Differences Between Potty Training a Boy Vs. a Girl

By Maggie McCormick
Boys can sit rather than stand when first learning to use the potty.
Boys can sit rather than stand when first learning to use the potty.

In many ways, potty training boys vs. girls is quite similar. With both, you have to talk up the potty to get them excited, make regular trips and clean up a lot of accidents. Still, there are some notable differences, and if you've already trained one and are about to start the other, keep these differences in mind.


One of the key factors to successful potty training is the child's readiness to start to use the potty. Though all children are different, girls in general may be ready to use the potty earlier than boys. Typically, this isn't necessarily due to a genetic difference with the sexes, but rather that caregivers are more often women, so little girls are more familiar with the mechanics of using the potty, according to AskDrSears.

Standing vs. Sitting

Standing while peeing is the biggest difference in potty training between the sexes. However, it's perfectly normal to start a little boy sitting down. As he gets older, he'll want to give standing up a try. Incorporate a post-pee clean-up as part of the routine. Girls can get jealous of the ability to pee standing up and you may need to let her try at least once to show her that she can't do it. When sitting, both genders should keep their legs slightly open. Boys need to do this to point their penises in the right direction, while girls need to make sure they eliminate all urine.


Typically, men don't wipe after a pee, but it's essential for women. Teach a little girl to wipe from front to back to avoid infection. In the early months, a little boy's penis may not be big enough to get dry from a few shakes, so consider dabbing with some toilet paper. Check that it doesn't get stuck to his skin, though. Both sexes need to wipe after a bowel movement, but in the early years, this should be done by a parent.


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are more common in girls, and are especially more common during potty training, according to MedlinePlus. This occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract, often from improper wiping. Signs of a UTI include foul-smelling urine, high fever, pain while urination and cloudy urine. Talk to your child's doctor if you suspect she has an infection.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.