Ditching the diapers and potty training is a huge milestone in a child's life.
But exactly when they'll be ready, and how long it will take, varies significantly.
Some toddlers will start very young and get the hang of it quite quickly, while others will start later and could take up to a year.
Patience is key
The most important thing to remember is that your toddler has to be physically and cognitively ready to ditch their diaper.
Potty training isn't something you can force or rush, and it takes a lot of patience.
It can also be an emotional rollercoaster as you realise your little one is growing up!
When to start potty training
There's no textbook age as to when to start potty training your toddler.
But a general guide is that some start to develop the necessary physical and cognitive skills between 18 and 24 months.
Other kids show no interest in potty training until they're three or four.
Even if your toddler masters staying dry during the day, nighttime dryness can be a whole other ballgame.
How long does potty training take?
Yes, it could take as little as a few days. But this is the exception rather than the rule.
One study found that kids who start younger take longer to master the potty, while the inverse was also true. So even though your child might show desire to learn, they don't have the physical or cognitive ability to do it.
Signs your child is ready to potty train
There's no textbook definition as to when your toddler will be ready to potty train. But there are some key milestones you can look for.
- Can walk, and even run, steadily
- Urinates a fair amount at one time
- Has regular, well-formed bowel movements at relatively predictable times
- Has "dry" periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows that their bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine.
- Can sit down quietly in one position for two to five minutes
- Can pull their pants up and down by themselves
- Dislikes the feeling of wearing a wet or dirty diaper
- Shows interest in other people's bathroom habits, like wanting to watch you go to the bathroom or wear underwear instead of diapers
- Gives a physical or verbal sign when they're having a bowel movement such as grunting, squatting, or actually telling you they're going
- Demonstrates a desire for independence
- Takes pride in their accomplishments
- Is in a generally cooperative stage, not a negative or contrary one.
- Understands the physical signals that mean they have to go and can tell you before it happens or even hold it until they have time to get to the potty
- Can follow simple instructions, such as "go get the toy"
- Understands the value of putting things where they belong
- Has words for urine and stool.