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Signs Your Child is Not Ready For Potty Training

Signs Your Child is Not Ready For Potty Training

When you’re thinking about starting potty training, the most important thing to do first is to make sure your child is ready. If you miss the signs indicating that your child is not ready for potty training and go ahead and try to force it anyway, it can be a stressful situation for both you and your child and rarely ends in success.

And starting toilet training before your child is ready can also make the process drag on for months or even years.

So how do you know if your child is not ready?

1. Age is One of The Most Important Signs Your Child Is Not Ready For Potty Training

Despite some potty training methods such as ‘Elimination Communication’ claiming otherwise, it’s generally easier to potty train your child once they are at least 2 years of age.

According to John Hopkins, most children don’t have bowel and bladder control until 24-30 months of age. And the average age for potty training is 27 months.

In fact, one study showed that starting potty training earlier than 27 months of age “does not correlate with earlier completion of toilet training, suggesting little benefit in beginning intensive training before 27 months of age in most children”.

For these reasons it’s important to consider your child’s age before starting the process of potty training.

2 year old signs your child is not ready for potty training

2. They’re Unable to Stay Dry For at Least 1-2 Hours at a Time

One of the main signs your child is not ready for potty training is if they aren’t yet capable of waiting 1-2 hours between emptying their bladder.

As mentioned above, this generally happens when they are around two years old.

If you notice that your baby is soiling their diapers more frequently than every 1-2 hours then you should consider waiting before starting potty training.

3. They Aren’t Doing Soft Poo’s

If your child isn’t doing soft form poo’s, it may mean they are constipated. If they’re constipated, you should hold off toilet training until that has been addressed.

Other signs of constipation include:

  • Bowel movements that are hard, dry and difficult to pass
  • Pain while having a bowel movement
  • Less than 3 bowel movements per week
  • Stomach pain
  • Traces of liquid or pasty stool in your child’s underwear — a sign that stool is backed up in the rectum

Attempting to start potty training when your child is experiencing constipation will greatly reduce your chance of success. It may also cause a worsening of their current condition because they may withhold going to the toilet when you try to start toilet training.

4. Your Child Shows no Interest in Using The Toilet

Most children start showing interest in using the toilet when they are ready for toilet training. This may be as simple as asking questions, or taking an interest when you use the toilet.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a high level of excitement or asking specifically to use the toilet themselves.

If your child isn’t showing any interest at all, then it may still be a bit too early to start training them.

toddler showing interest in toilet training

5. They’re Unable to Remove Their Pants and/or Diaper By Themselves

For your child to be able to successfully use the toilet independently they will need to be able to remove their own pants or diaper without your help.

The goal of potty training is toileting independently, so this simple skill is an essential piece of the puzzle if they’re going to be successful.

toddler removing pants for potty training

In Summary

If you’re considering starting toilet training, first make sure your infant isn’t displaying these common signs that indicate your child is not ready for potty training:

  • Their age – it’s recommended you wait until at least 27 months of age before starting
  • They are unable to stay dry for at least 2 hours
  • They aren’t doing soft poo’s (may be constipated)
  • They don’t show any interest in using the toilet
  • They are unable to remove their pants/diaper by themselves

Once you are ready to start, make sure you grab the free Toileting Essentials Guide here, which lists the essential items I recommend to make the toilet training process MUCH easier for you and your child.

And when you do get started, be sure to avoid these common potty training mistakes.

Emma Hubbard

Emma Hubbard

Emma Hubbard is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with over 12 years of clinical experience. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Newcastle. Emma is the founder of Brightest Beginning & writes about all things child development, sleep, feeding, toilet training and more.

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