Children potty train at different times, but most are out of diapers by age four. Learn the best techniques to transition your child from diapers to briefs.
For some children, potty training comes easy. They’re ready and willing to hop up on the potty and do their thing. For others, it’s a long and frustrating process. I experienced the latter with my son.
He had peeing in the toilet down pat by the wee age of two. However, it wasn’t until he was nearly four (and two-months shy of entering pre-k) that he finally mastered pooping in the toilet.
To my child’s defense, he wasn’t a late bloomer, but had suffered severe constipation issues for several years. He associated pooping with pain, and therefore tried his best to hold it in as long as possible, making it even more painful when he did finally go.
While there’s no exact age a child should stop wearing diapers, most experts agree that kids should be potty trained by age four. In 2001, the average age of potty training was 39 months for boys and 35 months for girls, according to AllGov.com.
What the Experts Say
Potty training a child requires patience and perseverance. Remember that not all children will stop wearing diapers at the same age, and your child may potty train earlier or later than other children. Here’s a look at what some experts have to say about it:
“All children are potty trained in good time. Naturally, there are obstacles and setbacks, and potty training rarely goes the way you imagine. However, if you are prepared and realistic about your child and your situation, potty training is a fun and positive experience.”
The Potty Training Answer Book, Karen Deerwester
“The physiologic ability to begin to control the muscles involved in controlling urination and bowel movements should occur around five to nine months, around the time the baby can sit unsupported. After that, it’s a matter of perfecting the new skill, which just takes lots of practice.”
Early-Start Potty Training, Linda Sonna
“People often say that a sign of readiness is when the child starts showing interest in the toilet. In my opinion, this is an enormous misconception. A necessary sign of potty training readiness is the ability for the child to frequently communicate his or her wants. I’m not talking about speech. I’m talking about gestures, behaviors, sounds, signing.”
3 Day Potty Training, Lora Jensen
“It will take most kids about three to seven days for the potty training to click. For some kids, the process may be longer, while for others, it will be shorter.”
Oh Crap! Potty Training, Jamie Glowacki
“Learning how to use the potty is a key milestone in a child’s development. A stressful potty-training period can damage a parent/child relationship and injure a child’s self-esteem. But when this hurdle is successfully negotiated with a minimum of contention, it fosters a child’s sense of independence and accomplishment.”
Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day, Teri Crane
Potty Training Readiness
If not all kids are ready to potty train at the same time, how do I know when my child is ready? Most children under 1 year of age have little to no control over their bladder or bowel movements.
Between 12 and 18 months, control starts to slowly develop. Most children do not have proper bladder and bowel control until 24 to 30 months, according to John Hopkins Medicine (JHM). The average age of toilet training is 27 months.
To determine if your little one is ready to start potty training, look for signs of readiness. While your child doesn’t need to have every sign of readiness, he or she should possess enough signs that indicate an understanding of toilet training and an increased sense of independence.
Physical signs include:
- Ability to walk steadily
- Has “dry” periods of at least two hours
- Urinates a fair amount at one time
- Has well-formed, regular bowel movements
Behavioral signs include:
- Can pull his or her own pants up and down
- Sits quietly in one position for at least two minutes
- Shows interest in others’ bathroom habits
- Dislikes having a wet/dirty diaper
- Takes pride in accomplishments
- Gives verbal or physical signs of having a bowel movement (e.g. squatting)
- Is not resistant to potty training
Cognitive signs include:
- Can follow simple instructions
- Is able to hold it until he or she reaches the potty
- Tells you that he or she needs to go
- Consistently uses words for ‘urine’ and ‘stool’
Choosing a Potty Chair
The right type of potty chair can make all the difference when potty training your child. My son refused to use the toilet seat toppers at first as he was afraid he’s fall into the toilet.
To ease his fears, we started with a stand-alone potty before transitioning him to a seat reducer that sits over the traditional toilet seat. Here are some I recommend.
Make your little one feel safe and secure with a stand-alone potty. This potty chair by BabyBjörn is sturdy, ergonomic, and provides comfortable armrests to make it easy for your child to sit down and get up.
Simple and affordable, this over-the-toilet bowl seat creates a firm grip that works with both standard and elongated toilets. It also has a flexible splash guard to prevent accidents and is a convenient size for stand-up storage.
From Diapers to Underwear
The transition from diapers to underwear is a major hurdle that can be hard on both children and parents. When going through the potty training process, provide plenty of praise and reassurance. Create a positive association with the seat so that your child builds confidence each time it’s used.
Allow your child to remain in diapers during the initial weeks of potty training. Encourage him or her to use the potty throughout the day. However, do not become angry if your little one has an accident.
Once the accidents have dissipated and your little one is able to remain dry for extended periods of time, switch to underpants. If possible, allow your child to pick out his or her own underwear to create excitement about their new skill.
If your growing toddler is still wearing diapers, you may feel like he’s falling behind his peers. Don’t worry; kids stop wearing diapers at different ages. If you’re concerned that your toddler is becoming delayed, talk to your child’s pediatrician about your concerns.