Are you ready to be done with diapers? Is your toddler? Perhaps you need to get the older sibling out of diapers before a new little one joins the family? How do you know if it is time for busy toddler potty training? This process can be challenging, but it is also rewarding. You and your child will feel a sense of pride when they get to wear their first big kid underwear.
As a mom of seven kids, I’ve had my fair share of potty training experiences. And while every child is different, there are definitely some signs that your toddler is ready to start using the big kid toilet.
Potty training is a milestone our kids will reach at some point. But how do you know when your child is ready? Here are signs and clues to be on the lookout for. your child is showing all or most of these signs, it might be time to start potty training!
Busy Toddler Potty Training: Signs Your Child Is Ready
This post is the ultimate guide for knowing if your busy toddler is ready for potty training. Follow the signs and it will pave the way to a successful experience for everyone. Even if they are stubborn, your busy toddler will give you clues if they are ready.
Potty Training is Not a Competition
Potty training is a big accomplishment for any toddler. It can be frustrating. It might be a mess. You both might feel stressed. But the smiles will be worth it once those diapers are gone forever.
Having a potty training plan in place for your busy toddler will increase your success and might even prevent a few messes.
Potty training is not a competition and it is essential that you look for the signs in your toddler. I have 9 kids and they were all potty trained by 18 months, but that doesn’t mean my methods will work for everyone. If it takes your kid 20 months or 5 years or somewhere in between, that is okay. Not all kids will be ready at the same time. It’s not a competition, mama, and each kid will be different.
Even though all toddlers are unique individuals, the indicators of potty training readiness will be similar for most kids. If you are afraid your child is not at this developmental milestone “on time”, please see your pediatrician. Here are a couple of books you might find helpful: Potty Training in 3 Days and Ditch Diapers Fast.
What Are Realistic Potty Training Expectations?
Just as every child is different when they start potty training, they will also be different in how long it takes to become a professional at this new skill. It often takes 3-6 months for a busy toddler to become proficient. It might take even longer to stay dry at nighttime.
Some children will show these readiness signs at age 2 and others might not be ready until much later. In general, if your child starts too young (when they aren’t ready) the process will take longer and sometimes kids will develop absolute resistance to potty training.
Here are the signs that you can expect from your active little one, so you know they’re ready to start potty training.
Mama! It’s Wet!
In the toddler stage, children might start to notice if they have a saggy diaper or they might complain if a diaper is stinky. If you notice your toddler beginning to pull at their diaper when they are wet, it’s time to buy a Potty Chair! Take your little one to the store and let them help pick it out. This ensures the potty training kick-off party is started off right!
Some potty chairs sit on the floor and will need to be cleaned out after each use. Others are an insert that sits on top of the toilet. Some kids will have a definite preference. Even if your child helped pick out one option and then refuses to use it, that’s ok. You might want to try a different style.
If you choose the style that is an insert that sits on top of the toilet then your toddler will also need a step stool to make getting up there easy for them. The best step stool for toddler potty training is THIS ONE. (You can trust the mom of 7 here.) If you’re looking for an all-in-one then this Step Stool Potty Seat is genius.
If your toddler doesn’t care if they are wet or dirty, that doesn’t mean they aren’t ready for potty training. Keep reading for more signs of readiness!
Your Toddler Wants to Know What’s Going On In There
The first thing most parents notice on their child’s potty training journey is that their child is more interested in using the bathroom. Your toddler may follow you into the bathroom, or even ask questions about your bathroom use. It is totally up to you how open your family is with bathroom tours and bodily functions.
Your child might want to start flushing the toilet or want to sit on the toilet themselves with their clothes on. If they start asking you questions or play-acting bathroom use, then this is definitely a good time to get started potty training your toddler.
Some kids will even strip down and run into the bathroom before they even know how to use the toilet. This is a sure sign they’re ready to at least attempt to toilet train.
Are You Changing Fewer Diapers?
When your toddler gets to the point where they’re able to stay dry for a few hours at a time, that is a sign they may be gaining some bladder or bowel control. This can indicate they are ready to start trying.
If your child is able to sleep through the night and stay dry – even if it’s not every night – they are probably ready to start using the toilet. Keep in mind that staying totally dry at nighttime will usually take longer than staying dry in the daytime. So keep that mattress protector on for a while yet.
Your Toddler Understands What Potty Means
No matter what you call it: potty, toilet, bathroom, or something else – when your toddler is able to understand what it means – this can be another sign they’re ready to transition away from diapers.
They might even start a commentary when you go to the bathroom. “Are you going potty, mama?” or “Are you peeing mama?”. This can be an additional way to know if your toddler is ready to start potty training.
Your Child Tells You
Above, I mentioned it might be time for potty training your busy toddler if they notice when they are wet or poopy. Sometimes children will tell you in no uncertain terms that they need to go potty.
