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Ask the Doctor: Potty Training Readiness

Whether you are a new parent or a seasoned one, the thought of transitioning your little one from using diapers to being potty trained can be daunting. You may wonder about the best age to start potty training, how to get the process under way and how often your little ones should be going. Every child is different, and we are here to help you with the process. Read on for basic information and tips on potty training, as well as signs and symptoms of possible urinary tract infections (UTIs) or gastrointestinal issues.

It’s Potty Time

“When should my child begin potty training?” The average age is between 18 and 30 months, and the determining factor should be when your child is ready and whether or not they understand the process.

Look out for the following signs that indicate that your child is ready:

  • Your child is dry after naps, and stays dry for at least two consecutive hours
  • They show interest in wearing “big kid” underwear and independence in pulling down their own diapers, training pants or underwear
  • They follow simple instructions, such as “walk to the bathroom” and “sit down”
  • They can stay on the potty long enough to go to the bathroom
  • They understand when their diaper is wet or soiled, and can express it through simple language or gestures

It is common to stress about whether your child is potty training too early or too late, but don’t force it if your little one isn’t showing signs of readiness. Between 2 and 3 years old is typically when they will be ready and able to understand the process. Try not to worry too much. It’s normal to have a late starter, and the process itself can take about a year.

How Often Should My Child Use the Potty?

On average, most toddlers urinate four to eight times per day and have a bowel movement at least one or two times a day. It is normal if a child goes more than that, or skips a day or two between bowel movements.

Watch for Gastrointestinal (GI) Issues and Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms

Children are susceptible to GI/UTI issues when potty training from withholding pee and bowel movements. Constipated children are seven times more likely to develop a UTI, and the more severe the constipation, the worse the UTI or GI concern tends to be. That’s why it’s so important to encourage your child to use the potty frequently and to practice patience.

It is unhealthy to withhold drinks, and this practice makes a UTI more likely, so keep your child well hydrated. Your child may have a UTI if you see or hear any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Avoiding using the bathroom
  • Cloudy urine, or urine with small amounts of blood
  • Crying or complaining when urinating
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Frequent, urgent need to go, but little comes out
  • Lower back and/or abdominal pain
  • Trouble, pain or burning when urinating or defecating
  • Urine has unpleasant odor

For a referral to an AdventHealth for Children at Tampa pediatric gastroenterologist or pediatric urologist, visit AdventHealthForChildren.com/Tampa.


*Presented by AdventHealth | Originally Published in the March 2022 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

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