How Old When You Potty-trained?

Updated on January 14, 2013
B.G. asks from Manhattan Beach, CA
20 answers

Hello moms =)

My son turned two in September and we have been going potty with him in his toilet for several months, since last summer. He can go, and sometimes tells us when he has to go. He used to be really good at it, and would rarely go in his diaper. The past couple months, though, he isn't as interested and doesn't go in the toilet much anymore. I have tried giving him things on top of the excessive praise when he does go, but he still doesn't want to go much anymore.

Do you think he is too young? Not ready? Did you do the reward system, the no-diaper system, or what?


Forgot to add that we made a big move in September, not sure if that has anything to do with it.

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So What Happened?

Maybe I will just wait a bit... He used to tell me when he had to go, and we did use pull-ups. He rarely tells me now and I usually ask him if he has to go. I will leave the potty out and ask him a few times a day, but I guess I will wait a while until I take it super serious. He still does go in the toilet (pee and poo) but I have to ask him instead of him telling me. I will wait a bit!


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answers from San Francisco on

We trained in the 22 to 26 month range. I never asked them when/if they needed to go, or waited for them to tell me, I just took them, every 30 to 60 minutes for the first several days, gradually stretching it out over time. I was very matter of fact about it, no punishments,no rewards, just lots of praise when they went, and an "oh well, maybe next time" when they didn't.
No diapers, no pull ups, we used thick cotton training pants with covers so they knew when they were wet.
Some people don't think they're really trained until they tell you when they need to go but I say so what? I'd rather take a kid potty several times a day than deal with disgusting diapers. Plus it's healthier for the child. I just don't think a two+ year old needs to sit in his own waste.
Take away the diapers, be consistent and he will get it!

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answers from Washington DC on

Kids are different. There was a 2 yr old little boy at a friend's house yesterday that was fully trained, but my DD didn't fully train til 3.5. If you think he's ready, ditch the diapers and go with underpants. See how that goes. It is not uncommon to have setbacks, especially at times when they are learning other new skills.

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answers from Detroit on

I have a girl instead of a boy, in case that makes a difference, but we didn't train her until 3 years 8 months. Some of it was us dealing with the stress of my mother being ill and then being in hospice care for many months when DD was 2, then finally passing away just before DD's 3rd birthday. And some of it was just DD being super-stubborn and strong-willed, screaming that she was afraid of the potty and refusing to have anything to do with it - despite incentives like candy, stickers, and all that. She was able to do 3 year old preschool in pull-ups and never had any accidents, but I knew 4 year old preschool would be a different story and that physically she was fully capable. So when I had a weekend off from work when I would be home, I just decided that I was done talking about it, the diapers got tossed, and DD got underpants put on her, and that was that. DD flipped out, threw a fit, cried and screamed that she wanted her diapers back, and I held firm and said no way. She was going to have to figure this out and we would just clean up whatever messes she made. We went through several wet panties that day. She got a pull-up at night. The next day she woke up dry, but refused to sit on the potty and try to go. On went the underpants. She freaked out again, and again I stood firm. It was 2 more hours before she started dancing around and realizing that something was about to happen, and I dragged her over to the potty and made her sit on it. She started crying and yelling again, but couldn't hold onto the pee anymore. In it went into the potty, and that was that. She never had a pee accident after that, and never wore a diaper again. She needed to feel what it felt like to be wet and realize that she didn't like it. She still had pull-ups at night, for about a month, but then kept waking up dry, so they quickly got ditched. We rewarded her each time she went, until it became clear that she didn't need it any longer, and I told her she was a big enough girl to just be able to go potty on her own, and not end up messing herself.

Poop was a different story. She was still pretty stubborn about it, went through bouts of being constipated because she was afraid to go and it would hurt, having to do Miralax, etc. She got much better about it the summer before she turned 5 - that took having her sit on the potty twice a day for 10 minutes with my smartphone, to give the poop a chance to come out. She started kindergarten and goes poop at school no problem, wipes herself, and usually has a BM every day. She doesn't need any help or reminding from us- THAT to me is the hallmark of being "potty trained." Being fully independent, or at least needing minimal help (i.e. wiping their bottom well).

