Potty training tips: An evidence-based guide for the thinking parent

Evidence-based potty training tips? There haven’t been many experimental studies of toilet training, but helpful research exists. Here you will find a collection of evidence-based articles, including:

And here, on this page, I outline some of the steps you might want to take before you begin training your child.

Getting started

When is a child ready to start toilet training? Some experts have developed a list of signs to watch for, and conclude that most parents ought to wait until a child is 2-3 years old.

However, the scientific evidence suggests that some kids might be better off if they began training earlier. Read more about your options and the research that backs them up

Planning a strategy

Infant toilet training is common in many parts of the world. If you’re interested in early training, check out this overview, as well as this article about this method for babies old enough to sit own their own

If you plan on starting after infancy, consider these ideas for getting your child interested and ready to train. Dr. Barton Schmidt has written that one of the most common mistakes American parents make is a failure to prepare their child for training. This article offers tips for making toilet training go easier and–just possibly–faster.

In addition, see these important health and safety guidelines for training your child. They include potty training tips for making your child more cooperative.

Then you might want to check out my guide to five popular toilet training methods. I outline these methods step-by-step, and, where the information is available, tell you what kind of track record each method has. I also offer a detailed discussion of “fast-track” toilet training techniques, i.e., programs designed to potty train kids in a single day.

And you might have heard of diaper alarms. Are they worthwhile? This article reviews the latest research.

Potty training tips: Other resources

If you’re looking for books aimed at children, I have two suggestions:

By Taro Gomi – Everyone Poops (1st Edition) (8.2.1993) by Taro Gomi (Kane/Miller publishing, 1993), and Where’s the Poop? by Julie Marks and Susan Kathleen Hartung (Harper Festival, 2004)

Both of these take a “natural history” approach, preparing kids for potty training by discussing where and how other creatures eliminate their waste. Everyone Poops is decidedly more graphic (illustrations show creatures in the act of defecating). But these aspects of the book are probably one reason for its popularity with toddlers and preschoolers.