Oh Happy Day! It’s time to ditch the nappies! Or... is it? Children aren’t “one size fits all” creatures, so you need to confirm that your little one is truly ready to begin the process.

Don’t base the decision on something more arbitrary, such as age. That’s because there is no “perfect age.” A small percentage of children will be fully trained before they are 24 months old, while most children make the leap around their third birthday. Another not-so-small percentage of children won’t be trained until after they are 3-and-a-half.

So set aside your expectations, and let your little one lead the way. Families have more success with potty training if they wait until the children are ready. Like most developmental milestones, you can only watch for potty readiness to emerge, Huggies® Pull Ups® have developed the 8 Signs of Readiness to help with this. These are all signals that your child is starting to be physically and emotionally ready to potty train, if your little one is showing 3 or more of these cues then it’s time to begin.

If there are no signs of potty readiness by age 3, check with your child’s GP. There are many medical issues — plus language and other developmental delays — that can slow down potty training, so do touch base with your doctor.

Heather Wittenberg
Huggies® Pull-Ups® 8 Signs of Potty Training Readiness

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Click on the links below for everything you need to know to prepare for potty training:

Helping Them Prepare
Helping them prepare

Follow these essential tips to help your little one prepare for potty training:

  • Talk to your child about where wee and poo comes from, being careful to choose toileting words you’re comfortable for them to repeat – or even shout! – when they’re away from home.
  • Create an association by acknowledging when they do a wee or poo in their nappy and explaining what has happened and why.
  • Your toddler telling you they’ve done something in their nappy is a first step towards potty training, so give them lots of praise for doing so.
  • Another way to help familiarise them with the process is to look at stories with a potty training theme together.
  • If you are planning to use a potty, buy or borrow one early and put it somewhere where it’s easy to get to and use so that it becomes familiar and normal.
  • Moving on to Huggies® Pull-Ups® Potty Training Pants will help them understand that a change is taking place. Show your little one features like the fade-when-wet graphics, which teach the difference between wet and dry, and let they try them on so they can discover how easy they are to pull up and down.
  • Asking to wear Huggies® Pull-Ups® and being able to pull them up and down on their own are two signs that they're ready potty train – check out our 8 Signs of Readiness to learn more.
Resisting The Pressure To Potty Train
Resisting the pressure to potty train

Maybe you’re getting an earful from your parents about potty training. Mum’s making “suggestions.” Dad is “wondering” why the process is going so slowly. If your parents are putting on the pressure, remember that they potty trained you decades ago. Their memory of how young you were, and how easy the process was, may be a teensy bit rosier than things really were. Perhaps you weren’t actually “completely out of nappies by age 2".

It’s also possible that your parents, in-laws and other loved ones will have strong opinions that run contrary to your own style of parenting. So let’s take a deep breath and gather the facts, so you can calmly tackle any situation with those well-meaning relatives.

Here are the details:

  • Few children potty train by age 2. Wait until you see signs of potty training readiness, then go from there.
  • The research says that some personalities of children are more easily trained when you wait and start the process later, around age 3 to 3-and-a-half.
  • Have a seat! Little boys do best learning to use the potty sitting down first. Work with him on standing up and aiming as the next skill. 
  • One thing at a time is best. If you’re having a new baby, changing schools, moving into a new home, or celebrating a big event — hold off on starting potty training. You’ll do best handling one “big kid” change at a time. 
  • Many kids train very easily, but sometimes potty training a child can take weeks, months, or even years. It’s important to go at your own child’s pace. As long as there are no health concerns, you can sit back and enjoy the journey.
  • If your child is resistant, it’s best to back off and try again later. Sometimes a break of 2-3 weeks helps tremendously.
  • There are biological and developmental reasons some children take longer to stay dry at night. It’s fine to keep using Huggies® Pull-Ups® Night Time if your child needs to, even when she’s potty trained by day.

Handy tip: If you find that relatives, or even nosy neighbours, are putting on the pressure, here’s a fool proof way out of a sticky conversation. “Thanks for the advice, but what I’ve learned is there’s simply no sure fire way to potty train a toddler. Different methods work for different children. I’m sure we’ll get there!”

Top 8 Reasons To Hold Off
Top 10 reasons to hold off on potty training

Like many things in life, potty training is about timing. Sometimes, it’s better to wait. While a child can be at the right developmental stage, and Mum and Dad are ready, too – with supplies lined up in the loo – certain times are just better than others. If a child is already dealing with a lot of other “big kid” changes on top of learning to use the potty, training can become more stressful than necessary for the whole family. Remember: Stabilise the family ship FIRST, and then have a go!

Here are the Top 10 Reasons to hold off on potty training:

  1. Mum is about to give birth to a sibling.
  2. New sibling has just arrived.
  3. Child is moving out of a crib into a “big kid” bed.
  4. Child is transitioning off a bottle.
  5. Child is being weaned from the dummy.
  6. Family is moving into a new home.
  7. Starting with a new childcare provider.
  8. There’s been a death or major illness in the family.
  9. You’ve added a dog, cat, or other pet.
  10. You’re in the midst of celebrating a big event such as Christmas.
The Key To Readiness
In detail: The key to readiness

When are toddlers physically ready?

To begin potty training, your little one should be able to move around independently and pull their Huggies® Pull-Ups® or pants up and down with little or no help. It’s useful if their bowel movements are fairly predictable so that you can choose the best times of day to encourage them to try using the potty. They should also understand what they are feeling when they sense the urge to go so that they can anticipate the need to sit on the potty.

Watch out for behavioural signs like grimacing before a poo or wriggling and hopping from foot to foot when they need to wee. Help them understand that this is their body's way of telling them what is about to happen and that this is when they should sit on the potty.

And emotionally?

They need to be able to imitate your behaviour - i.e. go to the toilet, pull down their clothes and sit - and show an interest in using the toilet. Forcing a reluctant toddler to toilet train is only going to create a battle for everyone and may turn the toilet or potty into an object to be feared.

Some children who are showing signs of readiness like to take themselves off to a quiet corner to poo. This shows an awareness of their bodily functions and their ability to anticipate what’s going to happen.

Ultimately, a child needs to be able to understand that people use the toilet when they want to wee or poo and make the connection that this is something they need to learn to do too.

How about communication?

Finally, it’s important for them to be able to express the need to go to the toilet so that you can help them with what to do next. They also need to be able to follow simple instructions such as 'let's go to the potty'.