It's possible that your son just doesn't care about the rewards, the praise, and pleasing you - some regression at this age is pretty normal. You might have more success if you let him go back to wearing diapers, then try again when he is 3 or 3.5. To me, incentives help, but in the end, it should be about them doing what needs to be done simply because it is what is expected of them - not just when it comes to potty training, but any good behavior you want from them. He should want to use the potty because it is what big boys do, and he wants to feel like he is fully capable of keeping himself clean and managing his own body's needs. The motivation should come from within. And that might be more easily accomplished when he's a little older and more mature. I would rather have my kid in diapers and wait it out until they seem more ready, then have them potty train relatively quickly, than go through what Sherri G.'s friend went through, dragging it out for months and months, always having accidents, but still insisting they are trained.

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answers from St. Louis on

It was always obvious when my kids were ready. The youngest was my second at 20 months and it was a matter of do you want to run to the store for more diapers or go by underwear. She chose underwear, showed her how to wipe and she had it down,

The oldest was my third and I was starting to think he would never be ready at four years.

None of them were ever as easy as my second.

Ready doesn't just include the ability to tell when they need to go and do something about it. Ready includes the willingness to stop what they are doing and go. I think a lot of people ignore that second bit and then don't understand why when they are playing they have accidents.

All four of my kids could do the deed at two years, my boys took till three and a half and four to decide staying dry was worth the five seconds away from an activity.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I did rewards (no charts, no stickers, but instant reward--a lifesavers candy of his choice, individually wrapped. He got to choose which brightly colored fruit color he wanted, and believe me--the choosing is half of the fun for them).

He trained around age two, and was completely trained by 2 1/2.

They do get distracted when they are involved in playing, so it is helpful to remind them from time to time if you notice they haven't been in a while. Also, every time you leave the house to go somewhere, it is really a mom responsibility to make them go before you leave (just make it a habit/rule for car trips). They don't really have the ability to "plan ahead" when you are going somewhere or to think "hey it is easier to do this at home than in a public bathroom somewhere".

Pretty quickly, he forgot about asking for the lifesaver, but he never regressed. Even after dropping the lid on himself when he was about 32 months old. (ouch!--make sure you give him a step stool so he isn't standing at the "perfect" height for a pinch).

ETA: By the way, I didn't sit my son down and say "when you go on the potty, you will get candy." Basically, I just encouraged him to go and when he had success, did the big potty dance thing and offered him a choice of lifesavers. He learned that he would get to choose one afterwards, but I never set it up from the start as a bribe. It was always a nice bonus I was giving him, just part of the celebration ( after hand washing was complete). Eventually, as his "need" for me to acknowledge his potty successes diminished, so did his caring about getting to choose a lifesaver. That, and the fact that his favorite flavors were gone and all that were left in the bag were the ones he didn't like. Lol

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answers from Portland on

When my son was about 3, we put out the potty for him. No interest. I waited until he was three and four months (admittedly, about a month before he started preschool) and then just gave him the choice of cloth underwear or cloth diapers-- no more disposables during the daytime.

It took us about a week to be fully 'trained'. We had a handful of accidents and a month later, he was dry all night too. No rewards necessary. (I generally do not 'do' rewards.) We never used pull-ups either. We stayed home for most of that week, and for a couple weeks following we'd use a disposable diaper for outings, but that was pretty much the one concession I'd make. Public toilets can be scary for some kids, and I didn't want to get into a power struggle.

For you, perhaps your son is ready or not, I don't know. But you DO have to take him out of disposable diapers/pull-ups to get the full experience, otherwise, the goal (staying dry) is already taken care of. I found that my son *hated* getting wet, so staying dry in underwear became important to him and the discomfort of being wet with pee motivated him to respond to his body's cues. So-- cloth underwear or cloth diapers, but he needs to feel wet or there's no reason to use the toilet when he could just as comfortably/conveniently use the disposable diaper or pull-up.

He'll be ready when YOU are ready to deal with repeat accidents, wet floors and some messes. ;)

If you want further information for readiness assessment, this article is helpful:

This is the philosophy I used (toilet learning, which is more child-led and from my experience helping many children use the toilet, preferable to an adult-initiated 'training'-- I highly recommend this rethinking of the task--but unlike the article, we did use disposables earlier; not a huge stumbling block unless you don't take'em out of dispos when it's time to learn) and you can scroll down a bit to the readiness assessment section.

