Many toddlers begin to show signs of potty training readiness around 18 to 24 months. Every child is different, however, and some may show signs earlier or later, sometimes not until three or four years of age. If a child begins showing interest in bathroom habits, chances are she is showing other signs of potty training readiness, such as staying dry for longer periods of time and being aware of her diaper. Around potty training time, many pediatricians also recommend that a child be able to follow directions, run and walk well, dress herself, and stay focused on one activity.
Probably one of the most important signs of potty training readiness is showing interest in her potty chair or the toilet, along with wearing regular underwear. She may also seem fascinated with watching other people use the toilet. Often, a child will start to sit on either her potty chair or the regular toilet around this time, and may even have a fascination with flushing it. Many children also specifically state that they want to use the potty.
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Usually, when a child is old enough to begin potty training, she is also at an age when her bladder can start holding more. She will also be developing better control over the muscles that she uses to urinate and defecate. Many parents find that their child seems to be keeping a dry or clean diaper for longer periods of time, sometimes even through a nap or through the night. Bowel movement regularity is also another sign of potty training readiness. They will often become very predictable around this time, which can make scheduling bathroom trips easier.
When a child becomes aware of her diaper and what it is for, she is showing an important sign of potty training readiness. She will most likely begin to realize the difference between a wet diaper and a dry diaper, and notice that a dirty diaper is much more uncomfortable than a clean one. Many children will also be aware of when they are urinating or defecating.
Although most adults use the toilet without a second thought, for a child, this task can be difficult. She must learn each step, from pulling down her pants and actually going to the bathroom, to wiping and washing her hands. Because it involves a series of small steps, being able to follow simple directions is a must when it comes to potty training readiness.
Around the average potty training age, most children will also begin to develop or perfect other skills like running and walking well, and dressing themselves. As many of a toddler's bathroom trips are emergencies, both of these skills are considered important. For example, if a child has problems running to the bathroom, or if she has trouble getting her pants down, she may not make it on to the potty in time, resulting in an accident. To minimize the number of accidents during potty training time, parents can dress their child in easy-to-remove clothing, or even just underwear, if possible.