Time Frame for Potty Training

By Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Potty training is serious business but a sense of humor, positive attitude and a heaping helping of patience will make the process less taxing for you and your tot. Successful potty training depends on physical and emotional readiness rather than a specific age. Even though many toddlers become interested in using the toilet between ages 2 and 2 1/2, some aren't ready to take the plunge until they're a little older. And it typically takes three to six months for a child to get toilet training down pat, according to University of Michigan Health System, or UMHS, website.

Signs Your Tot Is Ready

Growing curiosity about the toilet or potty chair, the ability to follow simple directions and being able to stay dry for at least two hours during the day are positive indicators that your little one is probably ready to begin the training process. Craving independence, a desire to wear underwear, complaining about wet or soiled diapers and knowing how to pull her pants up and down are also signals that it's time to give potty training a go. Your tot might also even tell you that she has to use the toilet.

The Training Process

Make sure that your tot feels at ease and in control when he begins potty training. Using a potty chair can make your little one feel safer than using a toilet because he can keep his feet firmly planted on the floor. However, some tykes like using a child seat that is fastened to the adult toilet. Encourage your trainee to practice sitting on the potty chair. Place the chair in the living or play area of your home at the onset of training so it's nearby and less threatening to your toddler. Holding the genital area, squatting and squirming are good indicators that it's time to make a beeline to the potty seat. Little boys can learn to urinate sitting down or standing up. Let your little guy try both ways to see what he likes best. If he chooses to sit, he can switch to standing once he's a bit older. If you have a little girl, be sure to teach her to wipe her genital area from front to back so she doesn't transport rectal germs to the bladder or vagina.

Additional Tips

Shower your child with praise for sitting on the potty chair or toilet, even if she doesn't go, advises the UMHS website. As a general rule, encourage your tot to sit on the toilet or training chair after meals and before going to bed. Don't make your child sit on the potty seat if she clearly doesn't want to do it. Forcing compliance can lead to hostility and resistance and only delay the training process. Once you’re reasonably convinced that your tot is well on her way to toilet training, making the transition from diapers to underwear or training pants can spur her on to keep using the toilet.


While you're likely to breathe a sigh of relief once your child is using the toilet regularly, don't let accidents rain on your parade. Daytime accidents are perfectly normal and bound to happen occasionally. Checking in with your child throughout the day to see if he needs to go potty can help prevent daytime accidents. They typically subside about six months after training is complete, according to HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Nighttime wetting is a different story; it might persist off and on until around age 5.

About the Author

Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.