Cute toy sitting on the potty

Toilet training with your child might seem like a big feat, but if you wait until your child is emotionally and physically ready, the process can be a little easier on both the child and parent. Your toddler should be able to understand what the feeling of needing to use the bathroom means, they should be able to feel the actual urge to go, and they should be able to share with a parent that they need help making it to the toilet. Once it has been established that your toddler can do those things, your child is ready to start potty training! Here are a few toilet training basics to help with the process. 


Instead of categorizing potty training timelines by age, we prefer to talk about potty training timing as a whole concept. Potty training has more to do with physical and behavioral development instead of age. A loose timeline might suggest that children could be ready to start potty training around 18-24 months, but some might not be ready until they are 2.5 or 3 years old. We want to assure parents that there really is no rush in keeping with timelines or guides because starting before your child is ready might do more harm than good in the long run.

Here are a few great questions that the Mayo Clinic suggests asking before starting the potty training process:

  • Can your child walk to and sit on a toilet?
  • Can your child pull down his or her pants and pull them up again?
  • Can your child stay dry for up to two hours?
  • Can your child understand and follow basic directions?
  • Can your child communicate when he or she needs to go?
  • Does your child seem interested in using the toilet or wearing “big-kid” underwear?


If you’ve decided that your child is ready to start potty training, it’s time to come up with a plan. That means finding the right equipment first. We recommend keeping a potty chair in the bathroom and encouraging your child to sit on it. Make sure their feet can fully touch the ground when they sit.

Let them get comfortable with the idea of the potty chair, even if that means letting them sit on it fully clothed at first. Help explain the purpose of the potty by using concepts they understand. When they successfully go to the bathroom, allow them to flush the toilet and show praise.

We also like the idea of keeping a stool by the bathroom sink, so the child can step up and wash their hands after using the restroom. Encouraging them to keep clean hands and teaching them about hygiene is an important part of the process too!


Establishing a schedule when toilet training first starts is important. Always have your child sit on the potty chair and try to go as soon as they wake up in the morning or after a nap. And because repetition is key, we encourage taking your child to the bathroom every 2 hours and having them sit on the potty chair to see if they can go. 

Talk to your child, read a book, or let them look at a picture book on the potty chair if they can’t go right away. If they can’t go, that’s okay too. Just remind them that they did a good job trying and make a visit back to the bathroom to let them try again shortly. 

If you travel with your child while toilet training or plan on spending a longer span of time away from the home, bring the potty chair with you. They will start to understand the repetition and consistency of going in their potty chair.

If you see your child holding their crotch or getting a little squirmy, like they might have to go to the bathroom, try to get them there as quickly as possible to avoid accidents while potty training. But accidents happen, and that’s okay! It’s all part of the process!

For More Information

As a parent, we know that toilet training can seem like a daunting milestone. At HealthPark Pediatrics, we are here to be a resource. If you have questions or concerns about potty training your child, parents in the Raleigh area can call us at (919) 896-7066 for assistance.

At HealthPark Pediatrics, the health and safety of our staff and patients is our top concern. We are taking steps to ensure that you and your child will be safe while visiting our office. This includes using a separate entrance for sick visits, limiting the number of staff and physicians, observing social distancing guidelines, and offering telemedicine visits. Request an appointment online.