Pregnancy and Beyond

The age at which a child may be toilet trained is highly individual. Although a few children are ready to learn when they are 18 months old, a parent and child will have better success if they wait until 24 months of age. Even this may be too early for some children.

Age is not a reliable indicator of when a child is capable of being toilet trained. Instead, watch for the following signs that the basic skills needed for bowel and bladder control have developed:

  1. Muscle control: Voluntary control of specific muscles must be achieved before toilet training. Such muscle control usually exists once a child remains dry through his naps and occasionally through the night.
  2. Communication: The child must be able to recognize and communicate "the need to go."
  3. Desire: Getting rid of messy diapers is usually the parent's desire, not the child's. However, children want to please their parents and will imitate desired behavior.

These three basic factors are usually present by about 2 ½ years of age, but not before 18 months of age.