When Should I Start Potty Training?

Potette have been helping parents with stress-free potty training products and tips for over 17 years. Today, they’re sharing their advice on starting your child’s potty training journey and knowing when to start.

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The ability to successfully potty train is a developmental process. In order to promote a smooth potty training experience, a child should be physically, socially and emotionally ready. If you wait for your child to reach these milestones, it will make the process so much easier.


So how will I know when my child is ready?

Children often demonstrate signs that they are ready in each of these areas. Here are some to look out for:

Physical readiness

When a child begins to go longer without urinating, it can be a sign that they are approaching readiness. Each individual child is different, but usually holding for at least two hours is an indicator that the child has experienced bladder growth and has gained the required bladder control required for successful training. Often children will also begin waking up dry from a nap – but this is not always the case.

It is also important to ensure the child is not experiencing a UTI or constipation before commencing the process. Speak to your GP if you are concerned about this.


Social readiness

In order to potty train successfully, a child will need to be able to communicate when they need to use a potty or toilet. This does not have to be verbally – non-verbal children can also successfully potty train, and may communicate needs using sign, flash cards or pointing.

A good indicator is a child telling you when they need to go or have gone. Your child may also develop an interest in others using the toilet, potty or nappy. Some children may hide (behind the sofa or under a table are common places) when using their nappy. This can be a sign that they are becoming socially aware of their toileting habits and are choosing to go in a private place. This also suggests that they are able to recognise the signs that they need to go and are able to transport themselves to a different location in which to do so – a helpful skill for the potty process.


Emotional Readiness

Even when a child is physically and socially ready to begin formal potty training, it is important that they are also emotionally ready. It is usually helpful to give some space between major life events (for example, the arrival of new sibling, moving house, bereavement or parental separation) and commencing the potty process where possible. It is also helpful if a child does not feel shame around the process. We recommend that nappy contents are not talked about in a dirty or shameful way and that they are never made to feel shamed for accidents (which are to be expected).



It can be helpful if the child’s environment encourages the potty process. This can help a child understand what is expected of them long before they begin formal training. For example, having a potty on show in the bathroom, having pants on display and reading potty books can be advantageous. We recommend showing them useful items, such as the Potette, an ingenious portable potty which folds for ease of use, and also acts as a potty training toilet seat. This will ensure that these items are familiar to them when they do commence training.

Potty training requires support, patience and time. It can be helpful to wait until a time where you are available to offer these things – such as a long weekend where you have little else scheduled.

What about night training?

Although they sometimes occur simultaneously, usually day and night training are two separate processes. It is not unusual for there to be a year or more between the two stages. Night training is dependent on the developmental production of a hormone to reduce the production of urine at night. It also requires the bladder to be of significant size to hold urine for longer. Usually, night training does not require any specific training. We recommend continual use of the nappy, until it is dry for at least one week.

The above advice offers helpful indicators which may determine when a child is ready to commence potty training. Children do not have to show all of these signs and it is also important to remember that individual children may differ. If you start potty training and then believe they may not be ready, it is perfectly acceptable to pause and recommence at a later date.


These signs also indicate the optimum time to begin formal potty training, but it is never too early to include your child in informal potty prep. For example, if they are in the bathroom with you, talk them through the potty process. Or when they use their nappy, label what they have done in a non-judgemental manner – for example ‘you have done a poo, lets change you.’ This may make it easier for your child to communicate their needs when more formal potty training commences.