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best age for potty training

The best age to start potty training

#pottytraining Mar 13, 2023

As a parent of two young kids myself, I know all too well how much I so desperately want to never walk down that diaper isle ever again.

Parenting is EXPENSIVE. Between milk, diaper changes, wipes, childcare and all the expenses that come with having a child, diapers are one of those things we all want to get off our shopping list ASAP. 

But, I’m here to tell you that there are some real risks in starting potty training too early… risks of a longer, more challenging potty training process and risks of potential long term health issues… All of which CAN BE AVOIDED if you wait until your child is truly developmentally AND biologically ready. 

So the question is, "What is developmental and biological readiness and at what age does it begin?"


Developmental readiness is when your child develops a set of cognitive, emotional and physical skills needed to take on independent bowel and bladder control.

These include:

  • Understanding simple directions
  • Your child develops a stronger awareness of sensations and urges. For example, when they are tired or hungry,.
  • Basic understanding of cause an effect
  • Communicate 2-4 words together
  • Identify certain objects, animals, body parts
  • Interest in being independent 
  • Ability to sit on a chair and get up 

Some of these skills may not seem relevant to potty training, however they are actually the foundation of skills needed to take on potty training. 

Some other skills that are specific to potty training include:

  • Showing an interest to stay dry and clean
  • Starting to wake up dry from naps 
  • Interest and curiosity in toileting 

Typically a child will start to develop these skills between the ages of 18-24 months. However, a child needs time to master these skills in order to be truly ready.

For some kids, this starts closer to the age of 3.


Biological readiness is when your child's body begins to develop reliable control of their "potty muscles" and a reliable sense of their urges.

A child's "potty muscles" are the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles our bodies use to control the flow of urine and feces. 

These muscles help a child to hold in and reach the toilet, relax and open when they are ready to release and empty out their bowel and bladder fully. 


Typically a child will develop reliable control of their "potty muscles" and sense of their urges somewhere between the ages of 24-30 months. 

Perhaps your child can stay dry for 2 hours or more at a time or exhibiting some kind of muscle control - maybe they express to you that they are peeing.


The most up-to-date research suggests that if children are potty trained before 24 months, it increases the risk of bladder and bowel dysfunction (Hodges et al, 2014). 

Without the control of these muscles and a reliable sense of ones urges, there will be less success in reaching the potty to go. It can also create habits where children aren't able to empty out fully, which increases the chance of dysfunctional voiding. Dysfunctional voiding can be anything from the leakage of urine of feces, loss of sensation of an urge, peeing more frequently and UTIs, to name a few.

In fact, 2014 study conducted by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center suggest children who potty train before 24 months have a 3x higher risk of developing daytime wetting problems later and 3x more likely to be constipated.


The most ideal age is when your child is both biologically and developmentally ready.

So even though your child may show the signs of readiness from as early as 18 months, you want to ensure your child is biologically ready too.

 The best age to begin potty training is when your child is at least 24 months and showing the developmental “signs” of readiness.

Some kids may only be developmentally ready closer to the age of 3, and thats okay too. The important thing is to not compare your child to other children their age as each child develops at their own pace.

Found this helpful? Then you'll LOVE my online course Cut The Crap. It'll help you go from anxious and overwhelmed to capable and confident to get started using an easy, practical method that will get your child out of diapers the first time you attempt it!



Santos, Joana Dos et al. “Bladder and bowel dysfunction in children: An update on the diagnosis and treatment of a common, but underdiagnosed pediatric problem.” Canadian Urological Association journal = Journal de l'Association des urologues du Canada vol. 11,1-2Suppl1 (2017): S64-S72. doi:10.5489/cuaj.4411

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "Potty training before age two linked to increased risk of later wetting problems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2014.


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