The best answer to when to start potty training is, “When your child is ready.”
As with most other milestones, it’s best to take toilet training cues from your child. When she begins showing an interest in the potty, being aware of peeing and pooping, and expressing the need to go, she is probably ready. Pique her interest with discussions, stories and potty books, and asking at the most likely times if she wants to go potty. Role modeling is important, so watching the appropriate parent should also create desire.
By age two, most children are at least physically able to control elimination voluntarily – and the two-year-old’s need to be a “big kid,” especially when combined with new “toys” like her own potty or toilet seat, is a powerful motivating force. Just realize that toilet training is probably possible this year, but it certainly isn’t necessary.
Two-year-olds love the step-by-step process, so turn it into a ritual: Pull down your pants, sit on the potty, do your business, and wipe off. (For you fathers who may not have been raised with sisters, girls always wipe down the front, not up.)
Expect three to six months of daily attention to achieve your goal. There will still be accidents for years to come whenever she is upset, preoccupied, or in an unfamiliar place. Even after successful days, most children need more time to establish the unconscious control needed to sleep through the night. If you don’t already have one, invest in a water-proof mattress pad.
Don’t over-react to accidents. They are usually not done on purpose. Punishment can have negative effects, and if you react strongly enough, she may do it again just for the attention.
If you find that your child has lost interest or is actively resisting your efforts, simply drop the subject until the next time she complains about her dirty, uncomfortable diaper. Don’t expect consistency right away. Praise success, but don’t overdo it. Also expect that if she or any member of your family is going through an emotional trauma, she may revert until a more emotionally stable time.
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