When the time comes for your child to begin potty training, it can be both an exciting and daunting task at the same time. One thing to remember is that it’s going to take time and patience, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. And while there’s no shortcut you can take to make the process smoother for you and your child, there are lots of things you can do to make sure that your child learns how to transition from nappies in the best way possible. So, how long does potty training take?

Understanding Potty Training

What’s important to remember when it comes to potty training your child is that you’ll need to be the one to make the first move. It’s not unheard of, but children don’t generally want to stop wearing nappies without encouragement from their parents. Some say that you should wait for signs that they are ready to start potty training, but some children won’t ever show any sign at all. So, what do you need to get started?

You don’t need much to get started with potty training, and you don’t even have to spend a lot of money either:

  • Pick up a few potties to dot around the home. While you’ll want to have one in the bathroom to help your child understand that’s where you go, you may want some elsewhere while they’re learning their body signals. Try to get potties that are lower to the ground so that they can use it without your assistance.
  • If your child has picked up on cues and would rather not use a potty, then you can get a children’s toilet seat so that they can comfortably sit and use the toilet. It might also be worth getting a stool to help them step on and off the toilet. Not only that, having your feet firmly on the floor is more ideal for emptying the bladder and bowel properly.
  • A travel potty for the car - you can pretty much guarantee they’ll need to go while on the move!
  • Training cloth pants. They’re like regular underwear, but they have an extra absorbent layer to help soak up any wee without their clothes getting wet. These can be washed and reused.
  • If you don’t already use them, consider switching to a cloth nappy. This will help your child to understand different signals in their body. A reusable nappy will soak up any accidents, whereas a cloth one will be more uncomfortable, and they need to understand that it’s normal for them to be dry and clean.

What Age to Start Potty Training

Typically, most children are ready to begin potty training at around the age of 18 months, and research shows that the best age range to ditch the nappies and start potty or toilet training are between the ages of 18 and 30 months. Not only is it better for your child’s bladder and bowel health, but it can also be harder to learn that skill the longer you leave it.

Determining the Right Age for Potty Training

Not many parents think of this, but normalising using the potty from a very early age can actually help the “real” potty training process. Even if your toddler/child doesn’t successfully use the potty for a long time, having them aware what the potty is used for will really help the transition when it comes to training for real.

So, even if your child is still very young, having a potty around and teaching them how to use it from a young age can help start the process. As soon as your child can sit up independently is a good age to introduce the concept of the potty into their lives. 

So, while the general age to start potty training is between 18 and 30 months, you should ideally be introducing it from around 6 months (give or take) to help them develop skills that will help them later on. 

How Long Should Potty Training Take?

Unfortunately there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. How long the whole process will take will entirely depend on their familiarity with the potty and what it’s used for. So, if you’ve arrived here with a child that’s 18 months old and haven’t yet introduced the potty, it might take some time for them to learn those skills.

On the other hand, some children find potty training very easy, even when the potty is a new concept to them. However, for some children, it can take months of constant training before they truly get the hang of it.

Essentially, it’s important to not put your child on some sort of timeline!

Factors Influencing Potty Training Duration

There are a number of things that could affect your child and how long it takes them to get the hang of using the potty and recognising signs that they need to use it.

Being put in nappies elsewhere

There may be instances where your child is being put in nappies outside of your care, for example in day care or if they spend time with their other parent that doesn’t live with you. It’s important to make sure that everyone knows they are beginning potty training and stay consistent with it so that your child doesn’t get confused.

Frustration from both parties

Accidents are going to happen, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. However, it’s important to try and avoid showing any frustration as this can and will affect their confidence when it comes to using the potty. Instead, clean up the mess together and gently remind them that you would like them to use the potty next time. And, when they do, make sure you praise them to avoid them from becoming frustrated with themselves.


Your child might be taking a while to grasp the potty because they simply can't go! Make sure you communicate with anyone that cares for your child that you’d like to know if they have passed a stool in their care. If you’re noticing they are constipated, speak to your GP about things you can do to help get their bowel movement back on track.

Familiarity with the potty

Sometimes the reason it might seem like it’s taking a long time to potty train is simply because they weren’t familiar with it! It takes time to process and learn new skills, so try and be patient with them!

Access to a potty

There might be occasions where access to a potty is limited. For example, if you’re out shopping and left the travel potty in the car and there’s no nearby toilets. While you should try and avoid this from happening in the first place, sometimes things like that do happen, which in turn may delay their progress.

Common Misconceptions about Potty Training

Like with most things, there are a lot of misconceptions about potty training, such as:

  • Your child should be potty trained by a certain age. While it’s good for their bladder and bowel health, every child is different and may have other reasons for not being potty trained, such as physical or learning difficulties.
  • There will be signs your child wants to begin potty training. This isn’t always the case! Sometimes toddlers won’t ever show any signs until you introduce the potty to them.
  • Boys can be harder to train than girls. Boys and girls will learn at their own rates, and the only time it might be harder to train a boy is if you’re training him to go standing up right from the beginning.
  • Pull up pants can help with potty training. While they’re good for practising pulling underwear up and down, they still absorb any accidents. Your child needs to learn their own body signals and that being wet or dirty is uncomfortable.

Practical Tips for Successful Potty Training

Now that we know what age your child should start potty training, let’s go through a few tips to help the actual process go as smoothly as possible.

Make it fun

It’s important to make potty training as fun as possible; when children are enjoying themselves, they’re more likely to repeat that action. You can use books to explain what’s happening or have their teddy use the potty before them.

Be positive

Being positive about their efforts on the potty will encourage them to continue trying! Offer rewards and praise when they use the potty or manage to stay dry for a certain period of time.

Create a potty schedule

Placing and encouraging your child to use the potty when you think they might need it will help them recognise signs and pick up on when they should use the potty.

Coping with Challenges in Potty Training

Finally, it’s totally normal for your child to have accidents when they start potty training, so here are a few tips to help you deal with the situation as it arises:

  1. Clean up accidents together and remind them that the potty is where you go to wee or poo.
  2. Don’t shame your child because they had an accident. This can put unnecessary pressure on them and turn potty training into a negative experience, which you want to avoid.
  3. Always acknowledge the accident. Including your child in the clean up process helps them remember they’re trying to avoid this from happening.

Potty training can be challenging, but it’s an important part of your child’s development. Use these tips to help have a positive experience for both you and your child.

We hope this helps! 


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