Answers to 5 common potty training questions

Is your 4-year-old not yet potty trained? Does your toddler get upset when she has an accident? Potty training can be time-consuming, confusing and stressful, but you can ease your concerns by knowing what to expect and recognizing when you may need to ask for help.

Dennis S. Peppas, M.D., and Eran Rosenberg, M.D., pediatric urologists with Norton Children’s Urology, weigh in on common questions about potty training.

What is the right age to begin potty training?

While the average kid is toilet trained by age 3, some children may take as long as age 6 or 7 to stay completely dry day and night.

 

How do I know when to begin potty training?

When your little one is ready to potty train, he or she will let you know! There is no specific timeline to follow. Every kid is different, and children will have the desire and motivation to be dry at different times. Most potty training occurs between ages 1 and 3, but don’t force your child to start training if he or she is not ready. Setting your expectations too high and training too early can sometimes cause a child to have problems such as accidents and bedwetting, because the bladder may not be strong enough. It also may lead to constipation, kidney damage and even urinary tract infections, mainly because children are holding in their bowel movements longer than they should.

Norton Children’s Urology

At Norton Children’s Urology, you’ll find the kind of urological care that you and your child can trust. Our staff physicians are fellowship trained in pediatric and adolescent urology specialty care. They provide specialized urological care for newborns to teens up to age 18.

(502) 559-1670

Your child may be ready for potty training if he or she:

  • Is interested in trying to use the toilet or in watching others use it
  • Can express toilet terms (pee, poop or whatever you designate as terms to use) and tell you when he or she needs to go
  • Can tell you when he or she has soiled a diaper or pull-up training underwear
  • Begins to stay dry for longer periods of time
  • Can pull down his or her own pants

 

How do I help my child learn to use the toilet?

Patience and persistence are vital to the process. If your child shows a desire to be dry, schedule times to urinate every two to three hours during the day. Also, select the time after the largest meal of the day and have your child sit on the potty for 30 minutes with a book or toy. This likely will stimulate a sense of bowel fullness and the need to have a bowel movement.

 

When is it time to ask for help for potty training?

A child who is not toilet trained by age 6 should be examined by a pediatric urologist. A visit is also recommended for a child who was previously toilet trained but now has accidents, has issues with how often he or she urinates or is regularly experiencing an urgent need to urinate.

 

What does a pediatric urologist do?

A pediatric urologist is a specialist who diagnoses and treats urination difficulties, called “ voiding dysfunction.” It may take several months to improve or resolve voiding dysfunction.


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