Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Toilet Readiness Training


  • Readiness training means preparing your child for later potty training. It increases his or her chances of success.
  • Readiness training involves concepts and skills you teach your child. This can start at 18 months of age or earlier.

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About This Topic

Toilet Readiness Training

  • You can help your child become ready to potty train by teaching him some skills. You've taught your child other skills like getting dressed or using a spoon. Toilet training readiness is no different.
  • Readiness training can easily happen every day as part of your normal routines.
  • Start your teaching at 18 months or earlier. Don't wait until age 3.
  • All children can be made ready for toilet training by 3 years and most by 2 1/2 years. Many can be ready by 2 years and some even younger.
  • Don't begin real toilet training until your child is clearly ready. Readiness doesn't just happen.

After Care Advice

At 18 Months - Begin Teaching about Pee, Poop and How the Body Works:
  • Teach the vocabulary (pee, poop, potty, clean, messy, etc.). Use these words often.
  • Clarify that everyone makes pee and poop.
  • Point out when dogs or other animals are going pee or poop.
  • Clarify the body's signals when you observe them. When he paces, passes gas, or pulls at his pants, explain this to him. Tell him that "the poop (or pee) wants to come out".
  • Do not refer to poop as dirty or yucky stuff.
  • Make changing diapers pleasant for your child
  • Teach your child to come to you whenever he is wet or soiled.
By 21 Months - Begin Teaching about the Potty and Toilet:
  • Buy your child a potty chair and let him play with it.
  • After a few days, put his potty chair in the bathroom.
  • Teach that the toilet and potty chair are a special place. It is where everyone puts their pee and poop.
  • Demonstrate by dumping poop from diapers into the toilet.
  • Portray using the toilet and potty chair as a privilege.
  • Have him observe you and toilet-trained children using the potty chair or toilet. Prevent confusion by having Dad and older brother sit down when they pass urine.
  • Allow him to sit on the potty chair when others use the toilet.
  • Don't allow sitting on it in diapers or pull-ups. Teach that when sitting on the potty, we take off our underwear (bare-bottom). This may take some extra encouragement.
By 2 Years - Begin using Teaching Aids:
  • Read toilet learning books and watch toilet learning videos.
  • Have your child pretend to train a doll or stuffed animal on the potty chair.
  • Potty Duck is a toy that can make potty training fun and faster. See www.pottyduck.com
  • Present underwear as a privilege. Buy special underwear. Let your child be involved in picking them out. Keep it in a place where the child can see it.
Your Child is Ready to Start Real Toilet Training If:
  • Your child can recognize the sensation of a full bladder and full rectum
  • Your child knows what the potty is for
  • Your child likes to sit on his potty chair
  • Your child is cooperative with verbal requests
  • Now it's time to start real toilet training. Do potty sits (practice runs) whenever you think your child might need to go. Be sure to make it fun. For details, see the handout, "Toilet Training: How to Start".

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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