There is no specific age for when a girl is ready to begin potty training. Some children develop the skills necessary to use the potty on their own between 18 and 24 months of age, but it is just as natural for a child to not start showing interest in potty training until age 3 or 4. Either way, don’t push your child to potty train before she is ready. This will only make the process take longer.
While every child is different and will be ready for potty training at different ages, there are some general similarities. Girls are typically ready to potty train sooner than boys, possibly because they are faster at developing bowel and bladder control and are often more receptive to hygiene. Boys also tend to take longer at potty training. In families with multiple children, the first-born child typically picks up potty training later than her siblings.
If your child is ready to start potty training, she should be showing signs that she is in control of her bladder and bowels. One sign that she has enough physical control is if she can stay dry for periods of at least 3 or 4 hours. Other signs are if she urinates a good amount at one time and has has well-formed bowel movements at fairly predictable times.
Motor Skill Signs
Your child also needs to show that she has mastered a few basic motor skills. She should be able to walk, climb and run fairly steadily, which demonstrates that she has enough coordination to use the toilet by herself. This includes being able to pull her pants up and down by herself. She should also be be able to ask simple questions.
Behavioral signs can be even more important than the physical signs, because children are often physically ready for potty training before they are emotionally ready. A good indication is if she shows a desire for independence and has become much more cooperative; she must be beyond the stage of automatically saying “no” to every request. She should also show interest in people’s bathroom habits, feel uncomfortable wearing wet or dirty diapers, and be able to let you know when she is having a bowel movement, maybe by squatting, grunting or telling you.
Another sign that your child is ready to start potty training is if she demonstrates the mental ability to follow and understand the potty process. She needs to be able to follow simple instructions as well as comprehend the physical sensations, like fullness, that signal an oncoming bowel movement. She should also be able to say a few words that prove she understands the elimination process, such as “pee-pee” or “potty.”