The Pressure to Potty Train


Potty training has probably been one of the most intimidating things about parenthood for me. My daughter is 2.5, so the time is nearing every day. For a few months, she has been showing some interest in potty training, especially when she is around other children who use the potty.

She goes to daycare two half-days a week and she is also around other kids in the nursery at church every Sunday. Some of the awesome adults that watch her when she is around the big kids have been telling me that she seems ready for potty training. From their perspective, she’s been showing many of the signs.

the pressure to potty trainSo, just like every modern mom, I jumped online and started researching everything I could find. I researched potty training in general and also looked up potty training methods. I asked questions in a moms’ Facebook group about beginning potty training. I shopped around for step stools and potty seats.

Baby Steps Forward

In other words, I feel like I made some steps in the right direction. A friend gave me a potty seat to help my daughter go on the potty. I bought some underwear for her that I scored for a really good deal during a sale at Babies R Us — AND I had a gift card. (#winning) I bought a step stool, which is needing more for washing hands in the sink than using the potty. I bought those fancy flushable wipes. We were ready. We were outfitted for potty training excellence.

Now, let me slow down for a second. While on the outside it might have looked like I was geared up and ready for potty training, on the inside I was still very hesitant. The reason is that my daughter has a condition that makes her prone to urinary tract infections, and so when we potty train, we have to pay close attention to thorough wiping and make sure that she doesn’t hold it for too long. And, on top of everything else, my mommy gut was just telling me that she wasn’t ready.

In my research, I had looked up some of the signs that your child is ready for potty training. Some of the signs that Zoe wasn’t showing were: not telling me when she had to go, not being able to take off or trying to take off her clothes on her own, and not waking up dry from a nap (not even close).

But despite my hesitation, we decided to let her dabble in potty training a bit. Not long after that, she got a UTI. Now, did that happen because of the potty training? Who knows? It could have just been her condition.

Baby Steps Back

However, this UTI did result in a trip to her urologist, and she will be having a corrective procedure later this fall. Because of this, I’ve decided that I won’t proceed with potty training until after the procedure is done. Also, after she had the UTI, almost all of the interest in potty training at home (which was very little to begin with) pretty much stopped.

I am not by any means going to discourage her from going on the potty. When she wants to try, I do put her on the potty. However, we are not going full force until after her procedure. She will also be closer to three years old by then, which is the recommended age for potty training anyway.

Five Simple Questions

In a recent blog from about when to give up pacifiers, I read something that struck me and really helped me to think through these things myself. A mom asks these questions any time she is going to make a major change or transition with her children:

Is my child sleeping well?
Am I sleeping well?
Is my child healthy?
Is my child generally happy?
Am I mentally prepared for this?

(Read the full article click here.)

This made me feel so much better. The one part that made me feel the best was, “Am I mentally prepared for this?” I know that I wasn’t mentally prepared to potty train my daughter. Now, are there things in that we all have to do in motherhood that we aren’t completely prepared for? Sure. That’s life. However, I had some control over this situation. I also had another mom recently tell me her potty training journey with her daughter. She said that they tried a few times: once, her daughter wasn’t ready; twice, she wasn’t ready—  and so they are still working on it.

I finally felt like I wasn’t alone in being not ready to go down this path just yet. I also realized that my mommy gut is usually right and I should probably listen better. Aside from the mommy gut and being mentally prepared, we all need to be sleeping well and taking care of our health. If we are sick or not sleeping, no good will come of this.

My daughter and I are very alike in personality. The times we struggle with each other are when we are both hungry and when we are both tired. If we are well rested and fed, changes are going to happen much more smoothly.

All in all, this mom with a not-so-potty trained toddler has learned that in moving forward with potty training or any big change, I will listen to my child, trust my gut and take it easy.



  1. Thank you for writing this article. The pressure to potty train is sometimes unnecessarily intense and overwhelming, with little room for error or regression. I have a son who is “taking a lot longer than he’s supposed to,” and while everyone comments on his age as a sure-fire marker that he’s “definitely ready,” he doesn’t show all the signs still, especially the ones you mentioned. Can he go to the potty, and does he show interest at all? Yes, definitely. Is he almost ready for no more diapers at all? No way. While it’s always a process we work on, I wanted to say I appreciated your article and the advice in it. Those five questions are spot-on.


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