When To Start Potty Training

Dear Sara,

My son is eighteen months old and his daycare wants him to be potty trained by twenty-four months. I thought I would start now but he just doesn’t seem to understand what I want him to do. I realize now that I have started to potty train him too soon. When is a good time to start?

Dear Marian,

Each child is different. Actually, twenty-four months can be a little early for some kids. Children often learn by seeing their parents do things. You might let him stay in the bathroom as you do your time in there. If you like your book or magazine, your son could bring his book. When my little brother was being potty trained, my Mom always gave him a book to look at. He called this his “bookalet.” If you see that your son is straining to have a bowel movement in his diaper, you could try him on his potty at this time.

Every child is different, some are ready early but others take their time. If your son isn’t ready by twenty-four months, don’t worry about it. Don’t try to shame him into something he’s not ready for. There is no magic age when a child suddenly becomes potty trained.

You can see if he’s interested in a few months. He may or may not have control by then. If he’s not ready, try again later.


  1. If your daycare providers are that ill-informed about early childhood development, it’s time to find a different provider!
    Dr. Anne

    • I agree with Anne! Each child is different and boys often take longer than girls. When potty training my youngest son, I challenged myself to have him potty trained by his fourth birthday after several unsuccessful attempts. We’d back off a few months and try again. I talked to his pediatrician and his advice was NOT to push the issue – it will happen when he’s ready. He was right and it takes a lot of patience to get through this!

  2. Eugenia Stephens says:

    Find another daycare center now, before you have to pay for therapy to undo the trauma you create! My daycare center told me the same thing with our first son and I tried too early because I needed to work, then I had a bed-wetter until he was 12! So, don’t rush him. I will say I had no trouble with BM training.

    For boys, 18 months is way too early. I have potty trained 3 sons and two grandsons. Our only daughter trained herself. She did not want a potty chair for little folks, so she fell into the adult commode a couple of times with her bottom in the commode and upper body, legs and feet sticking out! :)
    Each child IS different, as Sara says. Our youngest granddaughter would “hold:” her BM”s
    until she would be constipated. She was almost four and asking for a pull-up to do a BM when I , her mean
    grandma said, “I’m not changing a poopy diaper for a big girl like you”. I put her on the potty, she had the BM, but, then, she wouldn’t let me flush it so she could show dad(my 3rd son)! problem solved, she was sooo proud!
    Start sending your son in the bathroom with his dad in the evenings for urinary control , then try BM control after he see how that is done when he is between two and three.

    the bowel movement process.

  3. Get the book,” Potty Training in a Day” or “Toilet Training in a day” the methods described work well without leaving trauma, but it is an intense 12 hours of work for you.

  4. I read a book that said children do not have fully developed rectal muscles until they are 2 years old. So they can not hold it. So why be cruel children want to do what we do if given the opportunity to do it without all the horrible stress and drama. Learn about development before you let anyone tell you what to do.

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