When Do They Learn How to Wipe Their Own Butt?

Updated on May 08, 2012
R.S. asks from Jackson, NJ
25 answers

Literally, I posted this question and did not get a single response!! Not one ... :(

So I waited, figuring that time would answer this question for me, but I am realizing, a full year later, I am still in the same situaton as I was before, pretty much, so, I am cutting, pasting, and I ask again....

Now that my toddler has been potty trained, day and night, pee and poop, for almost a year now (actually, two), when will he learn to wipe his bottom after pooping? I still use a baby wipe on him (well, sometimes, dry tissue too). I figured with time he would eventually catch on an want to wipe himself one day, but this has not happened (actually, now that it has been a year, he tries to wipe sometimes, but often leaves a smeary mess, ew. Is there a better way??). Now what do I do? Is it the right time to teach him, and how do I do it without the process being messy (poop all over his hands and what not)? He is 3 1/2 now (he is actually 4 now).


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So What Happened?

Thanks for the great answers! Luckily, I have never had my son "ask" for me to wipe...either I just jump in a do it and he may, or may not, grab the tissue from me and insist on doing it himself. But, many times he will leave the bathroom without bothering to wipe and I have to make him go back in and do it, in which case he finds something else to do in there, like playing with the soap, rather than wiping.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My son was trained when he was 25 months old. He always wiped but that basically meant he took a swipe towards his butt with a wipe. He did not become actually effective at it until he was a bit over 4. We were a bit worried about it because he started a Montessori program where the kids were expected to be fully trained and bathroom independent at that age. We switched from wipes to just tp when he was about 5.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

They can "do" it a lot sooner than they can do it well.
Totally without supervision and/or someone "batting clean-up"? I'd say 5 is a good bet.

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answers from New York on

Ha! My 5YO son has been trained for 2 years now... but STILL asks me to wipe him. I think it's just kid-laziness now and then. I've gotten him those Kandoo wipes and left them on the back of the toilet, and he'll use them, I'd say, about 75% of the time.

Related question: When on earth will he start closing the bathroom door to poop?! ;)

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answers from New York on

I'm sorry but my 6 year old would still have me do it if I let him. Around 4.5 or so I said you have to try yourself first I will no longer do it for you (then I helped if needed). We use wet wipes still. I had to teach him to wipe until the wipe or paper is clean, then you know you are done. I also had to remind him that wet wipes must go in the trash or diaper champ and can't be flushed. And of course there is a limit to how much paper can be flushed at once.

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answers from Dover on

My kids "mastered" it in their 4's. Meaning, they tried and often failed. It helped a ton to get the charmin flushable wipes. It was way more successful that toilet paper and they could flush them down.

When he asks for help go in and tell him you will help him, but you want him to try first. If he still needs to wipe more, have him wipe again and so on and so forth until he his completely clean. Do this about 5 - 10 times and then when he calls you in to wipe him tell him he knows how and to do it and then you will check. When he does well, give him a little treat. Doesn't have to be candy. Can be anything that would make him smile. Praise him like he painted the ceiling of the Cistine Chapel.

Hope this helps.

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answers from New York on

My son poop trained right when he turned 3 but did not start wiping until he was almost 4. He likes to wipe himself but I prefer to do it or at least check so he doesn't have irritation. I think my brother was at least 5 before he wiped himself!


answers from Austin on

Sorry, the first time you asked, I honestly could not remember so I did not answer. I asked my husband and he says he does not remember eaithers, so it must not have been a problem. I do remember telling her to get 4 pieces of paper and wipe, look at it and if she needed more, to place that in the potty and get 4 more. But I do not recall how long it took for her to really wipe totally on her own.

I will agree that our daughter was in daycare at the time she finally potty trained. Watching all of the classmates go potty on the little potties all lined up.. she finally "got it" and put it together what was going on.
She trained in about 2 days.

Now believe me when I tell you, I tried and tried off and on 3 times to train her.. and was not getting anywhere when I decided to wait and let her lead the way.



answers from New York on

One of the best parenting milestones for me was when I didn't have to hear the "I'M DONE" being shouted from the bathroom. My daughter was much easier than my son. He didn't start on his own until 4 1/2 (at the earliest - and I'm honestly not 100% sure it was even then). We used Cottonelle wipes up until last year (he's 7 now). I'd apparently ran out of them at one point and he just started using the toilet paper instead. Good luck!



answers from Albany on

Part of it is arm length and coordination. My older son was going into Kindergarten (so over 5) before I stopped "checking" regularly. I made him do it himself, then wipe one more time, and then I'd "check" using a wipe.


answers from San Francisco on

My daughter could wipe her own butt when her arms grew long enough for her to reach back there and clean properly. When she was nearly five is when she was using wet wipes on her own butt. We have a garbage near the toilet for the cheap non-flushable wipes and she knows not to flush the wipes. For a while I would give a follow up wipe to make sure she got everything and when my follow up wipes were coming up clean all the time, I left her to it. I haven't wiped my nearly six year old in almost a year.

