Most parents can't wait to potty train their toddler and done with diapers for good. So, of course, it's natural to wonder when you can start the often daunting process. You may have heard that girls are easier to train than boys, but that if you start to soon your efforts may backfire. In other words, teaching a kid to use a toilet can be confusing, especially when everyone seems to have a different opinion on the subject. So, when can you start potty training a girl? Thankfully, experts have a pretty good idea of when you can expect to ditch diaper duty... once and for all.
The short answer? When they are ready. Is that helpful? Eh, not really, especially when you're a frustrated new mom looking for answers. You can, however, take a page from other parents' books and consider their kids' starting point a benchmark for your own. According to a review of potty training research published in the journal American Family Physician, American parents, on average, begin potty training later than previous generations, and as many as 60 percent of us aren't completing the job until after our kids' third birthdays. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), while there's no real "right age" to start, waiting to potty train your toddler might actually be the best bet. Turns out, your kid will be physically ready to use the potty long before they are actually able to understand when and how to use the bathroom on a consistent basis.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that girls are generally ready to start potty training before boys, and may be easier to potty train as a result. As for how much earlier, though, another study in Pediatrics found that regardless of gender you should probably consider waiting to start potty training your child until they are at a minimum 27 months old. Unless you want the entire process to take longer, that is.
According to the AAP, there are quite a few items parents need to check off their child's potty-training readiness list before they take the plunge. These include physical signs of readiness, like having the control to make it to to the bathroom in time, and being able to pull down their pants once they get there. Also important to consider are their cognitive abilities, like being aware of what the urge to go feels like and understanding what the potty is for. According to the same site, your child should be able to tell you they need to use the bathroom, and articulate any problems they have doing it, before you potty train them. They also note that starting before your child is emotionally ready can set them — and you — up for a really tough time.
According to BabyCentre UK, while some girls show signs of being ready to use a potty as early as 18 months, others don't until much later. So before you ditch diapers completely, you should pay attention to your kid and wait to start when they are ready. The same site notes most parents start potty training girls between ages 2 and 3.
One study published in Pediatrics found that parents might be starting potty training too early. The researchers tracked the potty-training progress of 126 girls and 141 boys, by having their parents submit weekly surveys. The girls in their study started potty training earlier than the boys (23 months versus 25 months), and stayed dry during the day earlier, too (32.5 months versus 35 months). However, the authors recommend waiting until your child is 22 to 30 months of age to even start thinking about it, because the younger kids — both girls and boys — just aren't ready for potty training.
If you do start potty training too early, know that the process might be significantly more difficult. One study published in the journal Pediatrics found that starting at a younger age won't mean that your child will be potty trained sooner, because it may actually take longer to do it. Kind of defeats the purpose of getting a head start, right? According to the authors of the aforementioned study, there's no benefit in starting before your child is about 27 months old, and potty training might be an easier and quicker process if you wait until your child is 100 percent ready.
A big part of figuring out if your daughter is ready for potty training actually depends on you, as the parent doing the training. As Darcie Kiddoo, M.D., a Pediatric Surgeon and Urologist at the University of Albert, notes in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, it's important that parents be willing to look for signs, able take their kids to the bathroom, and be emotionally ready for potty training themselves. The process is a difficult one, and you might set yourself and your kid up for failure if you start too early or ignore signs your child is simply not ready.
So, in the end, rather following some magical date or hard deadline, it's best you wait until both you and your daughter are ready and willing to start potty training.
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