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If you think your little girl is ready to ditch the diapers, take cues from your toddler. You may notice signs of readiness earlier in girls than boys. But it’s always important to approach the task of potty training with patience.
When you think she’s ready, here’s how to potty train your daughter.
Age isn’t as important as physical and emotional readiness. Around age 2, many children start to show more interest in the idea of potty training, but some may be closer to age 3. Avoid rushing into potty training. Starting before your daughter is ready could make the process take much longer.
Signs like these may indicate that your daughter is emotionally and physically ready to begin potty training:
- she’s taking an interest in the potty chair or toilet
- she’s interested in wearing underwear
- she’s able to understand and follow simple instructions
- she can express through words or body language when she needs to go
- she stays dry for several hours at a time during the day
- she has regular bowel movements at mostly predictable times
- she dislikes wet or dirty diapers
- she can pull her own pants down and up again
If you think the time is right, start with a positive attitude. This is an exciting new step for you and your daughter. Be prepared for successes and setbacks, and remember that she’ll get there on her own schedule.
Set your daughter up for potty training success with these steps.
Choose a potty chair or toilet seat attachment
Some girls may benefit from the pride of ownership that comes with having their very own potties. Others may prefer to use a step stool to climb up to the big toilet. You can buy a potty seat adapter to make your existing toilet work.
Either way, make this purchase exciting. When you’re home, encourage your daughter to sit on the new potty or potty seat. If you go the attachment route, make sure it attaches securely and that her feet can reach the step stool comfortably.
Toddlers learn through imitation, so letting your daughter watch you in the bathroom is a great place to start. Use accurate names for body parts, and speak matter-of-factly in an age-appropriate manner. Explain how mommies, daddies, and siblings use the potty, including how to flush and wash your hands.
If your daughter insists on standing to pee, which may be the case if she’s seen brothers or her dad use the toilet, don’t fight it. It will be a quick (if messy!) way for her to learn that different parts mean girls should sit down to use the potty.
Schedule potty time
If your daughter seems interested, try to schedule regular time to sit on the potty. Remove her diaper or pull up and sit her down. Be sure to praise her even just for sitting there. You may consider getting a special potty book that you can read together.
Watch her closely
Look for signs that your daughter needs to use the toilet. If she’s squatting, holding her genital area, or squirming, move fast. Take her to the potty and encourage her to pee or poop.
Big girl underpants or pullup diapers can be big motivators. You may find yourself cleaning up a few messes, but she’ll begin making the link with how she feels before needing to pee or poop, to what happens next. It’s probably best to stick to diapers at night and work on mastering the potty with underwear or pullups during the day. You can also try a sticker chart for successful potty breaks. Letting her flush can also be a big reward.
Know when to quit
If your daughter becomes resistant to using the potty, don’t push her. Take a break, and introduce the idea again in a few weeks.
One of the big things for girls to learn is how to wipe. When she’s got the hang of using the potty and she’s showing interest in wiping herself, teach her how to wipe from front to back to avoid introducing germs from the rectum into the vagina or bladder.
Accidents will happen, so remember to be patient and calm. Don’t scold or shame your daughter for an accident. Try offering frequent reminders, especially:
- after getting up in the morning
- after eating meals and snacks
- before leaving the house
- before going to bed
Remember, potty training takes time and patience. Try to keep a sense of humor about this milestone, and remember that it’s certain to happen sooner or later.
How can parents tell if a toddler is ready for potty training?
Your child may begin to show some interest in potty training. This typically happens between the ages of 2 and 3. Some signs that your child may be ready to begin are if they start to show interest in the toilet or watching you use the bathroom. If your child requests a diaper change due to a soiled diaper, or tells you that they are about to pee or poop before soiling their diaper, these may be other signs that your child is ready to begin potty training.Kate Mena, MD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.