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Potty Training Readiness

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Potty training is a significant developmental milestone that may take weeks or months and may require a potty training schedule. There is no potty training age; instead, there are signs of potty training readiness parents can look for before beginning. Most children will begin displaying signs of readiness between two and three years old; however, some children might not be ready until after their third birthday. Once your child is ready, using a potty tracker is an excellent way to ensure they visit the toilet regularly.

Several potty training methods work, and what works best for you and your child will depend on your family structure, temperament, and developmental readiness. 

Because every child is unique, we’ve covered different toilet training methods, signs of readiness, and tips and tricks to help you and your child!

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Start your child’s potty training journey with Baby Daybook! Easily track bathroom visits, gain insights into your child’s habits, and receive helpful reminders. Better understand your child’s needs and prevent accidents without added pressure.

Signs of Readiness

Most children begin showing interest in using the toilet between two and three and will display signs of readiness. Your child does not need to show all the following signs, but an interest in the potty and the ability to pull their pants up and down independently are crucial skills before potty training.

When your child begins doing several behaviors below, they are probably ready to start toilet training!

  • They are independently walking to the toilet
  • Able to understand and follow simple directions
  • They can pull their pants down and up independently
  • Shows discomfort in a wet or dirty diaper, pulling at it or asking to be changed 
  • Shows an interest in sitting on the potty 
  • They are interested in big kid underwear
  • They indicate a need to pee or poop
  • They can stay dry for two hours or more

Use the Baby Daybook app to track your child’s developmental milestones and all signs of potty training readiness!

The Baby Daybook Potty Tracker is an app that can help you keep track of all your child's daily activities while potty or toilet training.
The Baby Daybook app helps you keep track of all your child’s activities, including potty times

Potty Training Age

You’ve probably heard stories about “Little Betsy,” who was potty trained at 16 months old, and are wondering why your kid still needs a diaper at two and a half. But don’t worry, the average child potty trains between two and three and a half; children with developmental delays may take a little longer. 

Most children younger than 18 months old do not possess the developmental skills, physically or mentally, to use the toilet independently. Research has shown that early potty training, when a child is not developmentally ready, can lead to the process taking longer and children holding in their poop and pee, causing medical issues. That’s why paying attention to the signs of readiness is more beneficial than your child’s age. 

You might feel peer pressure from friends and family, or you may be faced with a potty training deadline from your child’s preschool or childcare center. Unfortunately, many childcare centers and preschools require a child to be potty trained to attend the three—and four-year-old classrooms. 

This requirement usually stems from lower teacher-to-child ratios in older classrooms, where teachers have fewer hands to help with accidents or diaper changes. However, it is not developmentally appropriate.

Don’t allow anyone else to pressure you or your child into potty training before they’re ready.

The good news is that several different potty training methods exist, so you can choose what works best for you!

Potty Training Methods

A quick online search will lead you to dozens of articles on potty training and different methods. We chose the four most common and effective methods and compiled the highlights of each method along with some tips!

Child-led Potty Training

Child-led potty training is the method most pediatricians, and early child experts recommend. It means watching for signs of readiness and following your child’s cues. 

Child-led training may take longer than other methods, but it is the most kid-friendly and developmentally appropriate potty training method. 

You can use the Baby Daybook’s Potty tracker; instead of logging diaper changes, log trips to the bathroom, if they went, and if they peed or pooped, and any notes.

How it works: Child-led training works best between the ages of 2 and 3 and requires patience and time. Parents begin discussing toilet training early, around 18 months, by reading books and watching videos about the potty, bringing a child-friendly potty into the house, and allowing children to watch same-sex parents use the bathroom to see how it is done!

The goal is to allow the child’s natural interest to lead to potty training. Once your child begins sitting on the potty and occasionally using it, create a potty training schedule to emphasize regular trips to the bathroom. 

3-Day Potty Training

The 3-day method is perfect for parents who want to quickly potty-train their child for personal reasons or a school deadline. It can be very effective but doesn’t work for every child. It also requires parents to clear their calendar for a 3-day weekend and prepare for A LOT of accidents. 

How it works: Plan ahead and choose your three days in advance. Many parents pick holiday weekends like Memorial Day, the 4th of July, or Labor Day when they will have off work and both parents are home. You will need a potty chair or attachable child-size seat for your toilet, 20-30 pairs of underwear, lots of liquids, and high-fiber snacks to help keep your child hydrated and regular. It is also recommended to have small prizes like stickers or toys from the $1 store to reward your child when they successfully use the toilet. 

