Most toddlers are able to learn to control their bowels by 18 to 24 months and their bladder by 24 to 30 months.
Night bladder control varies, but most children are dry at night by 36 months.
Toilet teaching earlier than 36 months not only pressures the child but is unsuccessful and both delays and makes learning difficult.
The toddler may be ready for bowel training when the stools get to be regular, and when the toddler is aware of the bowel movement. Proceed with a relaxed and non-pressuring attitude. Your child needs praise for successes - but don't be disappointed if there are accidents. Don't tease, scold or punish.
Steps to take for bowel training:
Use a potty to allow your child's feet to rest solidly on the floor.
Place the potty in the bathroom and do not move it to other rooms.
Let your child sit on the potty a few times with clothes on.
Start to let your child sit on it after every meal with no diapers.
Talk to your toddler about what the potty is for.
Empty the content of dirty diapers in the potty to develop understanding.
Don't leave your toddler sitting on the pot for more than five minutes.
Don't allow the potty to be used to sit, to eat, to play, to look at books or television. It is only for training.
Urination usually occurs with the bowel movement and so it is difficult for the child to separate the two acts. Bowel training has to be established for toddlers to relate to urination as a separate function. Girls may be faster to make this connection. Boys learn to urinate by first, sitting, and later, learning to stand. Watching an older brother or father will help.
Help your child use the pot more often: first thing in the morning, every two hours in the day, last thing before going to bed. Change from diapers to training pants during the day as soon as your toddler learns to use the potty regularly.
Your toddler needs to be able to use the potty regularly during the day before starting naptime and nighttime training. Then change from diapers to training pants for naps and sleeps. Put a plastic sheet under the bed linen.
Toilet learning may take longer than you expected. There will be accidents even after the toddler seems to have full control. Don't hesitate to discuss the progress with your physician.
Taken from The Canadian Baby & Child Care Encyclopedia.
By Katerina Haka-Ikse, MD, FRCP(C), FAAP|March 15, 2007