When should I start toilet training my child?
Your child must be both physically and emotionally ready for
toilet training. Most children are ready to start when they are
between 22 and 30 months of age, but every child is different. Toilet
training usually becomes a long and frustrating process if you try to start it
before your child is ready.
Before children can use the toilet,
they must be able to control their bowel and bladder muscles. Some signs of
this control are having bowel movements around the same time each day, not
having bowel movements at night, and having a dry diaper after a nap or for at
least 2 hours at a time. Children must also be able to climb, talk, remove
clothing, and have mastered other basic motor skills before they can use the
toilet by themselves.
Most children are physically ready to
toilet train before they are emotionally ready. Your child must want to use the
toilet and be willing to cooperate with you. He or she may even talk about
being a "big boy" or "big girl" and wearing underpants rather than diapers.
Training generally does not go well if your child is in the stage where "no" is
his or her automatic response to every request.
How long does it take to toilet train?
A child is
considered toilet-trained when he or she knows that it is time to go to the
bathroom and is able to climb onto and use the toilet with little help. The average time it takes is 3 months. Girls usually are toilet-trained a little earlier than boys are.1
Your child will likely need help with wiping after a bowel movement until age 4
or 5. He or she may also need extra help in unfamiliar bathrooms, such as
public restrooms, until about age 5 or 6.
What if my child resists?
If your child resists
using the toilet, he or she probably isn't ready. Sometimes toilet training
disruptions or delays are caused by stress or major changes in routine. Also, a
child who is doing well with toilet training may suddenly have difficulty for
no obvious reason. This is a normal part of toilet training. It is best to
start or resume toilet training when your child is receptive to it and in a
Your child's toilet training experience
should be positive. If it becomes a struggle or a battle of wills, it is best
to ease up or stop for a while. Although you may be ready for toilet training,
your child may not be.