TOP TIPS – When to start potty training?

When should I start potty training my toddler?

There is no standard age at which a child is ready to start using the potty. But most children gain the skills they need to start training when they are between 18 months and three years old. Girls tend to be ready a few months earlier than boys.

Is your child a late starter?

If your toddler seems to be a late starter when it comes to potty training, you may be reassured to know that the age a child is potty trained is not linked to intellect. Nor does it correlate with other stages of development.

For example, if a child was an early talker, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be potty trained earlier. If other children seem to be out of nappies but your child isn’t yet, don’t worry and don’t feel pressurised into starting too soon. It helps to remember that you can’t force your child to use a potty.

If they’re not ready, you won’t be able to make them use it.

What are the physical signs of readiness?

  • Has regular, soft, formed poos at relatively predictable times, and doesn’t poo during the night
  • Has dry periods of at least one or two hours, or wakes up with a dry nappy after a nap. This shows that her bladder muscles are developed enough to hold her wee in and store it
  • Can pull her pants up and down with only a little help
  • Shows an interest when you go to the bathroom

What are the behavioural signs of readiness?

  • Demonstrates a desire for independence
  • Shows signs of discomfort when her nappy is wet or dirty
  • Shows a wish to please, and enjoys praise

What are the cognitive signs of readiness?

  • Can understand and follow simple instructions and requests, such as “Do you need a wee?” or “Where’s the potty?”
  • She has words for wee and poo
  • Shows awareness that she’s having a wee or poo. She may stop what she’s doing for a minute, or go somewhere else, or tell you that she’s had a wee or poo.
  • She may tell you she needs to have a wee or a poo before she does it


It’s probably easier to start in the summer when washed nappies dry more quickly and there are fewer clothes to take off. Do it over a period of time when there are no great disruptions or changes to your child’s or your family’s routine.


  • Potty training is usually fastest if your child is at the last stage before you start the training. If you start earlier, be prepared for a lot of accidents as your child learns.
  • Accidents will happen for a while, so when your child does use the potty or manage to stay dry, even if it’s just for a short time, let them know how pleased you are.
  • Even though accidents can be very frustrating, try not to show your child that you are frustrated. Explain that you want them to use the potty or toilet next time.

Few good advice regarding potty training in the nursery:

First parents have to start potty training at home and then the nursery teachers will help you and your child to carry on the training in the nursery.

I suggest taking at least 4-5 pairs of underwears, socks and trousers to the nursery. You may want to buy cheap underwears as the nursery staff should not keep soiled underwears in the classroom, not even in the bathroom (it is just simply not hygienic, and I am sure you do not want to deal with soiled underwears at the end of your day). It means, that teachers should have the rights to bin the underwears, but ask them about it beforehand.

Good luck! I am sure you will do very well!


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Hi, it's Eva and I am an Early Years and Parenting Consultant. Here, I am sharing my knowledge about child development and experience in teaching. Have a look around and follow me on SNS to keep in touch!

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