backup og meta
Health Screening
Ask Doctor

How to Start Potty Training a Toddler

Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD · Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Jun 10, 2021

How to Start Potty Training a Toddler

For parents, potty training is a big milestone! But as toddlers develop at their unique pace, it may be hard to determine the best time to start potty training your kids. Learning how to start potty training a toddler requires patience as well as cooperation between the child and the parent. If you think both you and your little one are ready for the next big step, then go ahead and start the training.

Is My Toddler Ready to Potty Train?

Typically, children, ages 18 to 24 months, are gearing up for potty training. However, not every child at this age is ready to move forward. Your toddler must be physically, mentally, and behaviorally prepared for them to take on this new track. It is time to potty train if your toddler:

  • Walks and sits without support
  • Communicates as well as understands and can follow simple directions
  • Is able to do simple chores like putting away toys and clothes
  • Can say “yes” or “no” to your given tasks
  • Knows how to pull up and pull down their diapers or underpants
  • Can understand “potty words” such as pee, poop, or potty.
  • Can use the potty
  • Seems interested to go to the restroom or imitate you when you go to the restroom
  • Starts to dislike wearing diapers because they’re wet/soiled or are just simply uncomfortable
  • Has a dry diaper for about an hour or two (which means they can hold their urine in the urinary bladder, unlike when they are still infants)

Not all the signs mentioned above should be present in your child. It still boils down to your toddler’s readiness to start potty training.

How to Start Potty Training a Toddler

Even before your toddler is fully ready to potty train, it is best if you slowly introduce your child to the process. Here are some tips you can do for an easier transition from diapers to potty:

Plan the beginning of your potty training

Before you start potty training, make sure that your family has no prior commitments for vacation or gatherings far from home.

If you do potty training but you need to leave home for a while (maybe a few days or weeks), it will disrupt your toddler’s learning rhythm about potty training.

Also, it might be a good idea to plan he beginning of potty training before big changes, like your baby starting in daycare.

Decide on what you want to use to train your toddler

Do you want to use a potty or do you want to go straight to the toilet?

A potty is a great option because of its mobility. A potty is also more child-friendly because of its height and structure if compared to the real toilet.

Using the toilet, on the other hand, is a more advanced way of potty training a toddler. Toilets are bigger than your toddler, that is why they may find it intimidating and scary at first.

To use the toilet, make sure you have the right equipment, such as a stepping stool and a smaller toilet seat that can help ensure your child’s safety when using the toilet.

Choose your “potty words”

Pick words that your toddler can use when it’s time “to go.” Use words such as pee (urinate), poop (bowel movement), or potty (go to the restroom or use the potty).

Have a potty schedule

Train your toddler to potty at specific times in a day. For example, make your toddler sit in the potty every morning before breakfast and after every nap. This will teach your child to learn when to potty even if you are not around.

In addition, let your child sit on the potty or the toilet for a couple of minutes every day for familiarity.

Show your toddler how to use the toilet

It is awkward and somehow uncomfortable but this will make your toddler learn to potty fast. Young children learn by imitating, so go to the restroom together and explain what you’re doing.

Help your toddler

When you see your toddler crossing their legs or holding and pressing their genital area, this only means they need “to go.” Ask your child if they want to go potty, and lead your child quickly to the toilet. This will help your toddler familiarize the feeling of needing to use the potty.

Teach your child about hygiene

If your toddler is a girl, teach her to wipe her genitals from the front to the back, and to wash and dry the area. If you have a boy, teach him to shake his penis to get rid of excess urine and wipe the area dry.

You also need to teach your toddler how to properly wash their hands after going to the potty.

Do not force your child to potty

Let your child decide when to use the potty or the toilet. Forcing toddlers will just lead to more problems and resistance.

Dress your child comfortably

Clothes that are easy to pull up and down are best when potty training. Avoid clothes that are difficult to take off, such as overalls and onesies that have snaps on the crotch. These clothes are difficult to remove, especially when your child needs to potty.

Give rewards

Try making a potty board where your child can put stickers after successfully going to the potty. This will motivate your child to continue training as well as help them feel that they are doing a great job.

Every child is doing their best to slowly become independent. By simply acknowledging your child’s efforts, it will help them become more willing and open to more learning.

Young children will still have difficulties in potty training during nighttime. Your child will most likely get used to sleeping without wetting the bed by the age of 5 to 7. If you want to try potty training your child during bedtime, use a waterproof bed cover in case of accidents.

Potty Training Difficulties

Potty training is a challenge for both you and your child. Accidents can happen since both of you are just getting used to the process. To help yourself and your child adjust well, and make the transition as smooth as possible, here is what you can do:

Always have spare clothing. Having extra clothes on hand to lessen your worries when potty training.

Let your child help. After an accident, let your child help you clean up. This will teach your toddler to be more aware of their actions. Cleaning up the mess will also teach your child that peeing and pooping must be done in the potty or the toilet.

Stay calm and be patient. When accidents happen, do not reprimand your child. Instead, console and let them know that it is okay to make a mistake. They can do better next time.

Key Takeaways

Getting rid of the diaper is an important milestone that many parents look forward to. How to start potty training a toddler may be challenging, but all you need to do is be supportive and trust your child throughout the process. Potty training may take time (a few weeks or even months), but eventually, you and your toddler will achieve independence.

Learn more about Parenting here. 


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

John Paul Abrina, MD

Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Jun 10, 2021

ad iconadvertisement

Was this article helpful?

ad iconadvertisement
ad iconadvertisement