Your child is toilet trained when, without any reminders, he walks to the potty, pulls down his pants, urinates or passes a bowel movement (BM), and pulls up his pants. Some children will learn to control their bladders first. Others will start with bowel control. Both kinds of control can be worked on simultaneously. Bladder control through the night normally happens several years later than daytime control. The gradual type of toilet training discussed here can usually be completed in 1 to 3 months, if your child is ready.
Don't begin training until your child is clearly ready. Readiness doesn't just happen. It involves concepts and skills you can begin teaching your child at 18 months of age or earlier. All children can be made ready for toilet training by 3 years, most by 2 1/2 years, many by 2 years, and some earlier. Ways to help a child become ready include the following:
18 months: Begin teaching about pee, poop, and how the body works.
21 months: Begin teaching about the potty and toilet.
2 years: Begin using teaching aids.
The bare bottom technique means not wearing any diapers, pull-ups, underwear, or any clothing below the waist. This causes most children to become acutely aware of their body's plumbing. Children innately dislike pee or poop running down their legs. You and your child should stay in the vicinity of the potty chair. This can be in the kitchen or other room without a carpet. A gate may help your child stay on task. During bare bottom times, supervise your child but refrain from all practice runs and most reminders, allowing the child to learn by trial and error with your support.
Create a frequent need to urinate by offering your child lots of her favorite fluids. Have just enough toys and books handy to keep your child playing near the potty chair. Keep the process upbeat with hugs, smiles, and good cheer. You are your child's coach and ally.
There are some children who are resistant to toilet training. Your child is considered resistant if after trying to toilet train your child using the method described above:
If your child is resistant to toilet training, ask your healthcare provider for ideas and information about toilet training resistance.