Potty Training

Potty Training and Bedwetting are very different, and it is easy to be confused. Here we talk about what potty training is. For information about Bedwetting, please see the bedwetting page.

What is potty training?

Potty training is the learning of new skills required for urinating and defecating in an appropriate place at an acceptable time and age (*1). When a child is born they are unable to control their bladder or bowel as the central nervous systems is not fully developed. As children develop and grow, the ability to identify the need to toilet increases to the stage where they are able to be toilet trained.

At what age should I begin Potty Training?

There are some who claim potty training should begin within months of birth, and others who suggest waiting until they are older and able to let carers or parents know when they need to toilet.

The goal in early potty training is to show the child where to do it. With early Potty Training you are not try to achieve total continence all at once; just getting the pee and poop in the right place most of the time is great. The good thing about early training is that infants and young toddlers want to please you and do not mind trying new things. If your child resists sitting on the potty – don’t fight, don’t push, try again in a few weeks.

Has potty-training timing changed?

Initiation of potty training was prior to 18 months in the late 1940s, and has risen to 21-36 months in 2006 (*2), and approximately 40-60% of children are potty trained during the day at 36 months (*3)

Why are today’s children delayed in achieving daytime continence?

potty training young children

According to Professor James Franklin , prolonged incontinence is linked to affluence and the ready availability of disposable diapers; particularly pull-up diapers which encourage young children to urinate and defecate in their pants. Dr Sarah Buckley refers to pull-up incontinence underpants as “anti-training pants”, because they play a role in prolonging incontinence rather than the reverse.

What is the environmental impact of using disposable diapers?

Over 18 billion diapers were used in the United States in 1988, and it is now estimated that27.4 billion diapers are used every year, and represent 4% of solid waste sent to landfill. In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up about 50% of household waste. No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years. By comparison, our cloth pull up washable, semi-absorbent, kid’s absorbent pants can be washed hundreds of times and will decay over about 20 years. There is an enormous amount of water, wood, petroleum feedstock and chlorine used to make disposable diapers.

What is the cost of using disposable diapers?

potty training timeThe cost of one disposable diaper in the USA is typically $0.25.  Assuming an average of 6 disposables per day the cost is approximately $550 per year. If potty training is achieved by 36 months the total cost is $1650. Remember, 49% of kids have not achieved daytime continence by 36 months and so they will cost more than $1650 if disposable diapers are used. The sooner you toilet train your child the more money you will save and the earth will thank you too.

There are three main ways of toddlers being able to control a situation, and including:

  • temper tantrums.
  • picky eating.
  • refusing Potty Training.

There are three key factors for short, successful Potty Training:

  1. Have a clear, confident & encouraging attitude. You must actually feel like this; not just acting as your child reads your tone, expression and body language perfectly. Be gently assertive ‘It is time to go to the potty now’. During potty training never ask children ‘Do you want to go to the potty?’ as it invites a negative response and a power struggle is more likely. Keep your tone, facial expression and body language neutral when you child has an accident. Be positive and enthusiastic when they have a success.
  2. Ditch the diaper. Use Conni Tackers training pants which can provide a sense of freedom from the diaper, and encourage movement in to standard underwear.
  3. Be consistent in your approach to avoid confusing your child. Set aside time so you can be self-disciplined enough to teach your child gently. Being on holidays is a great time. Potty Training is a skill that your child needs to practice to get right so gently and consistently keep going forward.


*1 – Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Contract No. 290-02-0023

*2 – Bakker and Wyndaele, 2000; Martin et al, 1984; Schum et al, 2002

*3 – Blum, N J, B Taubman, and N Nemeth. “Relationship between Age at Initiation of Potty Training and Duration of Potty Training: A Prospective Study.” Pediatrics 111 (2003): 810-14