Five Key Signs Your Child is Ready for Potty Training

Potty training guru Amanda Jenner pinpoints her five key signs that your child is ready to give it a go.


Potty training is something that most parents dread and knowing when and where to start is one of the most common questions I get asked. The one thing that most parents make a mistake with is starting when they are ready - rather than starting when the child is ready.

My most important piece of advice is to make sure that your child is showing the key signs of readiness before you attempt the transition.

Look for the Five Key Signs of Readiness

  • Is your child able to understand and comprehend basic instructions? This is important when you start potty training as you will need to give them direction on what they need to do and also have them communicate to you when it comes to needing a wee or poo or using the potty or toilet.
  • Are you noticing that your child’s nappies are dryer during the day? This is often an indication that their muscles have developed which will lead to fewer accidents.
  • Does your child remove their nappy as they feel uncomfortable when it is wet? This is a good sign that they are starting to feel the wetness and wanting it removed.
  • Can your child recognise when they are actually doing a wee or a poo? This is an important indicator that they are starting to understand their body and will be able to learn to start controlling its functions.
  • Is your toddler showing independence? Actions like dressing and undressing show they are moving onto the next key stage of development. You will often find this really does help with potty training as they are keen to do things on their own.

When Not to Potty Train

  • If you have had a change of circumstances in your home or have recently moved house.
  • If they have a new sibling this can be very distracting and make your toddler to revert back to baby stages for the attention.
  • If your child has just started a new childcare setting this can be very unsettling for them as it changes their routine.
  • If you child has suffered a recent illness.

What Next?

When you have checked your child is showing the signs of readiness I am a great believer in getting them involved with the whole process. Take them to choose their own potty and favourite character pants really makes the whole adventure engaging and exciting.

Reward System

Every child loves to feel special and to please Mummy and Daddy - especially when it comes to potty training - as they often know this is a big-girl or big-boy challenge. Using rewards is a great way to encourage your child to sit on the potty or the toilet, this can be reward chart and stickers or even a magical star box.

It is important to reward your child even if they try but do not ‘perform’, sometimes it can be difficult to get them sitting on the potty or the toilet and this needs a little extra encouragement.

Getting everyone involved once you start and keeping it consistent is so important, so do speak to your childcare setting or any other carers to ensure you all stick to the same routine.

And finally, a biggie for parents is… don’t compare your child to anyone else! Sometimes it does just take a little bit of patience and every child will learn this life skill at a different rate. 

Potty trainer and children’s behavioural expert Amanda Jenner


Additional External Resources 

Institute of Health Visiting 

NHS Potty Training Problems