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Toilet Training

How do I know when my child is ready to start toilet training?

Most children are ready to begin the process between 24 to 27 months, but some children will be ready earlier or later than that. If you start earlier, toilet learning will probably just take longer[1]. How to know when to initiate the process? Make sure your child has most of the readiness skills listed below, and that the timing is right for your family.

Look for these readiness skills:

When to start the process:

What is the average age for toilet-training?

The physical maturity and readiness skills needed for successful toilet learning appear at the same time in girls and boys-between 18 and 30 months of age. The average age for girls to be toilet trained is 29 months, and for boys it's 31 months. Keep in mind that these are averages. Ninety-eight percent of kids are trained by 36 months of age.

What are some basic principles behind good toilet training?

How long does it usually take for a child to become reliably trained?

An average time frame for success in toilet training is three to six months.  It is common, however, for children to continue to wet at night until they are five years old.  By six years of age, most children (90%) do stay dry all night.  During the toilet training process, many children refuse to train and even regress.  This is usually only a temporary setback that is best handled by continuing encouragement and a "keep trying" attitude. If they become very resistant it is a sign to back off for a while (a few weeks to a couple of months), to avoid a power struggle. It is important not to shame your child or make them feel like a failure.

What kind of potty or potty seat should I use and where should I put it?

Kids need to feel comfortable and in control when starting to use the potty.  A training potty allows the child to sit with both feet firmly on the floor.  If your child prefers, a child seat can be attached to the adult toilet.  Make sure it is stable, and your child has a stool to climb up on, and rest their feet on while sitting. It's a good idea to put the potty in the family room or play room at the beginning, so that it is accessible and not intimidating to your child.

What are the steps in the toilet training process?

What are some tips for trouble-shooting?

What about children with special needs learning to use the potty?

Here are some tips:

A no-nonsense, often humorous approach, with strategies that have produced results for parents of children with autism and related disorders nationwide. Promising no "quick fixes," The Potty Journey systematically guides you through the entire toileting journey, step-by-step, to the ultimate destination—dry pants.

Where can I find more information?

Here are some more resources with good basic advice on toilet training:

Related topics on YourChild:

What are some recommended books and videos?

Books for parents:

Books for kids ages 1-3:

Videos for kids:


Written and compiled by Kyla Boyse, R.N. and Kate Fitzgerald, M.D. Reviewed by faculty and staff at the University of Michigan.

Updated March 2010


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