Development Physical & Emotional

6 Signs Your Child Is NOT Ready For Potty Training

Ah potty training, one of the inescapable milestones of raising a child!

If you are starting to wonder whether your child is fully ready for potty training then you’re not alone, because it’s hard to really know if your little one is 100% ready until you give it a try.

Having said that, there are definitely some signs that parents should look out for that might indicate that it is too early to start the process.

I have seen other children start the process too soon and then go back to diapers after potty training, and while it’s possible to do that, it’s far from ideal.

So to avoid a situation like this, let’s flip the situation on its head and examine what to look for in a child that is not ready to be potty trained just yet.

Signs Your Child Is NOT Ready For Potty Training

I am a big believer in looking at things head on as well as in reverse, particularly because doing the latter can really help you identify if you’re missing when making a decision.

In this article I have therefore put together six reliable signs that you can use to assess if your child is not ready for potty training.

If you can spot these signs when assessing your child or toddler, it may be worth delaying the process, particularly if your child is exhibiting several of these signs.

Here are some things that will help you decide if the time is not quite to begin potty training your little boy or girl right now:

1. Your Child Shows No Interest In Using The Potty

Children that are ready to begin potty training typically show an interest in using a potty.

This is especially true if they are around other kids at daycare who have started potty training.

Sure, your little boy or girl might not be massively excited about using the potty, but if they aren’t even curious or aware about what a potty is, they’re probably not ready.

This is where it can be useful to buy a potty in advance, and to give your child the opportunity to see it.

If you’ve bought them a potty in a cool color that you think they’ll like but it’s totally ignored, then you can use this disinterest as a proxy for them not being quite ready to use it.

BabyBjörn Potty Chair, Available in 7 Colors ($29.99, Amazon)

2. Your Child Refuses To Sit On The Potty

Next up is if your child outright refuses to sit down on a potty, even if they are fully dressed.

This is a big watch-out, because as I can confirm from experience when training my daughter, part of getting used to using a potty is sitting on it for some time even if no pee comes out.

So if your child is unwilling to even sit on their potty and shows a lot of resistance to it, then it’s probably too early to start training them.

The same also applies to if they are scared of the potty, and especially the toilet, which can be scary and noisy to a child who doesn’t understand what it is.

3. Your Child Can’t Tell You When They Need The Toilet (Or Hold Their Bladder)

Your child needs to be able to communicate with you when they need a pee or poo, and be aware that they’ve just done either, in order to successfully use a potty.

In addition, your child also need to have control of their bladder too, which includes things like:

  • Knowing they have a wet or dirty diaper or nappy.
  • Knowing when they are actually  peeing or pooping, and being able to tell you about it.
  • Knowing they need to pee or poop in advance, and going off somewhere quiet to do their stuff in peace and privacy.

If you don’t recognize any of the above in your child right now, it’s a pretty good indicator that you shouldn’t start the process right now.

4. Your Child Is Unable To Stay Dry For Long Enough

In general, children show signs of bladder and bowel control between 18 and 24 months of age.

Most experts will tell you that your child needs to be able to consistently control their bladder, and therefore maintain a dry diaper for around 2 hours, before they are truly ready to use a potty or toilet.

Think about it, when you and I need to use the bathroom, we are able to hold everything in for some time until we have access to a toilet.

And when using a potty your child will need to do the same, or else they will soil their clothes.

A child who isn’t ready to be potty trained will therefore have a dry diaper for only a short period of time (say one hour or less), because they are peeing and pooping either unpredictably or at best too frequently to be able to use a toilet.

Toddler Holding a Red Toy Car

5. Your Child Cannot Undress Themselves

Lastly, in order to use successfully use a potty it’s important that your child is able to undress themselves.

If your child is unable to pull their pants down, even if their pants are elastic at the waist, then you might want to wait a little bit before starting potty training.

6. Other Considerations

Lastly, it’s worth bearing in mind that any significant changes at home can make potty training more challenging.

For this reason it’s a good idea it delay toilet or potty training if:

  • Your family has just moved or will move in the near future.
  • You are expecting a baby or have recently had a baby.
  • There is a major illness, a recent death, or some other family crisis.

See Also: Navigating Your Child’s Early Development

What About Taking A Potty Training Quiz?

When trying to figure out if your baby is ready for potty training or not, it can be really helpful to ask yourself a few questions that are generally believed to be great indicators about what action to take next.

Potty training quizzes are a great way to help you figure out where your child is on the readiness spectrum, which is why we have put together our own fun quiz with 18 questions to help you decide!


As any expert will tell you, every child is different, so it’s best not to compare your child with others in any facet of development, least not potty training.

I’ve seen children well under two years of age crack it and make it look effortless, and at the same time I’ve witnessed other children who are closer to the age of three really struggle with potty training.

What’s important is to not rush your child, because starting too early might lead to a regression back into diapers, or at best a much lengthier process than needs had you started a little later.

Remember, you cannot force your child to use a potty and if they simply are not ready, there’s nothing you can do to make your child use it.

So if your little one isn’t ready then just stay patient and relaxed – trust me, your child won’t be in a diaper or nappy forever!

And remember that potty training is a process that involves both the body and the mind.

Your child needs to be aware of their bladder and bowl signals, they need to learn how to use the toilet, and lastly they need to be willing to the toilet.

So keep in mind that unless your child is can or is willing to do all of these three things, they are not ready to begin their journey into potty training just yet.

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

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