Embarking on the journey of potty training your child can feel like a daunting task for many parents. It’s a significant developmental stage that comes with its own unique challenges and triumphs. As you find yourself navigating through this new territory, it’s perfectly normal to feel a mix of excitement, concern and frustration. However, reframing your mindset to move away from thinking about the process  of “potty training” and viewing it as “potty readiness” is a good place to start.  

One day, your child may proudly proclaim their need to use the toilet, while on another, they might be more interested in dismantling their diaper – a classic sign of potty readiness. While these experiences can be nerve-wracking, it’s important to remember that these are all part of the process. You are not alone in this, and thankfully, there are plenty of resources, strategies, and advice available to make this journey smoother and more manageable.

Average Potty Training/Readiness Age

When it comes to potty readiness (potty training or toilet training), it’s essential to bear in mind that there isn’t a set ‘right’ age for all children. The average age usually falls somewhere between 18 months and 3 years old. However, each child is a unique individual with their own pace of development. Some children might display signs of readiness earlier, while others might take a little longer. The key is not to rush the process but to keep an eye out for signs that your child is ready to start potty training. This could range from longer periods of a dry diaper, expressing discomfort when the diaper is soiled, or showing curiosity about the toilet or the potty readiness process itself.

Potty Training/Readiness: Boys vs. Girls

While potty readiness is a universal process, the journey can differ slightly between boys and girls. There’s a common belief that potty training boys can be a bit more challenging than girls, although this is not always the case.

Boys often show readiness to use the toilet on their own slightly later than girls, with many starting around the age of three. One helpful strategy for potty training boys can be using role models, such as their fathers or older brothers. This can motivate them and provide a practical demonstration of how to use the toilet correctly. The signs of readiness in boys often include showing an interest in the toilet, staying dry for more extended periods, and starting to communicate about their need to go.

On the other hand, girls often show signs of readiness for using the toilet on their own slightly earlier than boys, with many starting around the age of two. This earlier start doesn’t necessarily mean the process is easier, but it might be a bit quicker. The readiness signs in girls include showing interest in the toilet, demonstrating a desire for independence, and beginning to communicate about their need to go. It’s also common for girls to show an interest in imitating their mothers or older sisters, which can be a helpful tool during potty training.

Potty Training/Readiness Tips

Potty training is a process, and it can take some time before your child is ready and fully comfortable using the toilet. Here are some high-level tips to help you navigate this journey:

    1. Look for readiness signs: Before starting potty training, ensure your child is showing signs of readiness. This could include staying dry for longer periods, showing interest in the toilet, and starting to communicate about their need to go.
    2. Patience is key: Remember that each child is unique and will reach this milestone at their own pace. Try to avoid comparing your child’s progress with others and rushing the process.
    3. Consistency is important: Maintaining a routine helps your child understand what is expected of them. It can be helpful to set regular toilet times during the day, such as after meals or before bed.
    4. Practice Elimination Communication: This method involves parents learning to recognize and respond to their child’s cues for elimination. It promotes early communication about their bodily functions, which can potentially make the transition from diapers to the toilet smoother.
    5. Encourage and reward: Positive reinforcement can work wonders during potty training. Celebrate your child’s successes with praise, high fives, or small rewards to make the process more enjoyable and motivating for them.
    6. Equip them with the right tools: Consider getting a child-friendly potty or a toilet seat adapter to make the process easier for your child. Also, easy-to-pull-down pants can help them when they start to go to the toilet independently.
    7. Prepare for setbacks: Accidents are a normal part of the potty training process. Try not to express frustration or disappointment, but instead reassure your child that it’s okay and part of the learning process.

Remember, as a parent, your patience, understanding, and support during this process are vital. Potty training/readiness is a significant transition, and it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed at times. It’s essential to remember that each child is unique, and progress will vary greatly. There is no “right” timeline, it’s about your child becoming ready. 

In this context, it’s also critical to acknowledge that access to diapers is a significant need for many families, and diaper need can significantly impact a family’s quality of life. In fact, new research by the National Diaper Bank Network reports that nearly half of U.S. families with young children struggle to afford diapers.  It’s an often-overlooked issue that many families face. To learn more about diaper need and how it impacts families, visit the our diaper need information page here.

If you’re in a position to help, consider contributing to the effort to end diaper need. There are several ways you can make a difference, from making a monetary donation to organizing a community diaper drive. Learn more about how you can get involved.

If you’re a parent in need of diaper assistance, there are resources available to help. The National Diaper Bank Network provides a directory of local diaper banks that offer help to families in need. Click here to find a diaper bank near you.