Sharing in your child’s milestones as they grow from baby to semi-adult is an adventure peppered with tears and celebrations. Besides first steps, one of the biggest triumphs is when your kid takes a dump in the potty.

It’s pure joy. You cheer, you clap, and you call someone – anyone – so they can share in the moment too. And that’s just for the first time and the first kid. Once you get past reading their poo-poo hints, making mad dashes to the potty, carpet scrubbing fun, bribes, the drops in secret locations, and nighttime experiments, it becomes official.

But the question is: how do you even start? It’s all about knowing the right time and then staying on top of it. While each child is different, many start learning how to use the toilet between 18 and 24 months. And according to pediatricians, girls pick it up sooner than boys.

One of the things to look out for with your little one is if they notice they did something in their diaper. Some kids will express their contempt for being wet or dirty. Others will be able to show you that they understand what they’ve done.

Take that as a cue to start sitting them on the pot. If you have a child who’s able to communicate with words like “I go pee!”, or by pointing to the potty, count yourself as lucky! Rush him to a kiddie toilet pronto and congratulate him on a job well done.

Now, those of us who have already been down this road know that another sign is the infamous Hide-and-Go-Poop game. When your child disappears and the next time you see her there’s either an awful smell in the air or a puddle on the floor, it’s time.

There are other signals like removing their diaper or pants, wanting to watch you go, or standing up and going #1 or #2 anywhere while undressed. Anywhere means the bathtub, next to the potty, in the kitty litter box, or your rug. Hint hint. IT. IS. TIME.

Gentler hints that she’s ready are that fact that she’s staying dry for longer periods of time. If it seems like your tot is on a fairly regular schedule for bowel movements, then time your trips to the bathroom to correspond.

Families with more than one child can attest that each one learns how to potty in their own time, in their own way. It can be a breeze with some and frustrating with others. But once you get ready to begin, there are plenty of methods you can try for potty training. Just keep in mind not every kid will be a 3-day study or a 1-week whiz. Give it time.

Stay with him, talk him through it, and be calm even when the messes happen. Don’t forget to reward, praise, and celebrate. And look forward to the upcoming money perks from not having to buy diapers and wipes anymore.

What age did you start potty training your child? Do you have any horror stories to share? What’s your best advice for knowing when and how to train?