The transition from diapers to potty may be tricky. Practice, patience and positivity can help.

By 18 months of age, your little one’s digestive system and bladder have likely developed enough for her to start learning to use the potty, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Physical readiness, however, isn’t the only important factor that helps determine when to start potty training.

“Children should be able to sense the urge to use the bathroom, communicate verbally that they need to go, be able to pull down pants and sit on a potty, and show interest in using the toilet,” says Jennifer Foersterling, MD, a Washington University clinical associate at Premier Pediatrics. “It’s important to begin extensive potty training only when your child is excited to start and ready.”

Go, Ahead
Dr. Foersterling offers the following tips to help children learn to use the potty:

  • Introduce the potty slowly. Buy a potty chair and let your child sit and play on it.
  • Get in a routine. Let your child try to use the potty after meals and before bedtime and bathtime.
  • Celebrate success. Track your child’s success with a sticker chart. Add a sticker for each use of the potty and reward her with a special outing when she earns several.  
  • Be patient. Setbacks, such as accidents, are normal parts of the process. Potty training takes time, but your child will get there.

Need more tips? St. Louis Children’s Hospital offers “Diapers to Underpants” parent presentations.  Visit to learn more.