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Is There A Right Time For Potty Training?

Using a potty is a brand new skill for your child to learn and, as with any learning process, there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. Before you even think about attempting to potty train your toddler just read these few facts.

  1. A child under the age of two cannot completely control when they need to go. The muscles that control their bladder and rectum are simply not mature enough.
  2. Most children can control their bowels before their bladder.
  3. By expecting a child to be dry and clean early you are expecting them to:

a. Know when they need to use the potty.
b. Know how to use the potty.
c. Remember to wait until they get to the potty.
d. Know how to remove the relevant clothes.
e. Learn how to wipe and dry the relevant body parts.


When you read all of the above you will realise exactly what a big task you are expecting a young child to master and this is why there is no ‘right’ time to begin potty training. In fact, most children cannot truly master all of these tasks until they are between three years or four years of years and this is regardless of when you start potty training, or how you go about it!

In reality, the best time to proceed is to wait until your child shows signs that they want to use a potty. Even when they do indicate that they are ready you are still likely to have some ups and downs. Rather than becoming stressed over the whole process remember:


  • Starting too early will result in accidents, frustration and sometimes even make your child fearful of a natural bodily function. You should never force your child to use a potty if they don’t want to and are clearly not ready to start.
  • Children are able to control their bladder and bowels when they’re physically ready and when they want to be dry and clean. Children are not physically and emotionally ready to start using a potty until they reach around 18 months.
  • Boys tend to be slower in this area than girls and may become keen to learn months later than similarly aged girls.
  • There is no official age and you don’t have to potty train your toddler at all if you don’t want to.
  • You should only proceed at your child’s pace and avoid getting too stressed if they seem like they are taking a long time to get the hang of it. Patience is the key.
  • By leaving it until your child is slightly older you may find that they copy others without needing any instructions. As long as you make it clear to them what they have to do and where it should be done they could well manage perfectly well without too much intervention.
  • Some parents do, inevitably, start potty training when their babies are very young. This is done by watching for signs of an imminent wee or poo and catching it in the potty. This method is called elimination communication. However, this is not recommended by all health professionals.
  • The main thing to remember is that every child is different. Avoid comparing your child with others because you could end up feeling deflated when your friends boast about their child’s potty proficiency. Every child develops at their own rate and you will get there!

July 9, 2018

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