It can be difficult to know when to start potty training when you have not had much exposure to others or are a first time parent. There are different ways to tell that a child is ready to begin their training. Starting too early could mean that they take a step back months later and begin to wet their beds once again and starting too late could cause problems when they are due to start full time school or have become dependent on using diapers.
Firstly the one thing to realize is that there will be differences in each child, so just because another parent’s child is out of diapers it will not mean that yours will be. Never try to compare children’s milestones, even if they are siblings.
Of course the main thing is to ensure that the child is stable on their feet to the point where they can walk quickly or even run as the time length between them having the urge to go to actually releasing their bladder or bowel is much shorter than that of an adult. Being able to sit themselves and get themselves up is just as important too as this will reduce the chance of any possible accidents caused by falling or upset because they have tipped their potty over.
During each diaper change you could notice that that you have a variation of being very full to nothing at all. This shows that their bladder has the strength to hold onto more urine than they were able to do beforehand. As a baby they will have been releasing small amounts more frequently so most diapers will have been pretty much the same weight (not taking into account the first morning change which will be heavier as they will have worn it for a longer time period).
When it comes to opening their bowels the infrequency of going will, once ready have changed to a pattern that is more recognizable. After daytime naps more often than not they will still be dry which is another sign that the muscles of the bladder have strengthened.
Rather than running around randomly from one thing to another, their interest will be held for a longer time such as being able to sit looking through a book or playing with one of their toys independently. This time period should be anywhere between two minutes to five or above.
You will find that they will become curious about what others are doing when they go to the bathroom and may try to replicate behavior they see by their parents or siblings. It is natural for them to display this behavior so it should not be discouraged or it could make your job even harder.
The child, or children might start telling you that they are about to go to the toilet or might hide in a corner to do it as though they are embarrassed for you to see them having a poo. In addition as the stools are firmer as they get older children need to strain in order to pass a motion. This means that such action becomes accompanied by a sound such as grunting or straining.
When they begin to seem more independent and are obviously pleased when they receive praise for anything they do that they could not before they become more eager to please. This is an excellent time to begin the training as they will be receptive to the praise they will be given when they use the toilet for the first and subsequent times independently.
Following certain commands which may not be related to the toilet at all such as picking up their shoes or getting a particular toy you ask them to is another sign that you should look out for. They will have picked up certain words for whether they need to go for a wee or poo, or if not then they can be taught during a diaper change with comments such as ‘did you have a poo/wee?’
Armed with all of the above information and of course a parental instinct the signs will become clear whether they have not yet surfaced or have been present for a while. It can be tempting to try and do things at the same time as other friends or family members have chosen to train their children, however you should always follow your own child’s signals and ignore any comments that others may make about you not having trained them yet. Some children are ready very early whereas others may not be until they are three or even four.