Parenting Resource

Toileting Readiness

ls my child ready for toilet learning?

Children develop control over their bowel and bladder between 24 and 30 months old. Your toddler needs this physical skill to be able to use the toilet. But your child must be emotionally ready too. Some children are ready at 24 months, and others are not ready until age three, or even older.

Your child is ready to learn to use the toilet when they:

  • Stay dry for at least 2 hours at a time.
  • Copy a parent’s toileting behavior.
  • Can follow simple instructions.
  • Know how to walk, pull their pants up and down, and can get on and off the potty with some help. Notice they are going pee or poop. For example, your child might go into another room or under the table. This is important because if your child does not have this ability yet, they won’t be successful at learning to use the toilet.

The most important thing is for your child to show some interest in using the potty. They might show you by telling you they want to use the toilet or wear “big kid” underwear. Or they might say they want to go “like Daddy does.”

When not to start toilet learning:

Some things can get in the way of successful toilet use. For example, when children are going through a big change, it might be best to wait. Common family changes that are generally not good times to start toileting include.

  • An upcoming or recent family move.
  • Starting a new child care arrangement.
  • Switching from a crib to a bed.
  • When mom is close to her due date or recently had a new baby.
  • A major illness, a recent death, or any other family crisis.

If your child seems ready, you can move forward with more support as they practice using the toilet. If your child does not seem ready but you are eager for them to be, perhaps reach out to your pediatric primary care provider for support and strategies.