Some parents will proudly tell you that their daughter potty trained herself at the tender age of 18 months. Others will lament that their son was still wearing pull-ups at his third birthday party. In the WebMD online discussion about Potty Training, guest parenting expert Laura Jana, MD says that not all kids are ready to potty train at the same time. Because children do not operate on a strict schedule, and because they are not likely to stand up one morning and say, “I'm ready to use the potty now, Mommy,” it’s our job as parents to read their signals. But what arethose signals?
Whether your child is 18 months or 3 years old, there are certain traits you can watch for that may be signs of readiness. If he stays dry for two or more hours at a time, poops on a reasonably predictable schedule, and is aware of his bladder and bowel movements (“Uh-oh! I pooped,” or asks to be changed), it may be time to start using the potty.
However, potty training isn’t just about putting pee and poop in the toilet. It's also about the steps a child needs to take to get there. Jana says that if your child can’t follow a string of tasks -- like sitting, wiping, flushing, and washing her hands -- she may not be ready. Kids also need to be able to pull their pants down and back up. And if you’re continually doing everything for your child before and/or after she uses the potty, she's not grasping the full potty-time routine.
One mom says that at about 2½ her son decided on his own that he was ready for the potty. One morning she tried to put a diaper on him and he refused, screaming, “No, I big boy!” During his first week in underwear, he had accidents -- and the pooping accidents lasted a bit longer. But overall, she says, it was easy.
How did you know when your child was ready to ditch the diapers?