My husband and I started to potty train our toddler one week before she turned 23 months. She was exhibiting many potty training readiness signs and we wanted to act quickly on those signs. This article is about the pros and cons of potty training under two years old.
This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Growing up in the United States, we grow up believing that it is normal to start potty training around two, three, or even four years old.
In other parts of the world, especially third world countries, potty training starts much earlier than 2 years old. (Source) Some cultures even start toilet training from birth.
In the United States, parents may get a lot of criticism and disapproval for even trying to potty train before two. A lot of people will say that your child is not ready. Although, you might get criticism for potty training too late as well. Parents can’t win, right?
So, this is what convinced me to potty train before two years old or basically 5 weeks before my daughter turned two.
- She was exhibiting many potty training readiness signs
- The author of Oh Crap! Potty Training said the golden window of opportunity to train was between 20-30 months.
- Children all around the world are capable of potty training under 2 years old.
Related reading: 8 ideal signs of potty training readiness for toddlers
Pros of potty training under two
There are definite pros to potty training under two. You’ll save money, your child might not have behavioral problems yet, and poop training can be easier.
1. No more diapers
This is a big one. Diapers in the United States are getting super expensive. Even as two full-time working parents making a decent income, we balked at the price of Pampers.
The thought of buying diapers for another year was a big reason to start potty training under two. We also used the Diaper Genie and its refills, which were pretty pricey as well.
I’m not the most environmentally friendly person but the thought of filling up landfills with another year’s worth of diapers didn’t feel great either.
2. Less behavioral problems to deal with
Toddler temper tantrums usually start around two and phase out around three. This is a normal stage of childhood development.
When you couple temper tantrums with potty training, you may end up with a full-blown disaster on your hands.
My daughter was close to two years old when we started potty training and she had already started the temper tantrum phase. She’s also very strong-willed and independent, so we ended up having some power struggles along the way.
3. Less poop shame might mean easier poop training
We have all heard of the toddler who hides behind the couch to poop, right? At some point, toddlers attach shame to the act of pooping and thus require privacy in the act.
For potty training under two, this may not be as much of an issue. When we started potty training my daughter, she was not ashamed or embarrassed about pooping yet. She would tell us she pooped but didn’t seem embarrassed about doing it in front of us.
This made it really easy to poop train. In fact, for us, it was easier than pee training because her poop signals were very clear and we were always able to get her to the potty. She also had no qualms about pooping on the potty while I sat right next to her.
4. Fewer milestones to contend with
It’s always good to potty train when there’s not a whole lot going on in your toddler’s life developmentally, emotionally, and socially. We made sure not to introduce any major change around this time. You’ll want all of your toddler’s time and energy going into learning how to use the toilet.
This depends on every family but there seems to be a lot of developmental milestones happening at age 2. Things like moving out of the crib, molars, changing rooms at daycare, a new sibling, and temper tantrums, to name a few.
My daughter’s daycare decided to transition her out of the crib and onto a mat for naptime about a week and a half into potty training and that really threw a wrench in potty training. My toddler was very upset and she ended up having a lot of accidents for a couple of days after this.
So, potty training under two might interfere less with other developmental milestones, or it may not. For us, the daycare transitioning her to a mat was out of our control.
Related reading: A helpful list of toddler transitions for two year olds
Cons of potty training under two
In America, we want immediate results. When you Google “potty training,” you will find a barrage of 2-day and 3-day miracle potty training methods. Although these may work for three and four-year-olds, they might not work with toddlers under two.
1. Potty training may take longer
Although it is possible to fully potty train your young toddler in a few days, it might also take a lot more time for a toddler under two. They may not have the physical development or emotional readiness that older toddlers might have. That was definitely the case for us.
I’ll admit, I did read some 3-day potty training articles. Yes, it would’ve been nice if it happened in 3 days but that was not our reality. My toddler was more or less clueless in the first 3 days. It took a full week for potty training to click for her.
Even after it clicked, she wasn’t just getting up and using the potty on her own. There is definitely a training period. We hit a lot of regression and ended up changing methods after three weeks because my toddler was getting very frustrated.
2. Less verbal communication
We definitely encountered this con in potty training our 22-month-old daughter. I eventually figured out her rhythm in potty training but there were many communication frustrations along the way.
One of our problems was over prompting. She was too young to say “I don’t need to pee”. Instead, she would start to get angry and frustrated when I didn’t understand her displeasure.
We had to rely on more physical cues. If she didn’t need to pee, she would take my hand and lead me out of the bathroom. At first, I was the one that resisted these cues, then it got easier once I followed her lead.
3. Ability to manipulate clothing
When we started potty training under two, it became clear that we should’ve spent more time learning how to put on and take off clothes.
My daughter had trouble pulling her pants up and down to use the potty. In the first couple of weeks, it was easier for her to be naked because she didn’t have the best ability to manipulate her clothes.
Once she was able to pull up and down loose jogger pants to use the potty chair, we then had trouble with her ability to pull down training underwear. There were a lot of extra skills that she needed to learn.
4. Physical coordination
My daughter can walk, run, and climb pretty well but potty training requires more fine-tuned gross motor skills and coordination.
When my daughter would sit down on the potty, she half-missed a bunch of times because she didn’t realize that she needed to align her body with the chair to sit on it properly.
Although it was adorable to see her shuffling ever so slightly from side to side to get right in front of the potty to sit down, I realized an older toddler might not even have to think about such things.
We faced the same issue with the step stool and getting on the big toilet with an insert. We started this about two weeks into potty training and she fell off the step stool a couple of times trying to get down. I can definitely see an older toddler having an easier time with these tasks.
Final thoughts on potty training under two
Potty training can be tricky at any age and it takes a lot of parenting. Going through this long process helped me build patience and resilience in stressful situations. It’s not easy.
For anyone considering potty training a toddler under two, it may take additional time. Also, you may have to assist your child in the process longer than an older toddler.
When we started, I didn’t realize how much time I would really be spending on potty training. In the beginning, it rules your life.
So, if you have the extra time to potty train and your toddler under two is exhibiting signs of readiness, I would say go for it!