Is my child ready to start toilet training?

By Tracy Fulwood,

"When do I start toilet training?" is one of the main questions parents ask, and toilet training readiness can be the key contributing factor for months of delay, simply because parents didn't know. Just knowing what to avoid can save lots of time, tears and frustrations.

In this article Tracy Fulwood from Potty Training provides advice on toilet training.

There are definite signs your child is ready to get going with toilet training and if your child is showing these signs then don't hold them back. It will be easier for you and your child if they are willing and eager to go.

The challenge lies in the fact that you cannot rely on readiness exclusively as a reason to start toilet training. There are other factors that get in the way.

The reasons you can't rely on readiness alone to start toilet training are:

  1. Parents may not know the signs of readiness and thus miss that their child is telling them they are ready
  2. Certain personalities will simply not show you signs of readiness because of their inherent make-up - there are two in particular
  3. Parents rely on their child's independence exclusively to decide whether they should start e.g. my child cannot walk or talk so they can't be toilet trained. This is a problem because "independence" is the "finish" of the process, not the start

Signs of readiness include:

  1. Pulling at the nappy, dislike of wearing a nappy
  2. Struggle at nappy changes
  3. Telling you wees/poos before or after. It is an awareness of their body
  4. Showing an interest in the toilet, or an interest in mum/dad/sibling going to the toilet
  5. Indicating they need to go by tapping their nappy, taking the nappy off, etc
  6. A regular poo routine

Independence readiness:

  1. Ability to pull down/pull up pants themselves
  2. Ability to take themselves to the toilet, climb up themselves, etc

Other websites include things like ability to tell you verbally they can go, ability to hold on for two hours or more, etc. You see, children can communicate without needing to talk. I can guarantee you will know your baby is hungry or tired by how loud they cry. They don't need to speak to you for you to know. The same with toilet training. A simply tap of the nappy is an obvious indicator without needing words.

Every child has different bladder sizes, and you will also get better with practice at holding on. A real life example, my sister's twins boys at 14 months had one going every 40 minutes and one every 4 hours. Same age, different bladder sizes.

Your child can stay clean and dry without having independence capabilities or the need to verbalise. Like I said, this is the least important of the readiness, not the most.

Exclusive to is the "Know Your Child" system where parents discover if the unique personality of their child. This provides a greater understanding of their child's needs, revealing "why" they are doing what they are doing. If you have a child that is laid-back or cautious for example, they simply will not show you signs of readiness. In this very common situation, the laid back child doesn't care and they are so cruisy they tend to be a bit lazy and will choose the ease of the nappy to go. The cautious child doesn't like change so they will stick to what you have originally shown them - the nappy. It goes against their nature and inherent make-up to deviate from what they know. This is why you can't rely on readiness alone to start.

So if your child is showing any of those signs - go for it! Don't hold them back. Don't be a situation where you are exclaiming, "Wait for me, I'm your leader!" Be warned, readiness can go away. If you ignore your child's signals, they eventually decide this obviously isn't important to mum or dad, so they stop.

If your child is nearing two years old and there are no obvious signs of readiness being displayed, this could potentially be because of their personality. It is highly advisable to step in and get going. You need to guide and teach your child what to do and help them overcome any fear or lack of interest. You would do the same with eating vegetables. Treat toilet training with the same relaxed perspective.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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