Boys and girls go potty

When to Start Potty Training Boys – is he ready?

My little boy turned two years old last week, and for the last couple of months I’ve been thinking about potty training, and when to start potty training boys in particular, considering that boys are generally a little further behind in their development than girls. There’s arguments that boys can be easier to potty train than girls, but ultimately, it’s difficult to find the answer on when to start potty training boys or girls. All of the advice suggests that it depends on the individual child.


Early potty training techniques

I’ll tell you now that this post is NOT going to cover early potty training techniques, a.k.a. “elimination communication”. VEry briefly, I’ll explain what this is, but clearly you can see that I am not following this method of potty training, since my son is already 2 and we haven’t attempted potty training yet!

The idea behind elimination communication is for the parent to closely monitor and look for communication signals from your infant that they are “eliminating” their waste. The technique can be used on very young infants, even as young as 3 months’ old. By learning your baby’s usual patterns and their signals that they may be weeing or pooing (for example if he or she makes a similar noise or expression every time), then the idea is that you would then remove their diaper and hold them over a potty or toilet. Whilst holding the baby over the potty, you positively reinforce that this is the time for them to go to the toilet, using word association so that they learn that this is the time to go. This phrase or noise (such as saying “it’s pee pee time”) should be repeated every time so that it becomes a signal for the child to relieve themselves.

Some parents that use elimination communication have their child potty trained by the age of 12-18 months, which just seems unbelievable and incredible to me, having never known anybody personally apply this potty training technique! It requires a lot of dedication in the early days, since the whole process is reliant on the parent being in tune with their child, and requires a lot of patience from the parent – something which I definitely do not have!

As I said before though, this article is NOT about elimination communication, it’s more about your bog standard (excuse the pun) potty training, which most parents begin when their child is between 18-30 months. Many experts are very much for this approach, as it takes a certain amount of time for the pelvic floor muscles to fully develop, and it is these muscles that are needed in order to control bladder and bowel movements.


Indications that your boy is ready When to Start Potty Training Boysto start potty training:

  • He knows when he has weed or pooed in his diaper, for example, if you ask him has he pooed, he will correctly answer yes or no.
  • He tells you when he is doing a wee in his diaper, or may tell you in advance.
  • He may go somewhere private in order to wee or poo in his diaper.
  • He may become fidgety and uncomfortable in his diaper after he has weed or pooed.
  • The time between him doing wees has lengthened, for example you may find his diaper is still dry if you try to change him too soon (90 minutes or longer).
  • Poos are regular and formed.


How to potty train a boy

Boys are encouraged to start potty training sitting
down rather than standing up. The obvious reason for this being: men have enough trouble aiming at the toilet when they are 24 years old, so imagine the mess you would have from cleaning up after a 24 month old! Wait until your son has mastered the potty sitting down before you allow him to stand up to pee.

There is some argument that the reason boys are generally a few months behind girls when it comes to potty training is because it is usually the mother taking the lead with potty training. To help overcome this, the obvious solution is to involve your son’s father as much as possible, and ask him to also set the example with your son. This also means asking your partner to do things in the same way that you are teaching your son – in other words, sitting down to pee. I know that a lot of men do this on occasion anyway – in the middle of the night being the time in our household, which I am thankful for! – so it shouldn’t pose a problem for them. When the time comes to encourage your boy to pee standing up, popping some Cheerios into the bowl before he goes to help him to aim can make things fun.

A really good way to introduce your son to the idea of using the potty is to allow them to follow you into the bathroom when you go to use the toilet. If you pull out his potty, then sit down to do your own business, you may find that he follows you into the bathroom and sits on the potty to mimic you. I’ve been starting to do this with my son when I’m running his bath at bedtime, and he now frequently comes to sit on the potty (still fully clothed) and has started to say words such as “momma poo poo there, I poo poo here”, which is a great indication he understands what the potty is used for. We have recently started to sit him on the potty with his diaper off, just before we put him into the bath too, but had no successes yet. We haven’t pushed this any further, as I’m still not convinced he is fully ready to progress with full potty training.

One top tip which I’ve come across whilst preparing for our potty training journey, and something I’ve never heard before is to place a folder piece of kitchen towel into your son’s diaper for a few days before you start potty training. If you are currently using disposable diapers, you have to remember that they are super absorbent, and so your son may not even realise when he is wet. By using the kitchen towel for a few days, then he will realise when he is wet, and this can help him to understand when he is peeing and why he should be using the potty to avoid the uncomfortable feeling.

Reward charts work really well with boys, especially if you can buy some stickers in their favourite superhero or cartoon character (Peppa Pig is highly likely to feature on ours!). Also, buying your son some really special big boy pants to wear once he is potty trained will also give him an incentive to stop wearing his diapers.