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answers from Grand Forks on

I trained both of my boys when they turned three. We read the books, watched the videos, played with potty Elmo and had the potty out for months before we did the actual training. The day after the third birthday I took away the diapers, and within three days they were fully trained and independant in the bathroom (Except for wiping poo. I wiped poopy bums for quite a while.) My friend started training her son when he was two and insisted he was fully trained, except she had to ask him if he had to go, take him to the bathroom, pull down his pants, put him on the toilet, wipe him, pull up his pants and help him wash his hands. Even doing all that he was having accidents daily. Saving some money on diapers was not worth all of that stress to me. Every single outing and playdate we had ended with her having to clean up a dirty mess. Her son pooped on the play structure at McDonalds once and it ended up smeared all over the place. She had to leave Boo at the Zoo because he peed his pants and soaked his costume. She carried extra clothes every where with her for a year. I babysat once and she told me he was fully trained. He peed on my floor. My kids were not even going through a lot of diapers when they were two years old anyway. I say wait until he is three. Most kids grow up a lot beteen two and three.

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answers from Norfolk on

My son was trained at 3 1/2.
I let day care take the lead on it.
When his whole class was learning, it was easy for him to go along with it and we had no power struggles at home.

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answers from Houston on

I never offficially "trained" my son. I let him start peeing outside while he was still in diapers. We played up the toilet inside so that he thought he had to be a big boy to use it and practiced aim and flow outside all the time. He kept insisting to use the toilet inside so one day we "let" him and he did mess. He was #1 trained by the time he was 2 yrs old. I never had to use a reward system for #1.

#2 however was a different story. He was 3.5 by the time he made #2 in the potty and was pull-up free.

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answers from New York on

My kids had both just turned three (I had one girl, and one boy). Usually, telling you that they have to go (and meaning it) is a late step in the training process. When a just turned 2 tells you they want to use the potty, they are probably just viewing it as playing potty (even if they actually go) - they don't realize it's a fulltime commitment, that you're expected to do it forever.
I never used any bribes or rewards - using the toilet was just expected behavior, not a trick, not a choice. I kept the kids in diapers til it was time for the multi layer cloth training pants with waterproof outer layer. Using cloth teaches them what happens when they pee - they get super, uncomfortably wet. Pullups don't teach kids to use the toilet - they teach kids that these things their parents are calling underwear feel just like a diaper, absorb pee just like a diaper, and if you're not taking them to the toilet consistently - and I mean once every hour throughout the day - they're learning that it's okay to pee and poo in "underwear." If you want him to use the toilet, take him throughout the day, hourly, other than nap and night time. Don't ask if he wants or has to go - using the toilet isn't something he can do just when he feels like it, he is expected to do it. Try cloth diapering or cloth training pants so he learns what it feels like when he pees - and then realizes what it feels like just before that happens. Good luck

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answers from Honolulu on

Boys are often later than girls.

My daughter trained at 2 years old. SHE was ready.
My son, when he was 3 years old. And it was a much slower paced thing with him. But we went according to his, cues and readiness.
But still, even if he got it later in age than my daughter, I didn't worry because, I knew he would get it by Kindergarten! And he did!

Oh, keep in mind, that pooping... OFTEN takes a lot longer to get mastered at. And it is the last stage of learning pottying.

Then: night time dryness is a WHOLE OTHER thing. Separate... from daytime pottying. It often takes until even 7 years old, for a child to be "dry" at night and not need diapers. But this is normal. My daughter was that way. And my son though he is 6, he has nighttime diapers still.
In the meantime, just get waterproof bed pads to put under the child and Huggies nighttime diapers are the best.

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answers from New York on

Let it go for now. He really is not ready. Try again in a few months.

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answers from Dallas on

We began at age three.

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answers from Kansas City on

I potty trained my older two (both boys) at 2y9m. The oldest trained in 1 day. The middle one took 2 days. I know some people would say they were kind of "old", but I wanted it done in one day. I did not want accidents for months...that's just me. My youngest (also a boy) will be 3 in July. I will start him around March.

