Potty Training Best Between Ages 2 and 3

If you feel like you've been changing diapers forever, you're not alone. Over the last few decades, the mean age of potting training has crept up in the United States and other countries, including Brazil, Switzerland and China, the article said. In 1980, the mean age U.S. children were toilet-trained was 26 months. In 2003, it was 36.8 months.

One possible explanation for later potty training is the widespread availability and convenience of disposable diapers, the study authors propose.

Tips to Trouble-Free Toilet Training

When you think it's time, Barone and Stavinoha offer these tips for getting kids trained:

  • Look for signs of readiness. These include showing interest in the potty or toilet; staying dry during naps or for several hours during the day; being able to follow simple directions; being able to pull down their own pants; using words, posture or facial expressions that indicate they have to go.
  • Make a small potty available in the bathroom. Try doing practice runs when you think your toddler might need to go by having him sit or stand in front of the potty for a few minutes several times a day.

    Most likely, your toddler won't actually go, Stavinoha said. But it can help them recognize the urge to go and associate the potty with it.

  • If your child resists, don't sweat it. Setting up a battle of wills will only make the process unnecessarily difficult on mom and dad. Back off for a few weeks, then try again.
  • While potty training, avoid asking: "Do you have to go to the potty?" "You're almost guaranteed your child will tell you 'no'," Stavinoha said.

If a child is 4 or 5 and still not staying dry during the day, or if you suspect the reason may have a physical cause, discuss it with the pediatrician, Stavinoha said.

More information

There's more on potty training at the American Academy of Family Physicians.

SOURCES: Joseph Barone, M.D., chief, urology, Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, N.J.; Peter Stavinoha, Ph.D., clinical neuropsychologist, Children's Medical Center of Dallas; December 2009 Journal of Pediatric Urology

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