If you like, check out this article about the benefits of potty training and why it's not necessary to wait.

For me, once I finally got it, taking care of my own readiness has been the key point. It is a state-of-mind kind of readiness.

Here are a few simple guidelines to help you establish self-readiness and confidence in regard to potty training your child.


Schedule: The Right Timing...

Another aspect of when to potty train is choosing the timing.

One question that concerned me and my girlfriends was: should I start potty training my toddler while expecting a new baby, or during the first few months after having the new baby?

Some people will tell you not to potty train during that period, as you might face regression and other problems.

That may happen, but actually - there are many changes in our environment, constantly affecting our kids, challenging the entire family sometimes. Regression may happen anyway, and it’s entirely in our hands to manage it. Visit our //potty training regression page// for information and tips about this subject.

If your toddler has a baby brother or sister, or is about to have one, you may want to read this //personal story about potty training 1st born toddler shortly after new baby arrives//.

While there may not be such a thing as the “perfect timing" for potty training, there are a few points worth considering, which can help you pick the time that best fits your reality.

Click here to find Six points to think about before starting potty training.


Concluding: When to Start Potty Training?

Choosing when to start potty training, eventually all boils down to a certain state of mind.

I'd say, start potty training when:

  • You've determind in your mind that now is the time

  • You’re motivated and feeling positive about it

  • You trust yourself and your spouse to lead your child firmly through this process

  • You're in it for the long run, and are ready to deal with challenges that may come along your way

  • You've set up the basic plan for how you are going to potty train and you have a good understanding of your attitude and approach

Then all that’s left is to pick a starting date.

What if you’re still not sure when to start potty training?

Prefer to wait? Wonder if there is such thing as waiting too long to start potty training?

To get some insights on potty training an older child, you may want to read this article about late training and the possible concerns involved.


Where Do You Want to Go Next?

Want to read about //How to Potty Train//?

...Or to read some //encouraging Potty Training stories//?



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