What Age Should a Child Be Able to Wipe Themselves?

toddler using the potty

Wiping. It’s not something we talk about, but it is an important skill to learn.

Children need to know how to wipe their own behinds so they can develop hygienic practices, self-esteem, and independence.

The sooner a child can do a good job at this, the better.

*FYI, some of the links in this article about at what age should a child be able to wipe themselves may be affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, we may get a commission (at no extra cost to you). For more info, please see our disclaimer.

When Should Children Wipe Themselves?

A child should be able to wipe their bottoms by the time they are 3 or 4 years old. At this point, they should know how to properly wipe, how to completely wipe, and what to do after they are finished. Parents can continue to monitor wiping for a while, but kids should be mostly independent.

When to Start Teaching Wiping

I don’t know about you, but I never enjoyed changing diapers. I didn’t like dealing with any of the body fluids, and I certainly didn’t like wiping.

When it was time to start potty training, wiping was part of the lesson. My children learned that wiping accompanied using the potty from day one.

Teaching kids how to wipe isn’t as natural as it seems. You will probably try different ways to show them how to wipe until they finally get it.

And yes, you will be batting cleanup for the first year or so.

How to Know They are Wiping Well

The proof is in the underpants. Skid marks happen when kids don’t wipe well.

If you’re seeing this in your child’s pull-ups, training pants or underpants, you can assume they aren’t doing a great job.

Have another lesson each time you see a stain.

Some parents opt for flushable wipes when children are learning. This helps them to get fully clean when they are still young.

Flushable Wipes

However, you should teach them not to flush flushable wipes.

Even those that say they are flushable can wreak havoc on plumbing. This might cause some confusion later on, so weigh the pros and cons carefully.

What if They Don’t Learn to Wipe?

Some kids don’t have the motor skills to wipe properly. You need to be patient and give your child’s body time to catch up.

Kids should certainly be able to wipe themselves before they enter kindergarten. If they still can’t perform this action, it may be time to seek intervention.

Your pediatrician is the best resource to ensure your child’s motor skills are developmentally on track.

PRO TIP
A big reason some children don’t learn how to wipe is due to parental intervention.

You might think you are doing your child a favor by wiping for them when in reality, you’re impeding their ability to learn.

Be as patient with wiping as you are with potty training, and your child will learn how to wipe well.

Key Takeaways

Children should be wiping on their own with few problems by the time they are three or four years old.

Do you have any tips for teaching children how to wipe? We’d love to see them in the comments!

Related Articles