Your toddler girl probably likes the same cartoons and throws the same tantrums as boys her age, but she might be ready to potty train before they are. Average ages give you an idea of what's typical, but every child's potty-training journey is unique. Plan on starting to ease her out of diapers after she turns 2 years old, and trust that she'll show you when the time is right.
Girls Vs. Boys
Children of either gender aren't usually ready to begin potty training earlier than approximately 18 months of age, and most children aren't physically or emotionally prepared to start until many months beyond that. On average, a girl is ready to be potty trained at approximately 29 months of age, says the University of Michigan Health System, compared to 31 months for the average boy. The reason why girls are typically ready sooner is unclear, although HealthyChildren.org suggests the tendency for boys to be more physically active than girls may play a role.
Signs She's Ready
Your little girl's birth date doesn't determine when she's ready to ditch diapers. Watch her for signs she's interested in and able to begin potty training. Readiness has a physical component. A girl should be able to sit down on and get up from a potty seat and able to pull her pants down and up on her own. She should stay dry for periods of at least two hours. When your daughter has mastered all these skills and shows interest in wearing underwear and using the toilet like a "big kid" -- she may pretend to use the toilet or try an older child's potty seat -- it's time to start potty training.
How to Potty Train
Your child won't master using the toilet unless she's willing to, so let her have some control over this learning process. Buy her underwear and a practice toilet and tell her excitedly she can start using the potty like her older friends or siblings. Ask her to pay attention to how her body feels when she needs to use the bathroom, and explain that she should go sit on the potty when she has that feeling. Once every hour or two and 15 minutes after she eats or drinks, remind her to go to the potty. Girls also need to be taught how to wipe properly. Show her how to gather a handful of toilet paper and wipe from the front to back. Going in the opposite direction spreads bacteria.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Your daughter might be the kind of child who moves from diapers to underwear in one week and never has accidents, but she'll more likely have days when she refuses to use the toilet or soils multiple pairs of pants before lunch. Grit your teeth or complain about the process to a friend or partner, but never to your child. Offer praise when she uses the toilet and hold back criticism when she fails. Don't think of the process like a speeding train -- you can get off whenever you need to. MayoClinic.org suggests taking a break of a few months if your child doesn't seem to get the hang of potty training within a few weeks. If she still isn't making progress by her third birthday, ask her pediatrician for input.