Obviously, not all children will have the verbal skills to communicate their need to use the bathroom, but they might have notorious signs such as grabbing at themselves, doing a unique “potty dance” or even start pulling down their pants in the middle of the room.
It’s a good idea to teach your toddler the Sign Language sign for “bathroom”, in case they cannot (or choose not to) communicate the urgency verbally.
Can They Dress Themselves?
Even if they can’t fully dress themselves yet, if your kiddo is able to pull down their diaper or training pants, your toddler is showing signs of potty training readiness. Some kids will even start undoing the Velcro on their diapers because they can feel it is wet or dirty. This is a sure sign it is time to start potty training.
Your Toddler Wants to Sit on the Potty Chair
If you have already bought a potty chair and your child starts wanting to use it or sit on it, then they are ready for potty training. Go ahead and show them how to use it. Make sure they can get up on the toilet easily if you are using an insert. Again, here is the best step stool for toddler potty training.
I recommend having them practice sitting on the potty chair even when they don’t need to go. Talk through the ways they might feel they need to go and what they should do. Even if your child doesn’t have a lot of verbal skills, they will understand exactly what you are saying and learn how to go potty successfully – just like a big kid.
Some kids are afraid of sitting on the big toilet or are unsure of themselves on a potty chair. Practicing a little bit will give them the confidence they need to know it is a safe endeavor.
I’m Ready Mama!
Some kids will tell you when they need to go potty, but will then freak out if you try to put them on the toilet or potty chair. Remember that each toddler will potty train at their own pace. Although some kids might recognize the signs of urgency, not all children will be eager to potty train.
Be consistent but don’t force the issue if your child is not ready. There is a lot of fear, anxiety, and big emotions for those little toddlers. Provide positive reinforcement and when they start saying they want to use the toilet, make sure you give them the opportunity. Using tech gadgets is a super fun way to get your kiddo on the road to potty independence. Using a Potty Training Watch will give your little one reminders so you’re not constantly mentioning potty and letting their watch do the “talking”. This gives kids a positive and fun reminder.
Your Toddler Can Follow Directions.
As I mentioned before, having a few practice runs on the potty chair can really improve your chances of success. If your toddler starts accompanying you in the bathroom or they want to sit on the toilet, then this is a good time to make sure they can follow the directions. Understanding expectations and actually completing the tasks can be two separate things when it comes to toddlers.
Use this opportunity to talk about proper hygiene. Include instructions for cleaning themselves after going to the bathroom. Some kids will be scared of the noise of a flushing toilet. If this is the case for your toddler, that’s okay. Don’t force the flushing if it is scary for them. They will eventually gain this skill.
This is also a great time to practice effective hand washing and drying.
Once your toddler is able to follow simple instructions like how to wash their hands and use the toilet properly, they may be prepared for potty training.
Potty Training is Fun!
Yes, potty training a rambunctious toddler can be frustrating at times, but do your best to make it fun. The more relaxed you are in this process, the more relaxed your kid will be, too. Making potty training fun rather than stressful is going to make your child feel more like a big kid, and increase their chance of success.
Potty training a strong-willed child can have its own challenges, but keeping the process fun will certainly help. Give lots of praise, high 5s, and hugs when your child participates in the potty training process. Get creative and find ways to make it more enjoyable for your kiddo. Reward charts or making Cheerio targets in the toilet are just a couple of ways you could do this. Using a Potty Training Chart is a great way to track how things are going. Regardless of how it’s going, you can still use this chart as a positive experience.
One Last Reminder About Potty Training Your Busy Toddler
No matter their age, staying positive and patient when your potty training your toddler is key! Positive parenting is proven to be effective at any age. Try it, even if it’s a new concept and you’re unsure. It can be beneficial to you and your child.
Never yell or shame your child if they have an accident. Accidents happen and this is part of the process. Reassure your child that it is okay. They will try again soon.
Remember that every child is different. While the average age for toilet training is anywhere from 18 months to 3 years old, if they aren’t showing signs of readiness, then they aren’t ready.
Do not force a child into potty training before they are showing these signs of readiness as that is a surefire recipe for many accidents, alligator tears, and a much longer process. Most children will be potty trained well before heading to kindergarten, so take your time and be patient.
If your child is resistant to potty training for an extended period of time or seems to have a fear of the toilet, you may want to talk to your child’s pediatrician for more potty training assistance. Your child may have some anxiety or other unresolved issues their doctor can help you with.
Some children might appear to be totally potty trained and then go through a period of regression. This is pretty normal and can sometimes be associated with a fear of change or anxiety about losing their place in the family with a new sibling’s pending arrival. If this happens, speak with your child about any big feelings they might be having. Again, you can consult your child’s pediatrician for further assistance if the regression lasts for an extended period of time.
When it comes to managing large families, getting your toddler potty trained will be a blessing. Hopefully, the tips above helped you answer the question, “Is my toddler ready to potty train?” When they show the signs that they are ready, keep it fun and positive. These days don’t last forever, mamas, you’re doing great!