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Potty training signs: Five things toddlers do that convince you they are ready but maybe they are not

Potty training is never easy, and its doubly difficult to spot those tell tale potty training signs…..

But our little ones don’t half make it hard for us as well, by actually looking like they might be ready, when actually they very probably aren’t.

We need to remember that potty training readiness is a combination of signs. And its very hard decoding our loved ones bottoms at the best of times, not least when they are determined to make it difficult for us.

So, in true parenting style, another post on our kids toilet habits, after the weekend’s one that explored the time I have wasted in the loo on trips out.

Here are some of the little toddler tricks that can make us think they are ready for the potty, but actually it might be best to wait that little bit longer:

  • The nappy bailout; toddlers seem to love to remove their nappies. This can, of course, happen at the most embarrassing of times – particularly if its wet, full of No 2. or placed on the head. But toddlers explore their nappies even when they aren’t ready to ditch them yet. Toddlers explore everything, so why should a nappy be any different?
  • The contemplative poo; we have all seen the toddler do one of these. They stop while they think about doing it, do it, and then carry on whatever it was that was interrupted.  It’s as though they have to pay attention to it while it’s on it’s way. But knowing they are poo-ing is a million miles away from actually knowing that particular feeling before they need to go
  • The wet alert; this is similar to the above.  Toddlers will sometimes tell you that they are wet or wee-ing.  It is much harder to tell they are wet in disposables as they are designed to take it away from delicate bums. Real nappies can really help toddlers to recognise they are wet. They helped my little Chatterbox. However, again, while you wee is different to before you wee. And remember it needs to be a reasonable amount before otherwise, guess what; the couch gets it again
  • The sit in; get a potty out and your toddler may sit on it fully clothed for hours. This may not mean they are ready to use it.  It may mean that the potty is new, and therefore dead interesting
  • The post bath wee; sometimes toddlers sit on the potty after bath, and they then wee in it.  The combination of the running water, the time of day, and the relaxation a bath can bring, can cause them to wee. This is more timing than training, so don’t be fooled if this happens in isolation. It could all be a big confidence trick for you.

Its important to check for the potty training combination of signs, as well as making sure you don’t start that little bit too soon; when your child is going through that defiant phase. Defiance and potty training DO NOT go together.

Chatterbox was 2 and three quarters and made it in a week. Stuntboy was just over three and took a bit longer than a week with No. 2s, but we all know what a weird feeling needing one of those is; so I don’t blame him on that one! He was someone that went straight from the nappy to the toilet, I think because he saw his sister using it. Younger kids can do this, though sometimes this is coupled with anxieties about sitting on a hard toilet seat, or trapping fingers.

If you are potty training and need any help, then do check out our potty training charts. We used them with ours and they did wonders. Just choose a reward for them, and everytime they use the potty, colour in a space or put a sticker on. They love them – and add a photo so they can be a princess, fairy, racing driver or a spaceman…what more do you want.

If you have any other thoughts on potty training and the little tricks your toddlers have played, do share them here. I would love to hear from you. Take care, and good luck!

Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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Thursday 22nd of March 2012

We had a relatively easy transition into potty training - I wasn't really expecting to train my son at all yet, thinking that he was too young at 2 and 3 months. Most people said that boys train older and so I had it in my head that he would be around 3 or so before we tried. But he saw someone else at creche being trained and that was it - he wanted in on the action. He wasn't really showing the classic signs - announcing he was wet or pulling down his own pants. But within a week, he was trained and it turned out he was very capable of pulling down his own pants. I think it just hadn't entered his head to do so beforehand!

Helen Neale

Thursday 22nd of March 2012

Fantastic for you and him! It's great when they get it and lead us, makes it so much less painful for all concerned. My DD was the same. Just announced she wanted to wear big girl pants one day and that was it.


Monday 12th of March 2012

I am indeed currently potty training. Some days I think one more accident and it's back in nappies - but to be fair to him he didn't hit one of your reasons he's not ready. My post is here - and if I remember rightly there's a linky somewhere on toilet training.

Lisa Baker

Tuesday 6th of March 2012

Helen i loved reading your post about potty training. My 2nd child took to weeing on the toilet no problem from watching her older sister, but oh boy how many times did she poo in her pants! i even resorted back to pull-ups: however she got there in the end, they always do when their ready xx

Helen Neale

Tuesday 6th of March 2012

Glad you liked it! They do indeed get there when they are ready, you are right - my son was good thanks to his older sister too...but as I said, poo-ing in the right place wasn't his forte to start with!

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