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Age to Potty Train

Q. My 2-year-old has been using the potty for about two months. Though he rarely has accidents at home, he slips up when he's out of the house. Did we rush his toilet training?

A. Probably. Though some children start earlier, most boys learn to use the toilet at 2 1/2 to 3 years old (girls tend to get it down about three months sooner). In fact, a recent study from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that children younger than 27 months took a year or more to be potty trained, while kids ages 27 to 36 months needed only five to ten months. That's because toddlers are mastering so many important new skills  -- like walking and talking  -- that adding yet another one too soon may be too much to handle. (They also don't have good bodily control at this age.)

But don't worry: Your child isn't doomed to go off to college in diapers! He may just need more time to practice. You might want to back off and try again later. He has his whole life to be potty trained  -- what's the rush?

As for why accidents happen on the road, remember that the outside world offers distractions that your child doesn't have to face at home. Chances are, if you regularly use the bathroom at the mall, or at a restaurant before your food comes, your child will learn to, too.

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