Toilet Training

Toilet Training is a big step for a toddler. All children react differently to this new step. Some may find it very difficult while some children seem to train themselves. Be prepared for accidents as they will happen more often than not!

Signs Your Child Is Ready for Toilet Training

Don't try and set a date by which you would like your child to be toilet trained (eg: before the new baby arrives). Be prepared to wait until your child is ready. Most toilet training problems will be avoided if you do not start too early.

Most children are not ready to control their bowels and bladder until the age of 2 and some not until the age of 3. Generally Girls are ready before boys.

Signs To Look For

  • One of the first signs of being ready for Toilet Training is letting you know they have just done a poo or wee.
  • Taking an interest in others using the toilet.
  • Telling you that their nappy is wet.
  • Telling you that they do not want to wear nappies anymore.
  • Able to pull their pants up and down.
  • Understand simple instructions.

Getting Ready To Toilet Train

  • Teach your child words you need for toilet training, such as wet, dry, wee, poo, it’s coming. Choose words that you are comfortable in using.
  • Choose a potty or special seat. Potty’s are mobile and can be moved around the house. If you choose a special toilet training seat, you will probably need a step or footstool so your child can get up on the toilet by themself.
  • Make sure your toilet area is safe. Keep household cleaners, deodorants and toiletries out of reach.
  • Allow them to watch yourself/siblings/carers use the toilet and talk about what they are doing.
  • Make sure your child is wearing clothing that is easy to get off.
  • If you notice your child uses their bowels at certain times of the day, try putting them on the potty/toilet at that time.

The Toilet Training

The first thing to remember is toilet training is not a race. It may take days or months. Every child is different.

  • Choose a day that you have no plans to leave the house. (it is best not to start toilet training when your child is adjusting to other changes, eg. a new baby, moving house or starting pre-school).
  • Make it fun. Get their favourite teddy or doll to sit on the potty/toilet.
  • Stop using Nappies (except at night or day sleeps)
  • Watch for signs that they are about to do a wee or poo (such as expressions on his face or stopping very still for a moment) and guide them to the potty/toilet. Say things like: ‘Is there a wee wee coming or poo poo coming’.
  • Praise is very important. Do a song and dance, jump up and down in joy when they do their first poo or wee in the toilet. You may feel silly but they will love it and try to get you to do it again.
  • If they do not make it to the toilet still praise for trying. ‘Good boy/girl you pulled your pants down’ or ‘that’s great you nearly made it to the potty/toilet.
  • At different stages through the day ask your child if he needs to do a wee or a poo. Give them gentle reminders.
  • It is best not to make your child sit on the toilet for longer than 5 minutes, as it may feel like punishment.
  • You will need to wipe your child’s bottom at first, until he knows how. Remember to always wipe from front to back.
  • Teach your child to wash their hands after using the toilet.


Your child is learning a difficult physical ability. Expect accidents and set backs, these are all part of the process. Try not to get angry if accidents happen. If your child feels pressured, learning is often slowed. They may become afraid of making a mess, and it will be harder for them to get it right. Toilet training works best when there is no pressure for either the parents or the child. 

Avoiding Accidents

  • Pay attention to your child if he says he needs the toilet now. He probably does need it now. Just remember when they start to use the potty/toilet their bowel/bladder control is not very strong.
  • Check if your child needs to go to the toilet during long periods of playtime or before outing.
  • Ask your child to go to the toilet before bed.

Just remember Toilet Training may take days or it may take months. Be patient and give lots of praise.

Referneces: Parenting & Child Health, Raising Children

Related Articles: Bathing Baby, Introducing Baby to Solids and Setting up the Baby Nursery

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