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What is the right age to start toilet training?

May 9, 2019

Unfortunately, while there is lots of talk about age when it comes to toilet training, age is not always the best measure when it comes to deciding if your child is ready to give it a go.

If it were only that simple.

Children who are showing typical signs of development in other areas, may be ready to start toilet training, however, it might not always work out in the same timeframe as what you have in mind. If they are showing at least some signs, then have a go – but please be patient.

Common myths

  • My older child was toilet trained by 12 months so I’m expecting the same for my second child. Sorry, sibling behaviour is not an indicator of when toilet training will occur.
  • Mum said I was toilet trained by 18 months so why is it taking my child so much longer? Sorry, toilet learning is not hereditary.
  • Back in the old days kids learned to use the toilet much faster because they weren’t so distracted and could wear nothing all day.
    Sorry, children still take the same time to learn how to use the toilet as they did 20 years ago

So how do you know when it is the right time to start?

Typically your child will be ready to be introduced to using the toilet and foregoing nappies for some part of the day when they:

  • Can walk
  • Have enough balance to sit on the toilet or potty unaided
  • Can communicate when they need to do a wee or a poo
  • Can tell you when they have done a wee or a poo
  • Are able to stick with a task longer than 10 to 20 seconds
  • Are interested in using the toilet

While you don’t have to have all of the above in place, the more boxes you can tick, the more ready your child may be to manage toilet training. You might still have some false starts, and it may still take a while, but your child will be closer to learning the toileting sequence and recognising the sensations that their body is telling them.

Getting started

When you think you and your child are ready to give toilet training a go, you might like to start by encouraging your child to wear underpants for some of the time during the day while they are awake. Your child might like to choose their first pair and encourage them to tell you when they feel wet.

Wearing underpants is encouraged instead of nappies or pullups, as the nappies/pullups can often feel dry after a wee and don’t provide the same physical feedback to your child (side note – wearing disposable nappies as a baby doesn’t delay toilet training).

Need more help?

Mars Clinic has launched a new online program to help parents feel prepared and confident to toilet train their child.

FREE: Download our 'Ready for Launch' Checklist

Is your child ready? Use our free checklist to find out.

  • Easy to follow checklist outlining key signs of readiness
  • Feel confident that your child is ready and know the areas in which they might need extra help