My daughters each became diaper-free at different ages. Anna was 26 months, Holly was 18 months and Jazzy was 22 months.
But what precipitated each daughter's learning to use the toilet for eliminating was that she was dry through the night. Anna and Holly were each dry at around 16 months of age, and Jasmine was dry at night from 12 months old. (Jasmine REFUSED to sleep wearing anything--even a diaper--and somehow she hardly ever wet the bed. I can almost say that I don't understand it.)
It has become 'normal' in modern Western culture for children to continue to need a diaper at night at 4 years, 5 years, 6 years and even older. Products are marketed that make it seem normal and some kids shows even talk about how wetting the bed is nothing for a school-age child to be embarrassed about.
Sometimes a medical condition exists that impedes a child from control his or her bladder, even when he or she is easily mature enough to understand and want to be free of diapers. But sometimes there is not a physical abnormality and the child still can't stop passing urine before getting to a toilet.
Now I'm not saying that there is something wrong with children who aren't toilet-users by the age of 3, but maybe there is something wrong with them. Maybe parents have routinely been denied access to the information that would help their children gain bladder control more easily and at a younger age.
Let me say that I am NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. I can only go on my experience with my own children and on anecdotal evidence from people who I know quite well. And from what I've learned, there is likely a simple, diagnosable reason why many children are still in a diaper beyond 30 months old.
Without much effort at all, I found multiple medical websites that suggest that food sensitivities can hinder a child's ability to sense a full bladder and hold it. Most notably, the websites suggest both dairy and gluten as the most likely culprits. (I'm not going to bother including all the links: you can find them by Googling dairy and bedwetting).
Now I KNOW you can't believe everything you read on the Internet. And I KNOW that every child is different. And I KNOW that cow's milk is highly recommended as an important food in the diet of children older than 12 months. And I KNOW that Elimination Communication can play a role in early toilet use. And I KNOW that there are probably lots of children out there who eat 6 servings of dairy products per day and who were diaper-free at a very early age.
But I also know that my daughter Jasmine was dry throughout the night at 12 months old and that neither she nor I were consuming dairy products after her birth. And my daughters Anna and Holly ate VERY LIMITED dairy products and they were diaper-free, day and night, at 26 months and 18 months respectively.
Obviously, every parent has to make the choices that are best for their own children. But if your child seems to want to be diaper-free but is unable to control his or her bladder, will you consider that food sensitivities to dairy or wheat could be causing the problem? Go to a naturopath and ask for help to eliminate dairy and wheat from your child's diet (and your own if you are still breastfeeding). This does not have be a long-term diet change. But just imagine if you could help your child become diaper-free just by making a simple, temporary adjustment.
It's just an idea.
And if you vehemently disagree, please don't flood my comment box with negative rebuttals.