Last updated on June 20th, 2024

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Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

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4 Signs of Potty Training Readiness

One of the most asked questions  in the potty learning process is “what are the signs of potty training readiness?” Parents may be waiting for a sign from their child before they start potty training, but today we want to discuss 4 things that determine potty readiness. Your child may never tell you that they’re ready to use the potty, so we want to share these tips to look for so you can read their signals.


You CAN Potty Train Gently +Successfully!

7 myths parents need to debunk for a struggle-free potty training journey!


Remember that learning to use the potty is a multi-step process. Think of all of the steps your child has to know to use the potty:

  1. Recognize the urge to pee or poop 
  2. Hold that urge in 
  3. Remember where to go 
  4. Walk to the bathroom 
  5. Pull down pants
  6. Sit on the potty 
  7. Release the pee or poop
  8. Call for mom or dad to help or wipe themselves 
  9. Stand up 
  10. Pull pants back on 
  11. Wash hands 

That’s at least an 11-step process! When you break it down, it’s not just a “simple” process for your child. If you think of an 18-month-old, 2-year-old, or even 3-year-old, that’s a lot for their developing brains to hold on to and remember. 

Signs of Potty Training Readiness

  • Walking Independently 

The first sign of potty training readiness is that your child needs to be walking on their own. We want our children to feel independent in this potty process. They will gain confidence in their new skills as they’re going through potty learning, so having the freedom to walk to and from the toilet on their own is a big “YES” to have before potty learning. 

  • Communication Skills

Can your child communicate small words like pee or poop, or even just the word “potty”? They don’t need to be speaking in full and complete sentences, but they need to be able to communicate to you the steps of the potty process. If they can’t, it’s frustrating for them and it’s more likely that they’ll have accidents in the beginning. 

  • Ability to Follow Commands

Can your child follow simple commands? For example, “can you please bring me the ball?” or “Can you please pick the book up and put it on the table?”. As we listed above, there are a lot of steps in the potty process. Your child will have to respond to these as commands at first – “ok, can you please walk to the potty?” “can you please climb on the potty?”. If they have a difficult time listening to or following simple 1 and 2-part commands, that may be a sign to wait on potty training. 

  • Skills to Maneuver Clothing 

Can your child operate their own clothes? Can they pull up and down their pants, lift shirts, skirts, and dresses? Pull-down underwear? A great tip when coaching your child through this is to tell them to PUSH down their bottoms and underwear instead of pulling

Don’t stress if your child is showing all 3 other signs of readiness, but not this final step. This step is more complicated and can be taught and learned through the potty training process. 

Additional Signs of Potty Training Readiness

While these 4 signs are really the main ones we want to look for in potty readiness, there are some other signals that your child may be ready. Remember that not every child will show these additional signs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t ready. So often parents think that they have to wait until their child tells them that they want to use the potty, but that’s not the case. Your child may never show enthusiasm about the potty, and that’s when you’ll want to rely on readiness signs. 

Hiding to Potty 

Does your child hide in certain places to potty in their diaper, specifically to poop? That is a sign that they understand pooping is something they do in private, and they may be capable of potty learning. 

Curiosity and Enthusiasm About the Potty 

Maybe your child wants to join you on the potty more often, or they’re asking a lot of questions surrounding the potty. Perhaps they’re “playing” potty in their imagination with different toys. They may be using more “potty words” in their play and explanations of their day. 

Capability vs. Readiness

When deciding when to potty train, parents shouldn’t wait until their child is “ready”, but look for signs that they are capable As mentioned above, some children might never show interest or enthusiasm in the potty. Don’t wait for your child to wake up and tell you they’re ready – otherwise, that day may never come! 

Take a few days to really evaluate your child, and enlist the help of other caregivers in this process. Walk through all of the above signs of capability before making any set plans or setting a date to potty train. If you’re looking for more in-depth signs on readiness and how to prepare for potty learning, our course, the Gentle Potty Learning course walks through all of this and more. We bring the child’s development, personality, and individual needs and abilities to the forefront to facilitate learning this new life skill. Enlisting help in this big, exciting process will help make the process more successful and enjoyable for everyone! Plus, in the Potty Learning Course, you’ll have the chance to work 1:1 with a Gentle Potty Coach to review your plan.


You CAN Potty Train Gently +Successfully!

7 myths parents need to debunk for a struggle-free potty training journey!

Author: Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

My name is Kim West, and I’m the mother of two beautiful girls, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 21 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. My sleep journey began when I started experimenting with gently shaping my daughter’s sleep by not following the conventional wisdom at the time. After having success (and then more success with my second daughter!), I began helping family and friends and my step-by-step method spread like wildfire, exactly like an excellent night of sleep for a tired parent should!