We just do the underwear and t-shirt thing for a day or two and that's it! They all wore diapers at night for a few months after they were day trained.

good Luck!

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answers from Dallas on

3 - I was intimidated so didn't rush into it. The daycare we switched to (Kindercare - thank you!) when he was turning 3 potty trained. They trained me as they were training him.

Put him in pull-ups so he can practice pulling his pants up and down. I don't think a kid is really "trained" if they can't do the pants up/down themselves. Let him go to the potty with you, with daddy - he can even sit on his when you sit on the big potty. It'll happen. Don't force it - if it becomes a battle, it won't work, because it's HIS body.

Mine was interested because the other kids in his "class" were pottying.

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answers from New York on

I started trying when my son was about 2 1/2, and it was sort of stop and go. He technically could do it, but only if life was all potty, all the time. If he so much as spied a Thomas train across the room, he'd forget all about potty matters. I was advised to step back and give him more time, and I'm so glad he did. I finally trained him when he was 3 1/4, and the whole thing took 1 day. It was just about effortless, and he took total responsibility for it from there on out. So, with boys anyway, I really, really recommend waiting until you've got maturity on your side. If the whole thing is a big production and a lot of effort, then the child is too young.

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answers from Chicago on

Kids all around the world train by 18 months. He isn't too young. What you are experiencing is typical 2 year old busyness. Add to that how distracted 2 year olds are, and their complete inability to control things when stressed, and you get a typical trained 2 year old: about 95-99% trained.

H doesn't want to go because he would rather do something else. I hate having to go to the bathroom too, but it is where pee and poop go, after all. So you have a few choices, you can teach him where pee and poop go and use a variety of techniques to get him to use the toilet, or you can keep on changing dirty diapers and teach him that its OK to pee and poop in your pants.

My kids used the potty consistently at 18 months, and then night and poop trained at 21 months. They both sill had accidents -and oth still do sometimes!- for at least another year, but the occasional soggy pair of undies sure beats diapers, if you ask me !

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answers from New York on

I started having him just sit on the potty and get familiar with it at 2 1/2. When he was 2 years 11 months I got very serious about potty training as he had been telling me he would go in his diaper and demand to be changed. I trained poo in a day and no accidents ever. Pee took a couple weeks to perfect (prob because it was not as disgusting to him). The child really needs to want to in my opinion. And I think small rewards are key in the beginning. Do not let them "run around naked" until they understand what it is you want from them.

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answers from Los Angeles on

We started my son before he was 2 because he was showing signs of wanting to use the toilet. We didn't completely train him until before he was 3. It was very easy for him to use the toilet to poop, but not to pee. In that year we had a 2nd child so it was not always easy for us to be consistent and we didn't feel the need to push it. I also work full-time and the daycare he was in asked for him to brought with underwear on under his pull-up. This was not very helpful for him in the potty-training process because he didn't care if he peed on himself or not. He also would only poop at home in the evenings after I picked him up. Finally, before his 3rd birthday and during my Spring Break, I kept him home with me for a week and dedicated the first few days to really training him. By the time he went back to daycare he was in underwear during the day and pull-ups for nap time. He is now 3 1/2 and we still use pull-ups at bedtime. They are usually dry when he wakes up, but its easier on me to have him wear them than to wash sheets when he does have an accident. Again, he does have accidents here and there (esp during the first few weeks of preschool) and it really doesn't bother him to be wet. He'd rather just play. All kids are different, but I would say just let him to at his own pace for now. For me 3 years old was the limit so I pushed it more before his birthday. I don't see any reason to push your 2 year old right now.

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answers from Boise on

It really depends on the kid.

#1 had some learning disabilities and was around three, his sister #2 started at 2 (11 months apart), when she started he took an interest. She was done a little quicker the him, but both done within a month or two.

Numbers 3 and 4 came to me potty trained.

Number 5 was just after 2, but pooping took a little longer thanks to some constipation during the beginning of training.

Numbers 6 and 7, were just after their second birthdays. Easy peasy.

Number 8 could do it after her second birthday, but she preferred to pee in everything she shouldn't. Official out of diapers at 2 years 5 months. She was my latest, next to the oldest.

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