When Is the Right Time to Ditch the Diapers? Potty Training Tips

Are you ready for some serious potty training tips?

Potty training children takes up a ridiculous amount of our time as parents.

Whether it’s talking about when we should start training, thinking about how the training is going or wondering if we’re doing everything we can to make the process go faster, we’re all thinking about it when our kids are in diapers.

Case in point: I met up with some mommy friends I hadn’t seen in almost a year.

Despite all of the time that had passed, we still managed to touch on the subject of potty training.

You just can’t escape it!

Be sure to check out even more of my helpful parenting tips, too!

This post contains affiliate links.


Most parents start thinking about potty training when their child is around 18 to 24 months old, but there is no perfect time to begin – it is down to the individual child.

My first son didn’t even think about training until he was three.

And even then, it took two different attempts that lasted months to get it to click.

My second son just woke up one morning and declared he was ready.

It took a little patience but compared to the first one, he was an absolute breeze!

I think so many of us don’t talk about how difficult potty training is because our minds actually block out the pain.

I recall hours sitting on the cold, tiled, bathroom floor reading books to my child with him perched on the toilet seat.

When I asked my mom how she trained both me and my brother, she replied, “One morning I woke up and you were potty trained.”

I have a sneaky suspicion it wasn’t that easy.

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But again, selective memory helps us get through those tough times.


10 Signs Your Child is Ready to Potty Train – Potty Training Tips

1. Your child can stay dry for two hours at a time during the day or is dry after a nap, which shows his bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine.

2. Your child dislikes the feeling of wearing a wet or dirty diaper and wants them changed.

3. Your child shows increasing interest in the bathroom.

4. Your child’s bowel movements are regular and predictable.

5. Your child can pull his pants up and down.

6. Your child shows interest in wearing “big-kid” underwear.

7. Your child can indicate by words, facial expression or body language that he or she is about to go.

8. Your child can follow simple verbal directions.

9. Your child is able to sit and engage in an activity for several minutes without becoming distracted or irritable.

The First-Time Parent's Guide to Potty Training: How to Ditch Diapers Fast (and for Good!)The First-Time Parent’s Guide to Potty Training: How to Ditch Diapers Fast (and for Good!)The First-Time Parent's Guide to Potty Training: How to Ditch Diapers Fast (and for Good!)Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It RightOh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It RightOh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It RightPotty Training in 3 Days: The Step-by-Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty DiapersPotty Training in 3 Days: The Step-by-Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty DiapersPotty Training in 3 Days: The Step-by-Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty DiapersToilet Training in Less Than a DayToilet Training in Less Than a DayToilet Training in Less Than a Day


10. Your child is in a generally cooperative stage, otherwise you’ll just be fighting him to use the potty.

While your child doesn’t have to show all of these signs to be ready to potty train, your child should exhibit a good portion of them before you start.

Think your kiddo is ready to potty train? Read Potty Training Made Easy: Strategies That Really Work. Do you have your own potty training tips to add?

Potty Training books for Kids and Parents | Mommy Evolution


  1. Very informative article! Potty training is such a challenge.

    1. Potty training almost broke me! Thought I’d give some parents tips, too.

  2. I was fortunate with all 4 of my children in that they were able to potty train themselves. I did not have to do the hard work.

    1. Oh my goodness! My son was so impossible I thought I was going to lose it.

  3. I think there is some truth to when kids are ready, they are ready. All of my kids were almost 2 when they were pottytrained but we basically said to each of them (because they were all about 2 years apart and we didn’t want 2 in diapers) that they didn’t make diapers in their size anymore so they were going to have to use underwear and use the potty. And miraculously, it worked!! So I’m thinking there is some truth to the whole thing that kids will do it when they are ready. Although maybe I just got lucky… 🙂

    1. Michelle — I’m going to say you were crazy lucky! I was lucky with my second (who just declared one day he was done with diapers) versus my first one just couldn’t get the hang of it.

    2. My daughter is almost 20 months and aside from having a very intense interest in the bathroom and copying our actions, from sitting on her potty to putting toilet paper between her legs, she does not match any of these things – she cannot pull up and down her pants. She wets her diaper frequently, especially during the night, and unless she is soaked or has had a bowel movement, she doesn’t mind a wet diaper. She doesn’t do anything to indicate the need to use either. Besides “sit down” and “throw it away”, my daughter does not follow commands and likes to test boundaries and go against commands. But my concern is that she’s tall for her age, in the 92 percentile, and is already in size 6 diapers. What if she outgrows these before she’s ready?

        1. The one thing I wouldn’t do is push her before she’s ready…. I can’t tell you how many parents I know that did that — and it didn’t end well. Be patient and just keep following her lead.

