Toddler L Isn’t Yet Potty About Toilet Training

In June last year, we made our first tentative steps into the unknown world of potty training. Actually, that’s a slight lie as I’ve successfully been potty trained for around 30 years – despite the odd little accident. To rephrase, it was our first tentative steps into the unknown world of potty training since becoming parents as we bought Toddler L a potty.

Fast forward 11 months, a now two years nine months old Toddler L – or 33 months if you’re one of those weirdos – is no closer to being potty trained as she was on the day her pink throne arrived. I’ve done a bit of reading on the topic and, generally, it seems that potty training could happen anywhere between 18 months and three-years old. As the sprog is approaching the latter end of the scale, it’s got me thinking about whether she’s ‘behind’ and whether we’ve been too relaxed.

I’m the first person to say that you should never compare kids. They’re all different, there’s no typical child and advice is just that. However, despite knowing this, it’s sometimes difficult not to get caught up in the whole comparison thing. When you see in the news that a five-month old baby is potty trained, when people boast about their similar-aged child being out of nappies, or you have NCT group friends with kids who are dry during the day, it does make you wonder.

That’s just one side of the story though. It would appear that there’s an increasing trend where kids are taking longer to potty train. For example, a recent survey suggested that 100% of staff working with children aged three to five have seen an increase in the number of kids not toilet trained compared to five years ago. What’s more, it’s suggested that the average age of children being potted trained in the 1950’s was 15 to 18 months, yet now it’s three-and-a-half.

Again, I return to the above point about every kid being different. With us, the truth is that we just don’t think Toddler L is ready. There are fleeting signs of interest, but I’m pretty confident that she’s not at the right point yet. For instance, she’s gone through periods of wanting to sit on her potty at home or wanting to sit on the toilet at nursery. This has been encouraged, but it doesn’t seem related to ‘needing to go’ – it’s more of a novelty associated with copying others.

We could push her into it, but that feels like it would result in more stress for everyone . You want to give them the best chance of succeeding, so it’s surely counter-intuitive and counterproductive to start when they’re not ready. I’d much prefer to get it cracked in a few weeks when she’s 98% ready, rather than it taking a few months when she’s only 75% ready. It’s not like she’s going to be in nappies for the rest of her life, so what’s a few months either way of some target age so-called experts suggest?

With that in mind, I had a bit of a Google to find the ‘signs’ of readiness. There’s a few different resources out there, but I quite like this one from Babycentre as it broke the signs down into physical, behavioural and cognitive. Below are the signs of readiness with my comments on Toddler L’s current position:

What are the physical signs of readiness?

  • Has regular, soft, formed poos at relatively predictable times, and doesn’t poo during the night.  Wouldn’t say “relatively predictable times”.
  • Has dry periods of at least one or two hours, or wakes up with a dry nappy after a nap. This shows that her bladder muscles are developed enough to hold her wee in and store it.  Not sure – I don’t check her nappy every hour or two.
  • Can pull her pants up and down with only a little help.  Yep.
  • Shows an interest when you go to the bathroom.  Yep.

What are the behavioural signs of readiness?

  • Shows a wish to please, and enjoys praise.  Yep.
  • Demonstrates a desire for independence.  Yep.
  • Shows signs of discomfort when her nappy is wet or dirty.  Nope.

What are the cognitive signs of readiness?

  • Can understand and follow simple instructions and requests, such as “Do you need a wee?” or “Where’s the potty?”.  Yep.
  • Has words for wee and poo.  Yep.
  • Shows awareness that she’s having a wee or poo. She may stop what she’s doing for a minute, or go somewhere else, or tell you that she’s had a wee or poo.  Nope.
  • She may tell you she needs to have a wee or a poo before she does it.  Nope.

So although the majority of physical and behavioural signs are there, she’s lacking some of the key cognitive things. If she doesn’t really show the awareness that she needs to go and doesn’t tell us she needs to go, then we’re not in a position to know. She’s starting to tell us after she’s had a poo, but there’s no indication of it before. Until this changes, I don’t think there’s any point in starting to potty train.

It’ll happen when she’s ready – be that next week, two months time or six months time. Until that point, I’m going to enjoy not having to scrub a piss stain out of the carpet or pick up a turd left on the kitchen floor!

What are your experiences of potty training? At what age did your child become toilet trained? Was it an easy or difficult process? Let me know below!

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  • Hannah Collins

    My daughter is three at the end of June and sounds very like yours. She knows that she needs to start using the potty, but she has no interest in actually using it. Our eldest was two and 11 months before she started using the potty, so I’m not panicking yet.

  • Y’knkw im so glad you’ve written this as we’ve been debating potty training with T recently.

    Going on your ‘readiness’ points T’s ready but because we don’t know WHEN he goes it’s hard to time potty breaks.

    We have a training seat ready and he tells us when he’s gone, so I think he’s ready, but at the same time he’s really wet at night which indicates that his little bladder isn’t ready (or maybe we let him drink too close to beditme).

    Urgh. It’s bloody hard, but like you said – don’t compare and I would go with toddler L. It’s less stressful for everyone that way.