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How to tell when your child is ready for potty training

How will you know if your child is ready to be potty trained? Get some advice here!

The question:

How will I know if my child is ready for toilet training? – Janet in Cedar Rapids

The childcare expert answers:

Whether or not a child is ready for toilet training is probably the number one question I receive from parents as a childcare provider. My answers are both simple and complex.


First the simple answer: Yes. If you are ready as a parent to ask the question, get that potty chair out and set it up. Don’t expect it to be used, but better to have it become familiar beforeit becomes absolutely necessary. It will help with the tendency some children have to be afraid of this new time in their lives.


Now for the more complex answer. Here is where you have to know your child. Asking your child’s childcare provider is perfectly appropriate. The average child spends a lot of time in this person’s care, and there are definite signs to know if a child is nearing readiness…

The signs of readiness:

  1. bowel movements are on a pretty regular schedule
  2. follows directions,
  3. has a dry diaper after naps or other two to three hour periods
  4. can tell you that he needs to go to the bathroom
  5. shows curiosity about what happens in the bathroom
  6. wants to imitate adults, siblings, or daycare students in toileting independently
  7. can pull down his pants on his own.

Are you ready to start?

If you feel your child is ready to begin potty training, based on the above questions, then put a big smile on your face and dive in! However, remember, your child needs to be ready to begin this pivotal time in his life. If he’s not ready or is pushed too hard too soon, it could very easily backfire on you.


Most children, in my experience, are potty-trained sometime between two and a half to three years of age. Generally, the children that have the hardest time are boys and only-born children.

Some other tips

Don’t worry about what your in-laws are saying — they don’t know your child like you do. Don’t worry about the other children in the playgroup, either. However, if you have a concern as a parent about potty training, do feel comfortable discussing the matter openly and honestly with your child’s pediatrician. They have heard it all!


When you are ready to potty train, there are numerous tools now available to parents to help. There are books you and your child can read, videos you and your child can watch, special stickers you can reward, as well as targets for little boys to use. Whatever way you choose to potty train/toilet teach your child, make sure you are consistent and calm, and that you have a childcare provider who will follow through on your chosen path of teaching. But most of all, be patient — this is big!


Good luck!

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