  4. This list is great, Jenny – thank for posting … and thanks for hosting the blog hop! I’ve got the enormous challenge of potting training to look forward to with baby number two. My oldest is almost 9 now. I think I banished all memories of the incredibly long period of history that it took me to teach him to use the toilet to the outermost recesses of my mind. I’d rather change 30 diapers a day than potty train!

    1. I would rather change diapers rather than potty train, too! My second was a breeze. But boy my first child was PAINFUL.

  5. My oldest son wasn’t too hard to potty train, but he insisted on standing up like daddy! Okay……. so we did the “sink the cheerios” trick 😉 Then my second son, who admired his big brother, decided to do everything his older brother did. Done. But, when my third son came around – he was a #2 no go. Literally. He would not go on the toilet! He would actually hold his #2 for DAYS and would get sick because he didn’t want to sit on the toilet, and he was 3 years old! The doctor said to feed him popcorn every night and so much fiber wouldn’t give him a choice. Hahaha – it worked!

    1. We did all of the tricks! Cheerios, M&M rewards, fiber. You name it. Now my second — just declared he was ready and did.

    2. My granddaughter is 3and to turn 4 in June she only pee pees on the potty not poopy she tells you she needs a diaper and she goes we all have tried different things like rewarding your big girl now very stuberent any advise

      1. It’s not unusual for children to master going pee first on the potty. Barring any additional issues, I would work on a positive reinforcement chart/program to get her to start using the potty more, as well as reading books about how natural it is. I would also move away from diapers. Cleaning underwear isn’t any fun, but if she’s potty trained with pee, she should be able to train to using the potty for poop. It won’t happen overnight but it should happen.

      2. My daughter just went to underwear full time this week and has been going pee on it regularly for almost 3 months since she turned 3. She is not a regular pooper and we tried a lot of things. We read the potty book for girls on the potty while trying to poop. Gave her a stool for her feet to get her knees up and anytime we saw her pooping in her diaper we carried her to the bathroom (even if kicking and screaming). What ended up working was letting her help make brownies (she loves to help cook) and then she gets a piece of brownie only when she poops on the potty. It motivates her to put in the time so that it will come out. Good luck.

  6. Glad those days are over! Shudder!!!!

    And I totally agree – when they’re ready, they’re ready!

    Happy Wednesday!

  7. My son a month ago started saying he needs to go potty he is 3 years old he was doing great for the past month and now for the past week he has been peeing in his undies and pooping and I have no clue why this sudden change all of a sudden

    1. We saw some of this. I think the idea of going potty is much more exciting and the actual act of going potty is pretty darn scary for little kids. How has it been this week?

  8. Great article! Thanks for linking up at Tell us Tuesday!

    Lauren @ muchadoaboutsomethin.com

    1. Thanks for the kind feedback. And I’m always glad to link up with Tell Us Tuesday.

  9. LOVE THIS! Thank you so much for linking up with Tell Us Tuesday – this post is perfect for us!!

    Preston is showing more interest – but I don’t think his muscles are quite there yet.

    Come back again next week!

    1. Kids often show signs of interest before they’re truly ready for potty training. But letting them run around the house diaper-free to try never hurts.

  10. My little boy is all ready. In fact this morning he just had his first successful time in the toilet. I am very happy.

      1. Always glad to host. I really do have fun reading through everyone’s submissions.

    1. I am so thankful my kids are past this point, too. Boy was it painful!

  11. Jamie @ Love Bakes Good Cakes says:

    Great post! Thanks so much for linking up to All My Bloggy Friends last week – I hope you’ll join us again tomorrow. I look forward to seeing what you’ve been working on this week! 🙂

  12. I’ve spent quite a lot of time gritting my teeth as I KNEW my daughter wasn’t ready before now – even though she’s recently turned three. Somehow everyone (who doesn’t currently have a toddler) seems to think 18 months is a magical age and it just happens then. I much prefer having a list of signs to watch for instead of a timescale!

    Thanks. 🙂

    1. Don’t you just love it when people who don’t have toddlers know EXACTLY what you should be doing? Actually, many kids aren’t ready until the age of three so don’t sweat it.

  13. Great article. I am so glad to be past this stage but an article like this would have been so helpful.

    1. Thanks, Sarah. I’m glad to be past this stage, too. But I thought someone should benefit from my hours of sitting in the bathroom with the kids!

  14. Jennifer Matt says:

    Potty training my first son was hard. I tried at 3 years old but he fought with me and it just wasn’t worth it. He was almost 4 at the time when I decided this was getting ridiculous and he wasn’t going to be able to even fit in diapers, lol.
    On his 4th birthday he decided he wasn’t wearing diapers and that was it, he only had one accident in the middle of the night.

    1. Love it when kids decide they’re ready and just do it, Jennifer! My second one is like that. Potty training him was SO easy.