Avoid using food or treats as rewards, which can establish an unhealthy relationship with food. 

On day one, throw out all your child’s old diapers (or better yet, donate them to a new baby who needs them!). Donating them to a baby will reinforce to your child that they are a big kid now who uses the potty. Dress your child in only a T-shirt and underwear (socks, too, if they prefer).

Baby Daybook Potty Tracker can help with potty training. Log potty trips, take notes, identify patterns of the most frequent times a child goes, and set reminders to remind at specific times.
The Potty tracker in the Baby Daybook app helps track potty or toilet training data

Be patient and prepared for lots of accidents. Use a potty training schedule to encourage your child to take regular bathroom breaks, but don’t force them, and track each trip to the bathroom and accident with the Baby Daybook app. 

Elimination Communication

Celebrities like Myaim Balik from The Big Bang Theory and Rumor Willis from Sorority Row have discussed using elimination communication (EC) with their infants. EC is an early potty training technique you start during infancy. EC is usually diaper-free, but some parents use diapers as a backup. The method required monitoring your baby for signs they need to go. EC is quite common in countries where disposable diapers aren’t readily available.

How it works: Babies have signals or cues they are about to eliminate their bowels or bladder. They usually grunt, scrunch their face, or strain. The goal of elimination communication is for parents to watch for these signals and then hold their baby over the toilet, sink, or bowl instead of using a diaper. EC requires using a potty tracker and spending a lot of time getting to know your baby’s cues and schedule. 

Parent-led Potty Training

While parent-led training remains a common approach, it can be the least successful and developmentally inappropriate potty training method since it prioritizes adult needs over the child’s. Parent-led training can backfire if parents or caregivers push a child to use the potty before they are ready, resulting in a long and drawn-out process. 

How it works: Parents or caregivers introduce the idea of using the potty, ideally after they’ve noticed signs of readiness. Parents use regular reminders to encourage their children to use the bathroom and implement a strict potty training schedule. For example, using the bathroom every two hours even if the child indicates they don’t need to go or using the potty before or after every meal and snack. 

Potty Training Dos and Don’ts


  • Encourage your child to use the potty
  • Remind them regularly that it is time for a potty break
  • Encourage proper hygiene with hand washing
  • Help them wipe as needed
  • Encourage them to pull their own underwear or pull-ups up and down
  • Offer lots of praise and positive reinforcement for trying to use the bathroom or successfully using the toilet
  • Dress them simply in easy-to-remove clothing (leggings, sweatpants, simple dresses)
  • Make it fun, engaging, and low-stress
  • Stock up on supplies 
  • Use a potty tracker for regular bathroom reminders


  • Ever punish a child for an accident or make them feel bad
  • Don’t force your child to enter the bathroom or sit on a toilet
  • Use food as a reward
  • Dress them in complicated outfits that are hard to remove (no tights, fancy dresses, overalls, or jeans with zippers and buttons)
  • Expect miracles or overnight success


Potty training is a process that takes days, even weeks. Accidents will occasionally occur even if your child successfully trains with the 3-day method. Be aware that nighttime training may take longer because of physical development; some children may still need pull-ups at night until they are seven or eight years old. Potty training is often viewed as stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Watch for signs of readiness from your child, create a potty training schedule, and track how often they poop and pee using the Baby Daybook tracker so you’re prepared ahead of time, and use lots of positive reinforcement to encourage the use of the toilet!

Download now!
Start your child’s potty training journey with Baby Daybook! Easily track bathroom visits, gain insights into your child’s habits, and receive helpful reminders. Better understand your child’s needs and prevent accidents without added pressure.


Note: Our writers strive to maintain accuracy and quality in all content produced. However, it’s important to note that the information provided on our blog should not be considered professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. It’s highly recommended to consult a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns or questions.

Article by
L. Elizabeth Forry
L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with fifteen years of classroom teaching experience. She holds a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theater, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She has taught children in Japan, Washington D.C., Chicago, and suburban Maryland. She is trained as a reading therapist, has a TEFL certification, and has done extensive work with children regarding mental health, social-emotional development, and gender development. She has written curricula for children and educators and has led training sessions for parents and educators on various topics on early childhood development. She is the mother of two boys and resides outside Annapolis, Maryland.
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