Thu 10, Feb 2022
When to start toilet training your child can be a challenging decision for parents. Family and friends are often very keen to give advice. As a parent, you know your child best and what works for your family situation. It might be helpful to understand what the signs of readiness for toilet training are. This may help you decide when it might be a good time to start your child’s toilet training journey.
A research review on when to start toilet training and the signs of toilet training readiness, found that there are 21 signs of readiness for toilet training. These signs start to be developed from 1 ½ months of age (ability to initiate behaviour) through to 36 months of age, when most of the 21 signs are usually fully developed.
Look for the signs of readiness, as listed below, which may help guide when to start toilet training your child. Remember a child doesn’t need to have all the signs of readiness. If your child can stay dry for 1 ½ - 2 hours, knows the difference between being wet and dry or asks to go nappy free, and can follow simple commands, you are probably already well on your way. Remember to expect accidents and have a mop and bucket ready at hand. It is also okay to take a break if you or your child need it or require professional support.
The 21 Signs of Readiness for Toilet Training
- Can initiate behaviour
- Can sit stably without help
- Can walk without help
- Can pick up small objects
- Can say ‘no’ as a sign of independence
- Has voluntary control of bladder and bowel function
- Can respond to direction and follow simple commands
- Can express the need to pass urine or a bowel motion or has wet/soiled self by signs or words
- Likes to put things in containers
- Is aware of bladder sensations and the need to use the toilet
- Understands toilet related words and can talk for themselves
- Is interested and wants to be involved in toilet training
- Has a bigger bladder capacity
- Wants to do complete tasks independently and is proud of this
- Asks to use the toilet
- Wants to be clean and is upset if wet/soiled
- Wants to wear grown up clothes
- Can pull clothes up and down
- Does not use bowels overnight
- Starts to put things where they belong
- Can sit still on the toilet for 5-10 minutes
You can use this list of toilet training readiness signs to think about which skills your child has developed or is developing. Being able to control your bladder and bowels and using the toilet are complex things to do. Don’t forget to give yourself and your child the time and energy you all need when embarking on their toilet training journey.
Once your child is toilet trained, you can enjoy the positive effects this will have on them socially and on their health. It will also have a financial benefit plus be positive for the environment. Please call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 to speak confidentially to a Nurse Continence Specialist if you would like individual advice on toilet training.