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Potty Genius Blog

The American Academy of Pediatrics “Guide to Toilet Training”


If you are looking for an overview of toilet training written by experts, the “Guide to Toilet Training” by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) may be the best book to read. Pediatricians are doctors specially trained to take care of children and adolescents. You probably take your child to a pediatrician. The book contains wonderful stories about real families and actual questions pediatricians have been asked. Although it was written in 2003, a 2016 update makes it more relevant for parents today. Some of the information in the book can be found at the AAP’s website, called healthychildren.org. The book contains a lot of guidance, but no one set plan for potty training. It will help you develop your own plan.
the american academy of pediatrics "guide to toilet training"

by Anna Kaplan, MD

Dr. Anna Kaplan is a writer and a licensed physician. She completed a 3-year residency and board certification in Family Practice and was in active practice for 15 years. A parent herself, Anna still remembers the "I know how to use the potty" song that her children sang.


Potty Genius Blog

The American Academy of Pediatrics “Guide to Toilet Training”


If you are looking for an overview of toilet training written by experts, the “Guide to Toilet Training” by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) may be the best book to read. Pediatricians are doctors specially trained to take care of children and adolescents. You probably take your child to a pediatrician. The book contains wonderful stories about real families and actual questions pediatricians have been asked. Although it was written in 2003, a 2016 update makes it more relevant for parents today. Some of the information in the book can be found at the AAP’s website, called healthychildren.org. The book contains a lot of guidance, but no one set plan for potty training. It will help you develop your own plan.

by Anna Kaplan, MD

Dr. Anna Kaplan is a writer and a licensed physician. She completed a 3-year residency and board certification in Family Practice and was in active practice for 15 years. A parent herself, Anna still remembers the "I know how to use the potty" song that her children sang.


the american academy of pediatrics "guide to toilet training"
If you are looking for an overview of toilet training written by experts, the “Guide to Toilet Training” by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) may be the best book to read. Pediatricians are doctors specially trained to take care of children and adolescents. You probably take your child to a pediatrician. The guide touches on most aspects of toilet training that parents should know. The first four chapters and the last, chapter nine, are the most generally useful. The rest of the book deals with special needs and specific problems. You may or may not need this information. The book contains wonderful stories about real families and actual questions pediatricians have been asked. Although it was written in 2003, a 2016 update makes it more relevant for parents today. Some of the information in the book can be found at the AAP’s website, called healthychildren.org. The book contains a lot of guidance, but no one set plan for potty training. It will help you develop your own plan.

Chapter One, “Toilet Training: A Natural Part of Growing Up”

Learning how to use the toilet is a natural part of growing up in today’s world. Teaching this to a child should not be an experience dreaded by parents. Subheadings of this chapter include, among others:
  • When to Toilet-Train: Is There a “Right” Age?
  • How to Toilet-Train: What’s Best for Your Child
After reading the first chapter, you should better understand that every child is different as every family is different. There is no one way to toilet train or one time to start. Most children will learn eventually. Hopefully, you will be able to approach potty training with a sense of confidence. At a minimum, you should feel less anxious.

Chapter 2, “How to Tell When Your Child is Ready”

This chapter will help you decide when it is time to start training and when it is reasonable to wait. Some of the subheadings are:
  • “Gotta Go!”: Physiologic Readiness and Motor Skills
  • “I Can Do It!”: Emotional Growth and Social Awareness
There is detail provided about each of these areas. In general, your child’s body has to have developed enough so that she can physically control when she urinates or has a bowel movement. She must learn be aware that she needs to use the potty. This usually starts to happen between 18 and 24 months of age. Your child also has to be able to walk, manage at least simple clothing, and be able to sit still long enough to deposit something into the potty. Your child’s language and thinking must be at the point that she can understand explanations, follow instructions, remember all the steps she has to take, see that poop and pee belong in the potty, and know you want her to use it. She must have a reason for wanting to use the potty, which could be to please you, to be independent, to do what other children are doing, and/or to want rewards like gold stickers and praise for trying and eventually achieving potty training. Once you think your child is ready, you can start training.

Chapter Three, “Encouraging Your Child’s Progress”

This chapter reviews many different methods to help your child learn to use the potty. Some subheadings are:
  • What’s a Potty For? The Power of Association
  • Identifying Times to Go
Chapter three includes strategies for figuring out what is going to work best for your child. You will learn to use your child’s personality traits and stage of development to decide how to teach her. By the end of this chapter, you should be able to make, and then implement, a plan.

Beyond the First Chapters

Chapter four, “Accidents, Resistance and Other Toilet-Training Challenges,” explains how to deal with the inevitable accident or setback. Most parents will need this information. The following chapters deal with specific difficulties, including training older children and children with special needs, and dealing with persistent bedwetting, among other topics. Chapter nine, “The Self Sufficient Child,” reminds you what you and your child have learned and achieved during toilet training. It serves as both a conclusion and a celebration of sorts. Not all of the information in the book is on the AAP website. If you want the book, it can be purchased here, although you can find a better price elsewhere.

Additional Potty Training Resources:

Toilet Training Methods, Clinical Interventions, and Recommendations

Toilet Training Guidelines for Parents

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