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Every child develops differently, and your child will master potty training on his own schedule. In the meantime, his body is maturing to get him ready to leave diapers behind.
While every child is different, this timeline gives a general idea of the physical changes your child will go through on her way to reaching two milestones: staying dry during the day and, eventually, at night.
0 to 8 months
Your baby can't control his bladder or bowel movements. In fact, he's probably not even aware of them. He pees and poops in response to a reflex, rather than conscious choice. He pees frequently, as often as 20 times each day. Activities like feeding, bathing, diaper changing, and even tickling may prompt him to pee.
9 to 12 months
Your baby will gradually begin to pee less frequently as her bladder grows in size and can hold larger amounts of urine.
She also begins to have some control over the muscles that hold urine in the bladder.
12 to 18 months
Your baby's starting to release his bladder consciously to ease the full feeling.
The same goes for feeling that he needs to poop. By 15 months, your toddler may be aware that he has pooped or wet himself. But he's not physically mature enough yet to be able to hold in his poop or pee.
18 to 24 months
Your child is probably still too young for formal potty training. But you may begin to notice early signs that she's getting ready. (See our potty training readiness checklist.)
Between 18 and 24 months, connections are forming between her brain, the nerves in her spinal cord, and muscles in her bladder. This needs to happen before she can begin potty training
At the same time, your child’s language skills are developing. She may tell you when she's about to pee or poop and will understand the difference between the two. And when she's finished, she may even tell you that her diaper needs to be changed.
She may start to talk to you about the potty and begin to sit on one that's her size (though probably fully clothed).
Your child’s also perfecting some skills that will be vital to using the bathroom independently later on: the hand strength and coordination that she'll eventually need to pull her pants down and back up.
24 to 36 months
This is the time when your child is learning to physically control his bladder and bowels. Your preschooler may or may not be ready to start potty training. Our potty training readiness checklist offers some guidance. Starting too early can make potty training stressful for both of you.
It can take around six months for a child to learn to be dry during the day, though you should still expect the odd accident.
Nighttime dryness comes later; it can take several months, or even years, for a child to become dry at night.
3 to 4 years
Most children are dry during the day by the age of 4. But if your child isn't one of them, try not to worry. Also keep in mind that nighttime dryness often comes months, or even years, later than daytime dryness.
As part of the bathroom routine, your child might need help pulling her pants down and back up, wiping herself, and washing her hands.
If he's waking up with dry training pants consistently for several weeks, it could be time to see if he can sleep without one. Make sure his mattress is well protected, and if he wets the bed, make sure he knows that it's normal and not his fault.
4 to 5 years
Your child can probably manage most aspects of going to the bathroom during the day, such as pulling her pants down and back up, wiping herself, and washing her hands.
Nighttime may be a different story, and it may take more months, or even years, to stay dry at night. Bed-wetting is very common and usually resolves on its own.
6 to 8 years
Some kids, especially if a parent wet the bed as a child, still need more time for their bodies to develop so that they can stay dry at night. About 10 percent of 7-year-olds and 5 percent of 10-year-olds wet their bed, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your child is still wetting the bed at age 7, you may want to talk to your child's doctor about bed-wetting treatments, such as a bed-wetting alarm.