Q&A: Can an 18-month-old girl be ready for potty training?
My daughter is 18 months old. She's extremely intelligent and such a good baby. Lately she has been taking off her diaper a lot, she tries to flush the toilet, and she always follows me into the bathroom and never wants her diaper on. I don't know if she just sees me do it and tries to copy me but I have a feeling she wants to stop being in diapers. People tell me she's too young but I believe it depends on the baby and I truly believe she's ready to be potty trained. What do you think? I need an expert's advice!
I am so glad you asked the question instead of listening to the people who are telling you your daughter is too young to be potty trained. The reason I say this is because you’ve already answered several of the most common questions I, and other children’s health professionals, routinely ask when helping parents identify signs of potty training readiness. Some of these tell-tale signs include accomplishing simple skills such as being able to toddle or walk to the bathroom and the ability to take off one’s clothes (or diaper). Children who are ready to potty train also typically copy adults and older children, both in general and in regards to the tasks involved in using the potty. Your daughter seems to be happily doing all of these things. Other common signs that children are ready to potty train that you can look for include being able to follow basic directions and having an awareness of when she has a wet or dirty diaper (and better yet, wanting to have it changed).
While it is true that the current age of potty training in the United States nowadays occurs a bit later than 18 months—more typically between 2 and 3 years—it’s a good idea to remind yourself that every child is different. In instances like yours (and mine, for that matter, since two of my three kids potty trained before the age of 2!), I am a fan of following a child’s lead and taking advantage of his/her interest in the potty. This is very different from forcing a disinterested toddler to use the potty, and can definitely result in early success. You’ll just want to be clear about what you define as success. Sure, some toddlers are able to master potty training without any subsequent accidents. But others can take quite a bit longer before they are completely accident-free.
For your purposes, I’d simply be sure to set realistic expectations (i.e. don’t let accidents upset you), offer your daughter plenty of positive and stress-free opportunities to sit on, use, and flush the potty, and always remember that potty training can and should be approached as a fun learning experience. I so strongly believe in this positive approach that I recently co-authored a children’s book on the subject that you may also find helpful called You and Me Against the Pee. I hope this helps you work collaboratively as a team as your daughter successfully become smarter than her poop and her pee!