Help! My Toddler Won't Go on the Potty!

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Parents

My 2½-year-old son shows no interest in the potty. Is he destined to be in diapers forever?
- Melinda

Even though it might seem like that's where you're headed, your son will be wearing underpants before you know it. Just like with walking and talking, kids develop at their own pace when learning to use the potty.

Most kids begin to show signs that they are ready for toilet teaching between the ages of 18 and 24 months but it's not uncommon to go later, especially for boys. When deciding if your son is ready for big-boy pants, look for signs of "readiness," which include:

  • following simple instructions
  • understanding words about the toileting process
  • showing an interest in using the potty or wearing underpants
  • verbally expressing a need to go
  • keeping a diaper dry for 2 hours or more
  • pulling down diapers, disposable training pants, or underpants
  • getting to the potty, sitting on it, and then getting off the potty
  • controlling the muscles responsible for elimination

If your son is showing no interest in the potty, it's OK to put it off a couple of months. In the meantime, you can model toileting yourself and read potty books to him. Keep the potty chair accessible and eventually he'll be ready to sit on it.

Once your son is ready, the process can last 3 to 6 months. The good news is that, in general, the later you start, the shorter the training period. Make sure to praise him for the behavior, even if there is no result. You can even offer incentives like stickers to encourage him along. If you have questions or concerns, talk to your doctor.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: October 2013



Related Resources

OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
Web SiteZero to Three Zero to Three is a national nonprofit organization that promotes the health and development of infants and toddlers.


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Toilet Teaching Your Child Even before your child is ready to try the potty, you can prepare your little one by teaching about the process. Here are some tips.
Soiling (Encopresis) If your child has bowel movements in places other than the toilet, you know how frustrating it can be. Many kids who soil beyond the years of toilet teaching have a condition known as encopresis.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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