Is it Time to Potty Train?

How to spot a potty-ready toddler and pediatrician pointers to get you started training.

Is it Time to Potty Train?

Like many milestones with the Second Child, potty training seems to have taken me by surprise. I still think of my 20-month-old as a baby, and find myself completely shocked when, after he wakes up from a nap in his crib, I hear a very big-boy-sounding, “Mommy!” coming from his room.

My timeline for potty training my elder son was largely dictated by what all of my mom friends were doing with their similarly-aged kids and I remember approaching it with lots of preparation and anxiety. But with my second, who basically has one friend (I’ve been too busy taking care of two kids to make brand new mom friends), there’s been no rush or external pressure to initiate things like potty training, and so, it had kind of slipped my mind.

That is, until somewhat recently, when my “baby” started hanging around the toilet with a little more than passing interest. He’s become curious about the whole process – from unraveling ALL of the toilet paper to wielding the toilet brush like a sorcerer’s wand. And then, a few weeks ago, when I put him on the potty on a lark, he actually went Number Two! It turned out to be a one-time thing (beginner’s luck?) but I realize that, crap, it is indeed Potty Training Season.

I am now gearing up for a messy and exhausting period wherein I will be going through many a disinfectant wipe and even more tears, but luckily, I have a pretty handy weapon in my arsenal this time around: a super-chic and functional 3-in-1 potty from Übbi. Not only does it look nice in my only bathroom (shocking), but it also transitions from a potty, to a potty training seat and cute stand-alone stool.

Another great weapon? Potty training pointers from a pediatrician. Dr. Tiffany Otto Knipe of Washington Market Pediatrics in Tribeca says the most important thing is to follow my child’s lead.

“Really, this is one of the few things in parenting that it is better to be one step behind your child on – rather than ahead,” she says. “Let your toddler show you when he or she is ready. You may end up waiting longer than your friends to have a potty-trained child – but chances are, the process will be shorter, smoother and have fewer long-term negative consequences. It’s worth the wait, trust me.”

Below she offers a few more great tips to make your potty training a breeze:

Around what age would you recommend we start looking for signs of potty training readiness? And what are the signs?

This is an age of tremendous emotional and psychological growth for your child. Potty training encompasses many of the issues your toddler is sorting out now, including independence, self-regulation (mastery of his or her body) and social awareness. Most children are ready sometime around age 3 years. Some kids are ready at 2 and some not until 4 years. There is a huge range of “normal.” Often, first children take longer to train than their younger sibs – because the younger ones have their older sibs as models for their behavior.

In order for your child to be ready for using the potty, he needs to be able to sense the urge, know what that feeling means, then be able to verbalize the need for assistance or be physically capable of getting to the bathroom and taking care of business. The very first steps towards potty training involve your child knowing (and usually caring) when his diaper is full. Taking off the diaper, complaining or crying when it is dirty – those are all good signs! When your child starts to show interest in YOU or your spouse or his sib using the bathroom – that too, is a first step. Encourage him to join you in the bathroom. Let him watch and see what happens in there. Have Potty Parties! Get him his own potty to sit on next to you while you are on yours. Let him first sit with his clothes on and get comfortable with the seat. If he wants to sit on the potty with his clothes and diaper off – even better!

You can help facilitate your child making that mind-body connection by letting him run around naked (especially from the waist down). Summer time is an ideal time to do this – if you have a yard, you can let him run around outside naked. Then “accidents” are not so bothersome. They are simply a perfect way for your child to figure out how his body works!

We've heard so many potty training methods. The "three day" one seems to be pretty popular. Are you a fan?

Don’t put pressure on your child – or yourself – by imposing time limits and structures on potty training. Follow your child’s lead. When he is ready to use the potty, he will.

Lots of kids seem to be OK when it comes to peeing in the toilet, but going Number Two seems to be the tough one. Any tips on getting your little one to poop in the potty?

This is more often an issue when potty training gets imposed on your child. Remember, you are following HIS lead. If he wants to poop in his diaper – let him. Then open up the diaper together, show him the poop and with his help, flush it down the potty. Let him flush and say goodbye to the poop. Kids often see their poops as part of themselves – and it may require a little ceremony to let it go. Go along with it. He will get the message eventually. Whatever you do, do not reprimand him for pooping in the diaper. If he is able to tell you he needs a diaper to poop in – you are more than half way there because: 1) he recognized the feeling/urge, 2) he understood what that urge meant and 3) he was able to verbalize the need for assistance. Now the only teensy hurdle you need to overcome, is getting the poop IN the potty. You can praise your child for what he DID accomplish, and remind him the next step for a Big Kid is to get the poop right into the potty.

What are your thoughts on using rewards (M&M's, stickers) after successful potty sessions?

Positive rewards and interactive games are all great to use when potty training! Remember, there are lots of incremental steps that most kids need to take in order to be potty-trained – so praise each one. Don’t just focus on praising the “goal,” for example, when your child tells you he needs to pee and then does so on the living room floor. Try something like this: “That was great how you listened to your body and then told me you had to pee! Next time, let’s try to get the pee in the potty.”

For boys, throwing some fruit loops or cheerios in the potty can be fun target practice and make peeing in the potty fun. Reward the successes, but never, ever, punish or reprimand the failures when it comes to potty training. Your child WANTS to be successful at this – really, he does! He WANTS to please you! But he is likely not going to do any of it until he is READY. On his own terms. Be patient. Your child is not going to kindergarten in diapers.

This information is meant only as a guideline, not as medical advice. It is important to discuss this topic with your child’s pediatrician.

Illustration by Miranda Bruce for Well Rounded NY.

This post was brought to you by Übbi.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less