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Who's Ready for a Potty?

It's hard not to want to toilet train your little one as soon as she can walk. Your friend tells you her 18-month-old boy potty trained in a week. The daycare refuses to take kids who aren't toilet-trained. And it seems there is a bright and shiny new potty in every home you visit. That's a lot of pressure!

Welcome to potty training anxiety. A very common parenting phenomenon that can be put to an abrupt end by asking yourself one simple question: Is my little one even ready to potty train yet?

"Every child is unique and will be ready to potty train at a different age, so there's no need to stress yourself out or compare your child to other toddlers," says Kathrym Espana, M.D., a pediatrician at Texas Children's Pediatrics Fannin in Houston.

Although research indicates that the best time to start potty training is when a toddler is between 24 to 32 months old, Espana says the most ideal time is when your little one is developmentally ready.

Here are some signs that indicate your kiddo is ready to give it a go.

She knows when it's time.

Maybe she squats, grunts or tugs on her diaper. Perhaps she uses a word to let you know. When your child shares that she's about to poop or pee, it means that she is becoming aware of what it feels like when she has to go potty. That's key.

The potty interests her.

Bring up the potty as a topic of conversation. Does your little one like talking about it? Will she sit on it? If so, you're heading in the right direction. Tears or resistance at the mere mention of a potty means-oops, the timing isn't right.

She understands directions.

Ask your little one to "sit down" or "stand up." Does she get what you're asking her to do? More importantly, does she do it? She needs to be able to comprehend and follow through on instructions before she's ready to be toilet trained.

Her diapers stay dry longer.

Surprise! Your toddler wakes up from her nap and her diaper is completely dry. Then you go on a playdate and don't even have to change her. Once she's staying dry for periods of two hours or more, it's a sure sign that she is developmentally on her way.

She has more motor skills.

You know walking is a must before you can train, but other gross and fine motor skills are required, too. Your little one needs to be able to have proper finger and hand coordination so that she can pull her pants up and down. The ability to sit down on the potty -and get back up again-is also a must.

Remember, only 40 to 60 percent of toddlers complete potty training by the time they are three years old, so no worries if your little one isn't on the same timeline as her peers or siblings. It will happen when she is ready. Until then, it wouldn't hurt to just browse the potty aisle the next time you're alone at the store.

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