When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. This keeps it 100% reader supported and free of ads or sponsorships. Thanks for your support!

Potty Training 101

18 months is around the time that people start asking about potty training.

I get emails that say things like, “Shouldn’t I be potty training? Putting a potty out maybe, so she can ‘get used to it’? I don’t want to miss the boat.”


You’re not at risk for losing a window of opportunity for at least another year or so (and much later, depending on whom you ask), so do not panic.

That said, some potty training experts say that 20-30 months of age is the “golden window” for potty training. Thus, if you are one of those parents who likes to be on the leading edge of every developmental milestone (snort), you could, in theory, start potty training around 20 months or so.

When Lucie, my older daughter, was 18-20 months(ish), I was newly pregnant with my youngest. Many of those days were spent in bed or on the bathroom floor, so potty training a toddler was the absolute last thing on my mind.

And that was fine! We potty trained her a year later at 2.5, and the rest is history.

Point being:

Timing is everything.

Meg Collins


Here is the summary of my research. My goal is to provide enough detail to be informative but not overwhelming, so jump in if you’re ready. Or don’t yet. I assure you, your child will not go to college in diapers. 😉

A Little Intro to Potty Training

Generally speaking, healthy children aren’t physically and emotionally ready to start using a potty until they are between 18 months and 3 years old. Yes, there are those crazy people (kidding!) who do EC (elimination communication) from birth, but those people (“those people,” haha) are on their own track.

Anecdotally, boys tend to be more difficult to train than girls and, statistically, train at a later age (3 months later on average), but some potty training experts shun this notion and believe that boys can train just as quickly and easily as their female counterparts.

Maybe it’s just that moms of boys have been told that it’s soooo difficult, which deters them from trying earlier – very possible!

someecard for potty training

The vast majority of parents in America and other first world countries start potty training when their children are between two and three years old.

“But people in other parts of the world train a lot earlier!”

This is true, but the situation in developing countries is totally different, as many urologists and potty training experts are first to point out. In those countries, they may not have access to proper diapering and sanitation. Thus, without diapers, potty training is imperative as a matter of community health and disease prevention. Furthermore, children in developing countries have a completely different lifestyle: they spend a lot more time outdoors, they certainly aren’t at daycare all day, and they generally eat whole foods that allow for easier bowel movements. Thus, you will find that children in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa “train” much earlier as a matter of custom, lifestyle, and practicality.

african babies
No Pampers here!

In America and most of Western Europe, the age of potty training is absolutely all over the board: some train at 18 months and some don’t get there until four (somebody has to be buying those size six diapers, right?).

That said, training your child earlier rather than later will save money on diapers, will make parents lives easier (no more changing diapers, woohoo!), and is much kinder on the environment.

Potty training expert and author of best-selling potty training book Oh Crap! Potty TrainingJamie Glowacki, recommends training between 20 to 30 months of age and warns that waiting too much past the age of 2.5 could make the job harder.

So why do most parents wait longer?

“Number one, for sure is disposable diapers. I don’t think there’s as much motivation (i.e., laundry) for the parents as there was when there were just cloth diapers… I think the other BIG reason is the whole ‘Wait till they’re ready’ thing. Most parents are under the impression that ‘ready’ means the child will completely self train one glorious moment. While that MAY happen, I find it’s pretty rare… I also think social media and the internet is a big factor as well. One rare potty training horror story can now be spread like wildfire, striking fear into thousands of parents.”

Jamie Glowacki

This is confusing, because for every book or article I found espousing early potty training, there was an article warning against it.

Ahhhh, the internet.

For better or worse, you have to decide what the best age and approach is for you and your child. And I’m telling ya – it has much more to do with YOU and your partner’s readiness than you think. More about that later.

Also, like breastfeeding, nearly everyone has an opinion on potty training, so take all the advice you get with a grain of salt. What worked for your sister or your neighbor or your best friend’s kid might not work for yours — and vice versa.

Always allow your instinct to guide you. You’re the one, after all, who knows your child better than anyone else.

Warning: I have an opinion

At the end of the day, I do have an opinion. After reading all the literature during my research, I am convinced that earlier(ish) is better (i.e., before 2.5 or 3), that waiting for your child to volunteer for the task might not ever happen, and that potty training is, in fact, a great gift to give your child. That said, I don’t judge anyone who wants to wait or doesn’t feel like they or their child is ready. Considering most parents in America are working the equivalent of three full-time jobs (two full-time jobs + managing a household and raising children), we have enough on our plates as it is, no?

Okay, enough pontificating, let’s get started:


  1. Avatar of Margaret Barnett

    What happens when you have a child potty trained and then the child goes back to someone who wears diapers or pulls ups on? The child is now 3 and refuses to use the potty.

    1. In my experience, it’s really difficult for them to have 2 caregivers with different plans (one in where the kiddo is back in diapers). Avoid this if at all possible because it’s just too confusing for the child.

  2. Avatar of Zoe much confuse

    So maybe this is a stupid question.. But how do you teach them to wipe the poo off their butt?? I’ve shown her in the bathroom and tried to guide her hand but she just tears off some tp and puts it in the toilet.. What am I doing wrong? Should I just chase her around the house with toilet tissue every time she poops?

    1. Hi Zoe! The short answer is yes 😉 You will be doing a lot of wiping in the beginning. They don’t fully grasp the concept of wiping their own butts until around 4-5. Even my 6 year old has trouble, lol!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Join 450k Parents Already Receiving "Crib Notes"

Get practical advice and pro-tips for pregnancy, postpartum and parenting.


  • The Real Lowdown on Pregnancy
  • Preparing for Birth
  • Postpartum Survival Strategies
  • Breastfeeding, Newborn Sleep Solutions and more

Get a weekly email with practical advice and insights as your baby grows.


  • Infant Sleep Solutions
  • Babyproofing
  • Starting Solids
  • Pumping at Work and more

I hate spam too and offer easy, 1-click unsubscribe

Hi there - Welcome to the fold.

Bearing and raising kids is hard, but we're here to simplify everything. Unlike most sites, we offer an ad-free, sponsor-free environment, so you always know you’re getting a full dose of honesty.

If you want to noodle around on our site, our 3 most popular articles are:

And, if you haven't already, find us Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks for joining and we'll talk soon!

- Meg

Spread the love!

We haven't taken any money from sponsors or investors.

Help us grow by inviting people that will love Lucie's List as much as you do.

You and the people you invite will get a FREE copy of our Baby Registry Cheatsheet!