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Our Favourite Ways to Tell if Your Child is Ready for Potty Training

Most parents in the UK start potty training when their children are between two and three years old. But there's no official age, and there is certainly no need to rush it


As with all children's milestones, each child is different. There is no long term benefit to having a potty prodigy. Boys, as with most developmental changes, tend to be ready a few months later than girls.

We teamed up with Kath Sloggett from The Neo Practice to give you a few pointers to help you know when your child is ready start potty training. Kath advises parents to "always go with your toddler's readiness, although you can help them along by making them feel comfortable with the concept of using a toilet by demonstrating it yourself, and by talking and acting positively about it."

Potty training tips for parents

Your child may copy others without needing any instructions, as long as you make it clear what they should do, and where to do it.

Some parents start toilet training (elimination training) when their babies are younger than four months. This is common in other countries and is done by watching for signs of an imminent wee or poo and catching it in the potty or sink. Some health experts believe elimination training can lead to problems later on, others say that there is no evidence to support this.

One thing to remember is that, no matter when or how you train, your child will be less competent than an adult for some time.

The Neo Practice's Top Tips on Potty Training

Most fully trained children aren't ready to go to the toilet unattended until 3 or 4 years old - especially when you consider a fully-independent toilet visit requires removing clothing and wiping bottoms and other quite advanced skills for small children to master.

The Neo Practice's top potty training tips

Is your child ready for potty training?

Your child may be ready to start trying to use the toilet if she:

  • Stays dry for a couple of hours each day
  • Takes an interest when you or your partner go to the toilet
  • Has bowel movements at regular times of the day, say, after breakfast
  • Shows an interest in wee on the floor if doesn't have a nappy on
  • Can demonstrate when a bowel movement is taking place, perhaps by squatting or making a grunting sound, or by standing still with a look of concentration
  • Lets you know she wants to be changed when his nappy is soiled - he may pull at his nappy or lie down in the "change me now" position.

When to wait before starting potty training

It's usually best not to start toilet training your child during times of stress:

  • When your child is unwell
  • When starting a new childcare arrangement
  • When moving from a cot to a bed
  • When moving house
  • When there are family relationship problems
  • When a family member is ill
  • Around the time of the arrival of a new baby in the family.

It is usually best to start potty training several months before or after the new baby arrives. Also be aware that older children often regress around the time of the new baby's arrival. Your recently potty trained toddler may have more accidents or demand to wear a nappy.

Remember, potty training is not something you can teach in a day - it may take weeks or months, with minor relapses if your child becomes troubled or ill. Expect it to take a while and expect a lot of accidents. You may be lucky though - your toddler may step out of nappies within a couple of weeks, or even within one week, and never look back.

More potty training tips

How to know when your child is ready for potty training

Read the second articles in this 2 Part Potty Training Tips series:

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