If you wonder when to start potty training, you are not alone. This is a very common question which always comes up when discussing potty training. I often hear parents tell me they are waiting for their child to show interest in the potty or in some other way show that they are ready. “How long are you planning on waiting for that signal?” is usually my answer.
Here are some things I’ve heard people waiting for.
- Interest in the potty.
- Being able to control their bladder.
- Showing initiative.
- Hormones to kick in.
- Right age.
Very often I hear ”the longer you wait, the easier it gets to potty train”. That statement couldn’t be more wrong.
It’s quite likely you will be waiting forever, and this is exactly what the diaper companies want you to do. Think about it, why would your child suddenly start to show interest in the potty when she doesn’t need to? She can pee whenever she wants, and the diaper will absorb it super fast so she will never feel any discomfort. This is very convenient for her, she doesn’t even have to think about controlling her bladder, she can just roam around on autopilot and not bother about it at all.
This means that the initiative must come from you. When you are ready and want your child to start potty training, then go for it. From my own experience there is no such thing as being ready for potty training. You can start potty training right from birth if you want. In fact, I recommend you to start as early as possible.
In most cases it will be easier to potty train if you start as early as possible. If you decide to start from birth it will become natural for your baby to use the bathroom when she grows up since she always did this. It will also become a natural part of parenting for you as a parent instead of changing your routines later on. You might think it’s a lot of work doing it from birth and sure it is! But changing dirty diapers is a lot of work too, you just have to choose. 😊
When children get older, usually somewhere after 2 years old, they have developed a strong will and think of themselves as independent little creatures. This makes them want to do their own choices rather than listening to their parents. Drama, tantrums and lots of will won’t make potty training any easier. Older children might have grown attached to their diaper and will protest if you try to remove it. These are some of the reasons why I recommend starting as early as possible.
Depending on your goals with potty training you might want to wait until your child is capable enough. By capable I mean both mentally and physically.
Some things to consider.
- That your child is healthy and feel well.
- That your family situation is safe and calm, for instance that you didn’t recently move, new daycare, divorce or a stressful period.
- That your child can follow easy instructions.
- That your child can communicate her own will. Either by sound, signals, body language or by talking.
- That your child can get to and from the potty by herself.
- Your child should be able to sit on the potty by herself.
Apart from that, trust your own gut feeling. You know what your child can manage since you know her best. Trust your own instinct and you will know when to start potty training!
A common age for children to fulfill the above list is when they are somewhere between 18 and 24 months old. This is an excellent age to start potty training if you didn’t do it earlier and your goal is to make your child use the potty all by herself. Don’t worry too much if your child is older, you can still potty train your child successfully. It’s a bit more challenging and might take some more time. But by using the advices on this webpage it will get a lot easier.
What about bladder control? Is there any point in potty training if my child can’t control her bladder yet? First, let’s talk about what bladder control is. What is bladder control? The opening and closing of the bladder is controlled by muscles. Like all muscles, in order to control them, you have to train them. Young children urinate small amounts frequently, they don’t empty the whole bladder at once and wait for it to get full again. As they get older they learn to control the bladder because they don’t want to get that uncomfortable feeling of getting wet.
So what happens when we put on instant absorbing nappies on them? They don’t feel any need to train their bladder control and it will be delayed. If trained properly, by not using diapers or by using cloth diapers, babies are able to control their bladder as early as just a few months old. As you can see there is no point in waiting for your child to get bladder control, this is something they get by training. Bladder control should not affect when to start potty training.
Does hormones impact on potty training readiness?
It’s widely discussed how big impact hormones like vasopressin have on bladder control. Some say that the hormone does not exist from birth and that training won’t make any difference. Studies show that the hormones does exist from birth since they are used for many other functions as well. As far as it’s known, the hormones only impacts the child’s capability to become dry during night.
Very few children are affected and hormones are only one factor among several other which cause children to wet during night. Something I think is interesting is that studies show that the earlier you start potty training the sooner your child will get dry during night. This means that it’s unlikely that hormones is what triggers when your child will start being dry during night. Just like with bladder control, hormones should not affect when to start potty training.
Summertime is the perfect time to potty train
I often hear from parent that they want to wait until summertime before they start potty training. The general idea is that during summer children wear less clothes and you can do potty training in your garden. This is also the time when most families will have a longer vacation.
Wearing less clothes means less messy when accidents occurs and it’s also quicker to take them off and on. You should still have them wear some clothes on their lower parts so they will get the uncomfortable feeling when an accident occurs.
For obvious reasons it’s very convenient to potty train in your garden. Your grass will be happy for the extra fertilizer and you don’t have to clean it up afterwards. Don’t forget to wear covering clothes if the sun is strong, a sun hat and sunscreen if needed.
I agree, potty training in the summer has many benefits but all other seasons will work just as well. It’s more important to have a few consecutive days where you can fully focus on potty training. Summer vacation might be it, but it could also be any other time of the year.
When to start nighttime potty training?
Now that we have a plan for when to start potty training during daytime, wouldn’t it be nice to plan for nighttime potty training as well? Totally! Unfortunately I have bad news. Nighttime potty training is completely different from daytime potty training. This is not something we can teach our children.
As far as it’s known it’s controlled by a hormone called vasopressin. While the hormone exists from birth it usually takes longer for it to affect the amount of urine produced during night. It varies a lot between children. Some are dry during night at the age of 2 while it’s still considered normal to be bedwetting until the age of 8.
Some children wake up at night and feel a need to use the potty. In that case you can put a “night potty” in her room for her to use. This is unusual and not something I think you should encourage unless your child is very determined about it.
However, there’s still some hope. Studies have shown that children who start potty train earlier are also dry in the night earlier. So this means that the earlier you start daytime potty training it will be more likely she gets dry during nighttime earlier. No time to lose!
Let’s do a summary. When to start potty training? In my opinion it’s best to start potty training as early as possible. It’s never too late though, it only gets a little bit more difficult. If your goal is to have your child independent and use the potty on her own, an optimal age is 18 to 24 months old or whenever you think she is capable as mentioned above.
A lot of families prefer potty training in the summer which is convenient but any season will work. Don’t worry about nighttime potty training. It will happen by itself and it could be several years after she is dry during daytime.
You are the one who decides when your child is ready and when you think is a good time to start. The initiative should come from you, not your child. Most important of all, it should be a fun experience to potty train! If you think you’re ready, check out my big article on how to potty train.