No More Diapers: Is Your Child Ready?

“No more diapers!” Sounds great, but how do you get ready for toilet training? Here are some tips.

Be sure you are ready!

No More Diapers: Is Your Child Ready?

Helping your child learn to use the toilet takes time and patience. Have a potty chair, a child-sized seat that fits the toilet, and a sturdy stepstool on hand. Training can take 3 months or more.

Get your child interested!

  • Let her get to know her potty chair or portable toilet seat. Let her sit on it fully clothed, if she wants.
  • Check out children’s books about using the potty and read them with your child [e.g., It’s Potty Time by Chris Sharp (2009) and Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel (2007)].
  • Let him observe you or other children (if they are willing) using the toilet.
  • Show him how the toilet works. Let him flush it if he wants.
  • Never leave a toddler alone in a bathroom.

Teach the right words.

Use the terms you want your child to use. You might say in a friendly voice, “I’m changing your diaper because you peed in it.” “You pooped in your diaper, so I’m putting on a clean one.” Use terms that other people will understand.

Watch for signs that your child is ready.

Most children learn to use the toilet between 2 and 3 years of age. Girls show signs of readiness an average of 3 months before boys. Your child may be ready to start toilet training if she shows any of the following signs:

  • Knows the diaper is wet or dirty and wants a clean one
  • Has bowel movements at regular times
  • Stays dry for 2 hours at a time
  • Uses facial expressions, sounds, or words to show she is ready to urinate or have a bowel movement
  • Understands the terms you use for bladder and bowel functions
  • Follows simple directions and likes to put things in the right place

Be aware of signs that your child is not ready.

You may need to wait a little longer if he simply doesn’t want to sit on the toilet or if he is going through any of the following:

  • An illness
  • A phase of irritability or power struggles with you
  • Major life changes such as the birth of a new baby or moving to a new home

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Child Care Center
  • Family Child Care
  • Home
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Parents / Family
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related IEL Birth to Three Guidelines:
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2013