Parenting Basics

Ready for Potty?

June 07 , 2016
Sirsa Qursha
Sirsa A. Qursha’s background is in Child Development & Parent Education....More

Our Comprehensive Guide to Toilet Training  To many, the process of potty training can be daunting and many moms feel overwhelmed by the process. 


This article offers some important developmental aspects to the process. It also highlights the fact that there is no one way to tackle potty training. In addition to the scientific information provided, we included our top 10 tips from other moms who have gone through the experience; as we know here at 360Moms, it’s always helpful to hear from those who have been in your shoes!  

Remember, it’s a process! It will take time and there WILL be accidents

Readiness matters! Almost every article and mama out there states that knowing when your child is ready is key. Think about it, how can you expect a child to use the potty if he’s scared or that he’s ready to go if he can’t communicate it yet?  

Biology matters! Most children can’t control their bowel and bladder movements before 18 months; so make sure your child is physically able before attempting potty use. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that most children start showing an interest between 1.5-2 years but other children won’t be ready until about 2.5 years.  

Emotions matter! The emotional readiness of a child varies from one child to the other. Remember, potty training is a huge change for children and reflects an important transition towards independence. Parents should also keep in mind that huge changes may lead to anxiety in some children. Be patient and look out for signs that your tot is ready to take this challenge on!


So how do I know that my child ready? A parent might wonder what these “magical” signs of potty use readiness are. Here are some of my important milestones that are linked to potty training. Keep a look out for when your child:  

  1. Has physical abilities that assist in using the potty- they can walk, they can get on and off the potty and might even be able to pull pants off
  2. Realizes that he is making pee-pee or pooping! Some kids might squat down, go to the other room or find a corner to do their deed. Some kids even state “there’s a kaka now”
  3. Is dry for two hours at a time or after nap time.
  4. Has basic communication skills (can follow simple instructions)
  5. Can copy your own toileting behavior.
  6. Declares she’s ready for potty use, asks to use the big potty, and gets bothered by a soiled diaper. These are all great signs that they are ready to move on to this new stage!

    Starting out with Potty Training:

  1. Read up on the methods, there are different ones. Read below to find out what works for you.
  2. Let your child choose whether she wants to use the potty or a diaper.
  3. Set up the environment! Buy a potty, a seat cover and a stool for hand washing.
  4. Make a commitment to no punishment in the case accidents happen.
  5. Praise trials as well as accomplishments. On the other hand, some experts say to also avoid too much praise- make it matter of fact, as it may place pressure on some children to “perform successfully.” Knowing your child’s temperament is key in this instance.
  6. Allow your child to use the potty at his own pace.


Patience is key. You need to know your child is learning a new skill and they need your support as they take this new task on.  

Potty Training:  3 Different Ways!  There are many different forms of potty training out there; here we include the “professional methods” that have worked for many parents that you can follow in these simple steps[1]:

  1. Child Oriented Method:
  • Starts at around 18 months
  • Introduce the potty as the child’s chair in comparison to the adult toilet
  • Have the child sit in the potty even when fully clothed; allow the child to leave the potty on her own
  • After about 2 weeks, remove the diaper and have the child sit on the potty. It’s not important if the child actually “goes” in the potty
  • As the child starts becoming more comfortable with the potty, allow them to poop in their diaper then have the child accompany you as you empty the poop in the potty stating that “this is where poop goes”
  • If they understand the concept, allow your child to use the potty a few times throughout the day
  • Start removing diapers and pants for short periods and encourage your child to use it. You can give reminders as well as allow for the child to use it on his own pace
  • If your child is making progress, move on to training pants and teach the child how to take them on and off

Tip: don’t train for nap time and nighttime at the same time as day training    

  1. Sears Method:
  • Make sure your child is ready (see above)
  • Get your things ready such as a chair, training pants and potty training dolls
  • Use the dolls to lead the child
  • Have the child observe your own toileting behaviors
  • Involve your child in picking the chair, and have him sit on it
  • Observe when your child squats down or makes a grunt noise when making a poop or pulls at diaper when its soiled
  • When you catch your child making the “pooping noises” offer a prompt to use the potty
  • Sears also recommends you write down when your child needs to use the potty; maybe it’s right after breakfast. If so put her on the potty each time and use books and toys to encourage her to stay. If there isn’t a pattern then put your tot on every 2 hours
  • Even if they go in the diaper, put the contents into the potty
  • Don’t put too much pressure on your child
  • Never punish for accident

Tip: Dr. Sears also recommends using a footrest for kids to rest their feet on, to prevent tightening of rectal muscles when legs dangle    

  1. Spock’s Method:
  • Encourage child to use bathroom with other family members
  • Teach your child to wash their hands after they are done
  • Talk to your child in matter of fact way explaining what you are doing
  • Get the child to use the potty chair, fully clothed or not
  • Suggest that the child uses it, and allow your child to leave the potty as she pleases.
  • Again, if she does poop in the diaper then transfer it to the potty and say “this is where you will do it soon” this methods states specifically not to flush any contents in the toilet in front of the child
  • Once interest is established, take the child 2-3 times a day and praise for dry periods
  • As child becomes more comfortable, leave the potty close by and teach the child that he can use it by himself
  • Give occasional reminders
  • If the child is resistant or has accidents, you can put the diaper back on
  • Do not punish for accidents
  • Once control is achieved move on to wiping and hand washing

  The times to Avoid Potty Training: As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid potty training if your family/child is going through a big change. As stated previously, too much change can be overwhelming for children. So, it’s best to avoid potty training if your family is:

  • Expecting or just had a new baby
  • Moving houses
  • Experiencing changes in child care (switching nannies or nurseries)
  • Going through an emotionally tolling event such as a death or sickness
  • Finally, avoid potty training if you’re moving your child to a big girl/boy bed

[1] Obtained from different sources