Except when she got the flu. She was so miserable I wasn't going to argue when she was sobbing and leaning over to be wiped. I know what it's like to feel terrible like that.



answers from Denver on

Let me know when you figure this out! Ha! My son is 4 and I am still doing the dirty work too!



answers from Raleigh on

My first daughter, fully trained just after turning 3, started doing ALL wiping once she turned 5 and she was happy to do it. My second daughter's
5th birthday came and went and she was still refusing to do it, always begging me to wipe. I laid down the law at her 6th bday, saying she could walk around with a poopy/stinky bum for all I care! (I DID care, but she did t know that). She's now 7 1/2 and will still ask me when she has diarrhea, but my older one never asked me a day after turning 5.

I hope you have better luck and he takes over before 5....but be prepared to be beckoned to the bathroom for a bit longer! :)



answers from New York on

Hi there - I went through the same exact thing. The good news is he is 14 now and I no longer do it for him :). My son was trained between 3 and 4 and I know he wanted me to wipe his butt for him for quite awhile. He eventually did it himself but I do not remember exactly how long I did it for him. I would say before kindergarten we were good to go.

Good Luck!



answers from St. Louis on

feminine wet wipes are great for kids! & I teach all kids to wipe as soon as they're using the potty. Good Luck.



answers from Youngstown on

My daughter is 3.5 and she wipes herself. It helps that she is in preschool and the teachers won't do it, so she had no choice. Maybe try a reward system with him? Good luck.



answers from Davenport on

Nope- I don't think it is something they will "want" to do, you have to make him start doing it...show him each step - how much paper - how to fold it, and cover his hand, how to reach around and wipe, how to look and check and if the paper is still dirty, wipe again, until it is clean. You will have to still help/check when he is done, and always have him wash hands with warm water and soap and that will take care of things, whether or not he gets poop on them.



answers from San Diego on

I got tired of "I'm done" and started telling him, you're a big boy now, big boys wipe their own butt. I went, taught, watched, checked, redid if I had too, checked his hands, made sure he washed a dried. He still ask from time to time, usually when it hurt him from holding it in so long, but even then, I just tell him, you know how. I have flushable wet wipes on standby for him, but he never uses them. I occassionally find poo on his undies but that's to be expected and he will learn better as he gets older. My son is 5 now. I started this about a year or two ago. If he refuses, maybe you can make it worthwhile by offering a prize of some sort for wiping. Give him a nice snack/treat. Then extend the time between. Give prizes after a week of accomplishments, then 2 weeks, and so on and so forth.
Good luck and keep us posted on progress. :0)



answers from Minneapolis on

I think I'm totally in the minority here. I had mine start wiping on their own when they first started using the toilet right about age 3. I talked them through it and watched the first time or 2. After that, they did it 100% on their own.



answers from Dallas on

my 8 year old still has trouble, I finally bought diaper wipes & showed him to use those ,after usage he had to wrap it up in tp and throw in trash can because they can not flush, and it is cheaper to buy the diaper wipes verse the flush able wipes . It has helped my son a lot and he is a lot better now at it . I think just some kids have a hard time with tp and it tends (sorry blunt here) to stick and tear when they try to use . hope that helps



answers from Provo on

Sometimes I have to bribe my 3 1/2 yr old to wipe herself. If I keep things positive she is more likely to do it. We have used marshmallows for rewards. I like the book "I'm a Big Kid Now" for potty training and reinforcement.



answers from Nashville on

My son is 3 and wipes himself. Let her wipe with the smeary mess - show her how to do it right, and just spot check after she is done. That's how she will learn.


answers from Los Angeles on

My guy turned 3 last month and wipes, I check. Have your son use the wipe (don't flush it and teach him not to) and then dry tissue. Be there to check and go over misses, but put the responsibility on him to do it...if you wait for him to want to do it I have no idea what grade he'd be in when that happens, seriously ; )



answers from Minneapolis on

Around 4 if I remember right... It has to be taught, like other things that we take for granted (spitting, blowing a nose,...)

I still have the flushable wet kid wipes available to make it easier for her.



answers from Bloomington on

I have a 4 1/2 y.o. She is just now able to wipe herself well. She also potty trained about a year later than most (around 3 ish for pee, and around 4 for poop).



answers from Phoenix on

my son is almost 5 and sometimes i have to help.

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