In a recent article on the popular ParentingScience.com website, Dr. Gwen Dewer examined the current research available to determine the ideal age to potty train children. The results were inconclusive, as Dewer determined the few studies regarding the optimum age to toilet train were limited and no definitive age could be established and more studies were required. In general, it was determined that starting earlier than later was likely the best option as the myth of early potty training causing psychological damage to the child and there was no research linking positive or negative psychological health to potty training.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it may take up to a couple of years before your child is completely toilet-trained. The AAP says children may show signs of readiness at 18 months, start training at 24 months, and stay dry during the day by 30 to 36 months. Most children will stay dry at night by the time they are 36 to 48 months old.
In her book, The No-Cry Potty Training Solution: the Gentle Way To Say Good-bye to Diapers by: Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2006), author Elizabeth Pamley shares the following facts regarding potty training age and milestones.
- The perfect age to potty train is different for each child as children develop at different rates and ages with most children ready to start from 18 to 32 months and pre-training as early as 10 months.
- A child's biological, and physical, skills and readiness will determine when a child is ready for independent toileting with most between 2 1/2 years of age and 4 years of age.
- From the start of training to toilet independence takes from 3 to 12 months regardless of starting age.
- The age at that a child is potty trained has no correlation to future abilities or intelligence.
- Night-time dryness can only be achieved once the child is physiologically ready.
- Most toddlers urinate every 2 hours for a total of 4 to 8 times per day.
- Children have a regular pattern of bile movements, some having one, two, or even three per day, while others skip a day or two between bile movements.
- 98% of children are daytime toilet trained by the age of 4.
- A parent's readiness to potty train a child and be patient and positive is just as important as a child's readiness to be trained.
Regardless of the expert or source, most experts agree that there is no ideal or perfect age to toilet-train a child. Each child is different physically, physiologically, and psychologically and thus possesses differing levels of readiness when it comes time to potty train. Parents must judge when their child is ready. Various readiness skills are associated with successful training. Remaining bowel-movement-free overnight is the earliest attained skill, occurring around 22 months of age in girls and 25 months in boys. The ability to pull up underwear or training pants is typically the last skill mastered, occurring around 29.5 months of age in girls and 33.5 months in boys. Girls develop most skills earlier than boys. Usually, children do not master all necessary skills until after 24 months of age, although some do as early as 12 months. Considering the time range for skills acquisition, parents may have difficulty judging when a toddler is ready for toilet training. Children whose parents overestimate readiness may face prolonged training or toileting problems. (Source: American Family Physician.
Stanford Medicine Children's Health states your child is ready to start potty training they are able to:
Walk well in order to get to the potty chair
Tell you when there is a need to go to the potty
Control the muscles used for going to the potty
Other signs that your child may be ready for toilet training include:
Asks to have the diaper changed or tells you a bowel movement or urine is coming
Shows discomfort when the diaper is wet or dirty
Enjoys copying what parents or older children do
Follows you into the bathroom to see how the toilet is used
Wants to do things (such as going to the potty) to make parents happy or to get praise
Has dry diapers for at least 2 hours during the day or is dry after naps or overnight
It's important to notice signs of readiness and not to be too eager to start potty training in the absence of any of the above hints that it's time to initiate toilet training. Parents need to remember to be patient and positive to ensure successful toilet training.