In parts of the world -- India, China and countries of east Africa -- toilet training begins just a few weeks after birth, according to Dr. Gwen Dewar of Parenting Science. The babies are trained by their parents to associate toilet training with a sound the parent makes. When the baby hears the sound, she knows it is time to urinate or have a bowel movement. However, in other parts of the world, including Europe and North America, toilet training usually begins between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. Deciding when to begin the process of toilet training requires an assessment of your child's emotional and physical maturity.
Your child will not have true control of his bladder or bowel movements until after 12 months old, according to the American Association of Pediatrics. Around 18 months, assess his control over these processes. You may observe a dry and clean diaper after he naps. Another sign that helps you know he is ready to start toilet training is his body language. You know when he is about to have a bowel movement or urinate by his body language -- wiggling around for urination or grunting and squatting for a bowel movement. His bowel movements becoming more regular is another sign he is ready to start the toilet training process.
When your child learns to use the toilet, she has achieved another stage of independence. Make sure she is emotionally ready for this step by assessing some emotional behaviors. She doesn't like to be in soiled diapers. She may come to you with a clean diaper after she has urinated or had a bowel movement. Your child wants to use the toilet. She may ask to use the potty like her siblings or parents. These are all signs she is ready for the next step in independence.
Basic Routine Readiness
Refrain from starting the toilet training process until your toddler can accomplish some routine steps. He should be able to walk to the bathroom on his own. He needs to be able to pull his pants up and down. He should also be able to follow easy instructions, according to American Association of Pediatrics. Make the transition smooth for him by purchasing a potty chair. He will be able to situate himself on the chair independently. Provide some special "potty chair" toys or books. Mom and Dad have their books or newspapers next to the toilet. Provide him with the same luxuries.
Times to Delay
Even if your toddler passes these readiness tests, there are some instances when you should not start toilet training. Life-changing events -- a new baby arriving soon, a move to another house or other family crisis -- are reasons to delay toilet training. Let your child adjust to the changes in her life before starting the toilet training process.