  15. Thanks for linking up these signs to our Parenting Pin-it Party. I found there was lots of pressure to try and potty train early but I’m glad I put my foot down and waited until I know the boys were ready as it seemed to go much more smoothly than my brief early attempts.

    1. People do pressure potty training on to parents (which drove me crazy). We waited until the timing was right with my second one. Lesson learned.

  16. My son practically potty trained himself at 18 months – I have no idea what I did right though – wish I did. I think he just has a strong bladder (and so stays dry at night) and enjoyed nappy free time so much 😉 I’m sure my next child will not be such a breeze 😉

    Thanks for linking up with the Tuesday Baby Link-Up! 🙂 Please come back on Tuesday to see if you were featured 🙂

    1. Christine — That’s madness! (And I’m a bit jealous.) My first one went months and months. Ah well. that’s the way it works out some times.

  17. Hi Jenny,

    Thank you for these great tips. We are featuring your post at Pin It Monday Hop later today. Hope you could stop by when you get the chance. See you.


  18. Nthabi Seefane says:

    Soon after my baby’s 1st B-day I introduced her to pull up diapers. I will take her to the bathroom when I needed to use it & that made it easy 4 her 2 ditch d diaper B4 her 2nd B-day. We’re not using d diaper @ all both during the day & night.

  19. Maria Iemma says:

    I have two boys and a girl and the boys were so much harder to potty train. I am sure that mom’s that are currently thinking about starting the training will appreciate your fantastic tips.

    1. Thanks, Maria. There were MANY days when I wondered if my boys would ever get potty trained.

  20. I’ve found that my daughter 20 months, and my first and only baby is very intelligent when it comes to copying everything we do, mimicking, and she is very observant but she still only says 10 words we can understand, it’s like she’s too busy listening and working through things to want to have a back and forth conversation. She was also late to walk at 15 months, even though he muscles have been strong since birth and she had been holding onto objects and standing up for 4 or 5 months before walking…with babies that are too busy observing and mentally learning to focus on actually doing something I think before 2 might be too early. My mom said with me and my brother, we were in a daycare where we were sectioned off by age, so all the other kids were doing it and they really trained us there more so than at home.

    1. Age 2 really is early. I don’t know any moms that had kids potty trained by two. Some time after that kids start to get interested. My oldest son wasn’t potty trained until 3 and half. And my other one was right at three.

  21. Awesome tips! Definitely one of the better articles I’ve read.
    My daughter will be 3 this June. We made a few attempts before her brother arrived in November but didn’t work. I’m now back trying again with her this weekend and it seems to get better each time. It’s frustrating though and my fiance keeps telling me, just as long as she’s not 5 and still trying to train.

    1. Don’t worry… she won’t be 5 and still trying to train. But pushing a kid to potty train before they’re ready just spells disaster. Good luck!

  22. I have 2 girls and a boy. The girls were very different with potty training. The oldest took 3 days for daytime and a week and a half for night time at 2 years 2 weeks old. The second was 2 years and 8 months and it took 5 days (it was the second effort). I thought the second was late and much more difficult to train because she didn’t seem to understand about pooping in the potty. I tried everything with her that I did with the oldest and nothing worked. She just had to decide on her own that it was something she wanted to do. The things that really worked for the oldest girl were keeping a potty where she could easily reach it, rewarding with stickers, if she pooped or peed anywhere other than the potty, I still put her on it and told her that that is where we do that so that she would make a connection between doing her business and sitting on the potty. I also praised her lots each time she made it on time and keep a potty and accident journal so I could learn about how often, what times (especially after eating and drinking) and where she peed and pooped. I also didn’t give her anything to drink an hour before bed and very importantly, didn’t put a diaper on her when it was decided that she was ready to potty train. Otherwise she would think that sometimes it was ok to go in her pants and other times it wasn’t. She responded really well to this consistency! Now my little boy is 19 months old and I’m wondering how to do it with him since training boys is harder (it seems).

    1. Thanks for adding in your own experiences for potty training your kiddos. More tips are always helpful to other parents!

  23. Great set of pointers, especially if you’re a first time parent! I can remember being totally at sea with my first and ended up leaving for much longer than necessary. There are so many different signs and being more aware would have definitely helped!

    1. Most certainly! I also hear of parents in a rush to getting their kids potty trained, push it and then have a harder time from the kids down the road with getting trained. It’s a tough balance to figure out when a kid is ready!

  24. What great tips! My daughter is 17 months, so I have a feeling I will be in the midst of potty training soon enough. Thanks for joining the Family Joy Link Party!

    1. You never know when your daughter will be ready… my biggest piece of advice is don’t push her until she shows the signs that she’s ready. Good luck!

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