How do I know if my toddler is ready to potty train?

Real Mom Problem

“How do you know when they are ready? My 20 month old has shown the signs but when we put her on the potty she screams. I don't know what to do.”

by lauransmom315 lauransmom315

Quick Tips

  • 1. Your toddler might be ready to begin potty training if he or she goes an hour or more with a dry diaper
  • 2. Other signs that your toddler may be ready include letting you know when they're pooping (verbally or by hiding), pooping on a regular schedule, and not liking the feel of being in a dirty diaper
  • 3. Although some moms have success starting earlier, you might consider waiting until your toddler uses words for pee and poop and can pull down pants or lift a skirt with some ease

Real Mom Solutions

No matter which potty training method you decide to use, the moms of CafeMom have been there, done that, and have great advice to share on how -- and when - to get started.

Don't Go by Age

  • chicagoheather

    The best tip I got -- and the one that worked for us -- was "when they're ready, it's easy. If it's not easy, your child isn't ready." We tried toilet training at 2 years and it was a disaster. I took him to the toilet every 15 minutes for 5 days in a row and we still had 5+ accidents a day, many times immediately after he got off the toilet. 6 months later we tried again and he had 1 accident the first day and that was it! When he was ready, it was super easy. I was kicking myself for pushing so hard earlier since all signs were telling me he wasn't ready.

  • PeaceMuch

    Don't let age determine when to start, some kids start early some late, no big deal. Some kids aren't ready until closer to 4 as my oldest was. Don't get mad, they are learning. It's the same as learning the ABCs, take your time be patient and consistent and things will happen!

  • 2girlsMom.MN

    Don't push it. Don't do it because everyone else is. Wait for the child to be ready. I pushed my oldest because she was 2 1/2 and she was supposed to be trained because everyone else had their 2 1/2 year old trained. All it did was stress me out and make my daughter have one major power struggle. Move on to daughter #2. She's 26 months and had decided all on her own to be potty trained. She's 100% house trained but still trying to figure how to get her trained outside of our house. This is all her I'm not pushing and it wasn't my idea in the first place.

Be Patient

  • melindabelcher

    My best advice is child led potty training. My son was ready and he had no problems with it. I plan on waiting until my daughter is ready and hoping for the same success.

  • mamalinzie

    Don't start until they are ready. It's fine to introduce the potty at a young age (we started sitting our daughter on the potty as a baby so she was familiar with it, didn't want her scared). But if they aren't developmentally ready, it will just be stressful on everybody and will probably take longer.

  • Mejo88

    Let it happen when it happens. There is one positive that comes from potty training - they're potty trained. There are a ton of potential negatives. After all, he/she won't be 15 and still wearing diapers.

  • Meli55aG2001

    Be patient. If your child doesn't seem interested or has many accidents, let it go and try again at a later time. Encourage but don't pressure. Be aware that any major life change may make potty training more difficult. Follow your child's lead and try to be laid back about the process.

Look for These Signs of Readiness

  • MelanieniePooh

    If he tells you when he's gone & wants to be changed right away, it's a very good sign. Means he's aware of what he did & doesn't like to be dirty.


    Signs they're ready: Holding their bladder at night. Grabbing themselves when they gotta go or just went. Removing wet diapers. Taking off diapers to go on the floor.

  • Becca236

    We didn't even try potty training until our little one woke up with a dry diaper. Then you know she has some bladder control. She was fully potty trained at 2. If your little one is not ready, it wont work! You'll just drive yourself insane

Get Advice from a 5-Timer!

  • daughteroftruth

    I stressed myself out and my first born trying to potty train him. With the others we just waited till they were ready on their own and they all just started using the potty without any stress, charts, stickers, huge messes, tears, etc... We just waited till they started to show signs like taking their diapers off. We would ask them if they wanted to go, if they did, great, if not, no big deal. We would encourage them to go, but not force the issue. When my second was between 2-3 he just started using the potty on his own (course we would help), same with my daughter, only she was right around her third birthday, and with my fourth, it was after his fourth birthday. My 5th is starting to show signs, he asks to go potty, so we take him, he normally just sits there nothing happens, but I am sure that by his 3rd birthday he will have it down.

    I guess my advice is this; it can be a stressful process if you are trying to get it done in a week, but if you let them lead the process and give them time, it becomes just very easy and something they grow into. For me, it was less important to have them trained by any set age and it was more important to keep stress levels low in our home.