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The Changing Times: How Potty Training Ages Have Shifted

Toilet training is a significant developmental milestone that can be both a challenging and a rewarding experience for children and parents alike. While this process is a universal rite of passage, the timelines for potty training have shifted over the years.

According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, the average age of potty training in the United States now stands at 33 months. This is a substantial increase compared to the 1970s, when the average age was 24 months.

What’s particularly noteworthy is the change in diapering practices during this time. In 1974, cloth diapers were far more prevalent than their disposable counterparts. The immediate sensation of wetness that cloth diapers provide can encourage children to potty train sooner, a factor that likely contributed to the earlier potty training age during this era.

However, the advent and increased usage of disposable diapers have influenced this shift. Disposable diapers are highly absorbent, often keeping babies feeling dry even when the diaper is full. As a result, children might not readily recognize the sensation of being wet, causing a delay when transitioning to using the toilet.

Moreover, the sudden change from the constant comfort of disposable diapers to the unfamiliar sensation of using a toilet can be a challenging transition for many children. This abrupt shift can lead to feelings of shame and doubt if the child struggles with accidents or setbacks during potty training, which could potentially delay the process even further.

Given these factors, it becomes even more crucial for parents to approach potty training with patience, understanding, and support. Recognizing that each child is unique and will be ready in their own time is key to a successful potty training journey.

Here are some practical tips to aid in the potty training journey:

  1. Initiate the Conversation: Discuss potty training with your child. Help them understand what it means and why it’s a necessary skill to learn.
  2. Look for Readiness Signs: Readiness signs include the ability to stay dry for two hours at a stretch, follow simple instructions, and a natural interest in using the toilet.
  3. Establish a Schedule: Taking your child to the toilet after regular intervals, like after meals or naps, can help them get accustomed to the process.
  4. Celebrate Success: Offer praise when they successfully use the toilet. Positive reinforcement encourages them to continue developing their independence.
  5. Keep Calm in Case of Accidents: Accidents are a normal part of the process. Maintain patience and encourage your child to try again next time.
  6. Avoid Comparisons: Every child learns at their own pace. Don’t stress if another child seems to be progressing faster.
  7. Don’t Force the Process: Forcing your child can make the experience more difficult and create negative associations with toilet training.
  8. Seek Medical Advice if Needed: If you face significant challenges during potty training, consider discussing it with a healthcare professional. There could be underlying medical conditions at play.

Remember, with patience, consistency, and the right approach, your child will learn this essential skill. Keep in mind the changing trends and societal shifts, but focus on what’s best for your child. After all, they are on their unique journey of growth and development.


  1. “Toilet Training in the 1990s” – Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 1999
  2. “Diaper Type and Diaper Change Frequency Impact Diaper Dermatitis” – Pediatric Dermatology, 2014
  3. “Diapering, Diaper Technology, and Diaper Area Skin Health” – Pediatric Dermatology, 2020
  4. “Toilet Training” – American Academy of Pediatrics, HealthyChildren.org


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