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How to Potty Train a One Year Old Boy Who Can't Talk

by Lynn Anders, studioD

You may be surprised to learn that your own grandparents or great-grandparents potty trained their boys well before the age of 1. Before disposable diapers were invented, parents and doctors did not worry about any certain set of readiness signs, such as a child being able to talk or walk. Instead they worried how much work and how messy diapers were, and chose to potty train as soon as they could. When potty training boys this young, there's not much difference than when potty training a girl. Sit him on a potty for both pee and poop, just like you would a girl. Don't worry about teaching him to stand and urinate until he is reliably potty trained and is able to stand and walk with ease.

Sit your boy on the toilet at regular times during the day, such as when he wakes up, before and after eating or drinking, before a diaper change, before you leave the house, and when you return home. At this age, removing the diaper is often enough to naturally stimulate your child to urinate and sometimes poop.

Show your boy the hand sign for potty as he is sitting on the toilet and say “potty.” The hand sign for potty at this age only needs to be the wave of a closed fist. Eventually he can learn to use the hand sign to tell you he needs to potty. With the hand sign, he will be able to communicate with you long before he can use his words.

Use toys, songs, and books to keep your son happy and enjoying sitting on the toilet. If he is relaxed, he will be more likely to use the potty consistently.

Have him sit on the potty for just five minutes. If he has not used it by then, take him off and try again later. Early potty training is about providing the opportunity to use the potty, not forcing the use of the potty.

Ignore any accidents other than to clean them up or to change a diaper. When potty training a 1-year-old, it is the parent's responsibility to make it to the toilet on time and not the child's. Therefore, punishment or discipline should not be a part of potty training a 1-year-old.

Stop using diapers when you are comfortable in your own ability to get your 1-year-old to the potty reliably most of the time. This may be on day 1 or day 100 of potty training, as every child learns at his own pace.

Items you will need
  •  Toys
  •  Books
  •  Potty seat or chair


  • It's your choice whether you use a potty chair that sits on the floor or a potty seat that sits on the toilet. For a boy, however, do choose one that has a splash guard at the front. At this young age, boys can't aim into the toilet all that well.


  • "Early-Start Potty Training"; Linda Sonna, Ph.D.; 2005
  • "Diaper Free Before 3"; Jill M. Lekovic M.D.; 2006

About the Author

Lynn Anders has more than 15 years of professional experience working as a zookeeper, wildlife/environmental/conservation educator and in nonprofit pet rescue. Writing since 2007, her work has appeared on various websites, covering pet-related, environmental, financial and parenting topics. Anders has a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and biology from California State University, Sacramento.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images