Recommended potties for boys

Pourty Easy-to-pour Potty

This is our potty of choice, well actually it’s the only one we’vePourty Blue bought so far! It comes in an array of colours, we went with purple as a step away from the gender stereotypical blue option. Pourty’s come with rave reviews from parents who want to make their own lives as easy as possible – it’s patented easy pour rear means that there’s less spillages when you are tipping the pee into the toilet afterwards. One thing I have noticed though is that my son has quite a large bum, and he doesn’t seem to have a great deal of room on it when he is sat down with no diaper on. I’m a little concerned that when he pees, we may end up with some mess, but I haven’t had any experience of this yet.


LuvdBaby Potty ChairLuvdbaby Potty Chair

I have a feeling we may be heading towards a potty chair for our big booty boy, so that he is more comfortable when sitting down on it. The LuvdBaby potty chair is a sturdy design, and looks funky enough that your son will be wanting to test it out as his own special chair. It is a good idea to use a potty chair if you have a particularly tall child, or are potty training an older toddler. The disadvantage of a potty chair is that if your child gets attached to their particular potty, then it’s more bulky to transport around with you when you are visiting friends and family.


Just4baby Toilet Ladder and Seat

Another option is to jump straight to toiletJust4baby Toilet Ladder and Seat training and skipping the potty altogether, however this is usually more successful with older toddlers since it’s usually quite difficult to get up to the toilet. This all in one steps plus seat which clips onto your existing toilet is really convenient, and also folds away for storage. The other beauty of taking this approach…. you won’t have to scoop poop out of a potty every time your son goes!


Wish us luck!

We’re planning on attempting potty training for the first time in December, right before Christmas. With baby number two due in mid-Jan, my husband and I are keen to tackle the potty before things turn newborn crazy again for a while. Whilst we are both off work over Christmas and New Year seems like the perfect opportunity to go for it, since we will be at home for most of the festive period.

I would love to hear about any potty training successes of boys or girls at the age of 2 years, so please comment below to encourage us on our next adventure! I’m also intrigued to hear from anybody who had success with the early potty training “elimination communication” technique, just to satisfy my intrigue 🙂 Please share this post with any of your friends and family who are about to embark on this chapter of their parenting career.

6 responses to “When to Start Potty Training Boys – is he ready?

  1. Chris

    Glad we found this article as my partner and I got this side of things very wrong with my youngest son. We were told to start training him a little earlier than we were comfortable with and it ended up very upseting for him. He was scared with things ‘coming out of his body’ if you get my meaning and when we went back to nappies for him he was still holding it in – something we will never do again!

    1. Caroline Post author

      Hi Chris,

      I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience with your son, it does sound very similar to why I think my son isn’t quite ready yet. We had an incident the other night when he knelt up in the bath and clenched like he was trying to poo, asked him if he wanted to poo and he said yes so we got him out and encouraged him to sit on the potty to do it. He went stiff as a board and would not sit down for us! We didn’t push him though and just got him into a nappy instead as I’m really worried about scaring him with the potty before we even start to potty train!

      How many times did you try with your son and at what age were you successful?


  2. John

    HI CWhiteley,

    Awesome site design and layout. Your content was interesting and relevant to me because my wife and I had our first child not too long ago. This article was a lifesaver for me as teaching my son how to potty train now that he is 18 months old has been quite a challenge. I am definitely going to take your teachings and apply them right away. I will let you know how they turn out.


    1. Caroline Post author

      Hi John,

      18 months old and potty training, good luck! Does he meet all the signs of being ready to potty train? How are your son’s communication skills?

      Please do let me know how things go and how long the pain of potty training lasts!


  3. Martina

    I have three kids (4, almost 3 and 19 months) and the oldest two are girls (and I’m due with our 4th in March.) We have been working with our almost 3yo girl for a few months now, and she is pretty good but still a
    has the occasional accident. Its definitely a process! My oldest was fine with potty training, and took to it pretty easily (peeing), but was really weirded out with pooping, so she actually didnt stop wearing pullups or anything until a few months after age 3. Im terrified (haha) to begin potty training our 19 month old as I have heard too that boys are harder. That is a great idea to begin with having them seated! That will take the pressure out of working on his aim while pottying. Our pediatrician warned us (when we were expecting number 2) that if we begin potty training our oldest (she was only 16 months when number 2 was born) that she might regress a little once the baby arrives. My son will turn 2 hopefully before number 4 arrives in March (I’m due within days of his birthday), so Im going to let us all adjust for a few months and if he is ready in the summer, begin working on potty training with then. Good luck to you!

    1. Caroline Post author

      Martina, congratulations on your family, how lovely that you have your children all so close in age!

      I’m really interested in reading your story as you have now been through the potty training process twice. I have a feeling that our son may be the same with pooping, he doesn’t seem to want to bend over whilst pooping, I always find him stood, clenched and stiff as a board!

      Our son has just turned 2 a couple of weeks ago, and baby is due in January, so we’re keen to get him potty trained before the baby arrives, although I’m sure it would probably be easier to wait until the summer because of the inevitable increase in laundry when cleaning up accidents!My husband will be off work in January and February though, so I’m hoping he can sort the potty training for me whilst I look after the baby. I could be dreaming though!



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