Potty training: The starting age for your child

By Drum Digital
23 July 2013

Is there a magic age for potty training that guarantees an easy transformation from nappies to underwear? We take a look…

Potty training can take up to a year, or as little as three days – depending on your timing. It is tempting to get your baby off the nappies as early as possible, but the process needs to be easy and comfortable for everyone involved. Here are a few things to consider that will help you choose the perfect age for potty training.

The average age for potty training

Experts seem divided on the best age for potty training – which isn’t much help at all! Popular advice dictates to wait until the summer after your baby turns three, but many toddlers are potty trained while they are two. It all depends on your child.

Age vs readiness

Research suggest that age has very little to do with potty training, in fact. The more important consideration is readiness. It is possible that your child is ready to potty train from the age of twelve months, or only by the age of four.

The starting age for your child

You will have the most success with potty training if you start at an age when your child is showing signs of readiness. This includes emotional and physical readiness. Emotionally, they need to be independent and motivated to use a potty. It is a huge change, and every child is ready at a different stage. Babies or toddlers must be able to sit, stand, walk and communicate to some degree, and be able to recognise when they need to go. Bladder control is also a physical skill that every child develops at a different age.

Look for these readiness signs

There are certain signs that you can be on the lookout for. You might notice that your child seems dissatisfied with soiled or wet nappies, and that they give some kind of warning sign just before they need to go. A dry nappy for longer periods of time is another good indication. Their bowel movements will start to be more regular and predictable. They will be interested in other people’s bathroom habits and not resist sitting down on the potty for a few minutes at a time. This is the time to initiate potty training, when their curiosity is at a peak.

Schedule potty training carefully

As a parent, you need to be ready as well. It is not a good idea to start potty training before or during winter months, when there are layers of clothing, shoes and socks to change in case of an accident. Potty training requires lots of focused time, patience and attention, so you need to have a fairly open and stress-free schedule for a while. You also need to have heaps of patience for the many accidents that are bound to happen – you don’t want to make your child feel bad for having an accident, as this set take potty training back a few steps.

There seems to be no magic number for potty training, unfortunately. The best thing to do is to watch your child for signs of readiness, and pick a comfortable time to start. You can always re-start the process at a later stage if your child is clearly not interested. Are you considering starting potty training now?

Writer:  Annabelle Lombard

“Take the cue from your child about when to start potty training.” Janet Bytheway.

  • This article has been checked by Janet Bytheway, Clinical Psychologist. A member of the BabyGroup Medical Council.

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