Potty training is an essential step that teaches children to move on from diapers and to eventually use a toilet.
Getting the hang of potty training often takes a lot of patience. Lots of parents find that it's best to take it slow and follow your child’s lead. Gentle encouragement is key.
Every child is different and it's important that parents don’t compare their child’s progress with that of other little ones.
When to start potty training?
There's no specific age you need to begin, but a lot of parents consider starting training when their child is around two years old. It's a good idea to begin potty training when there're no big changes to your family's routine, so that your child doesn’t get confused. Some parents also find that it's easier to begin potty training in the warm summer months when your little one will be wearing fewer layers of clothing.
Put simply, you can start whenever your child is ready. Signs that they're ready to begin potty training include that they…
- Can tell that they've got a wet or dirty diaper
- Know when they're peeing or need to pee and can tell you
- Fidget or go somewhere quiet or hidden when they need to pee
- Can sit on the potty and get up from it when they’re done
- Are able to follow your instructions
- Can dress themselves.
Getting ready to potty train
To prepare your child for potty training, it's a good idea to introduce them to the idea gradually.
You can also…
- Talk to your little one about why they wear diapers as you change them to help them to understand what wee and poo are.
- Introduce them to washing their hands and let them help you to flush the toilet. New sounds and sensations can be scary at first, so it will help to have you there with them.
- Leave their potty where they can see it and explain what it's for, to eventually replace their diaper.
- Let them sit on the potty just for a moment in between diaper changes to help them get used to it.
Once you're ready to get started, these potty training essentials can come in handy…
- One or more potties to keep around the house and take out with you. You can even let your little one get involved with potty shopping.
- Potty training pants and pull-ups.
- A toilet seat reducer and a foot stool.
- Kid-friendly hand soap.
- Books about potty training.
- A protective mattress cover.
- Extra bedding.
- A progress chart and some small rewards.
Top potty training tips
When they're potty training, your little one is learning a totally new skill. They'll get full control of their bladder and bowel once they're physically ready. Making the process stressful or pressurised wont help.
Setbacks and accidents go hand-in-hand with potty training. So, it’s best to shrug them off, and explain to your child that accidents are a natural part of learning and growing up. It can also help to be prepared with a spare change of clothes and a pack of wipes whenever you head out, just in case.
- Make it fun and offer rewards
The best approach is to praise your little one for trying or doing well when using their potty. Offer lots of encouragement. A sticker or reward chart can also help to track and celebrate their progress.
Observe when your little one goes to the toilet in their diaper and try to build these habits into their potty training routine. If you think they need to go, take their diaper off, and remind them where their potty is and what it's for.
- Choose clothes that are easy to change
Two-piece sets are the best option rather than jumpsuits or dungarees. That way, you can just swap out the bottoms with another pair. Choose pants or bottoms that pull down easily, don’t have fiddly buttons or zips, and are easy to wash.
If your little one is spending the day with a relative or goes to nursery or a childminder, be sure to tell them that you’re starting potty training so that they can maintain your routine.
Night-time potty training
Most children manage day-time potty training before they learn to make it through the night with no accidents.
You may find that your little one needs to continue wearing diapers or pull-ups to bed for a little while longer.
If this is the case, it’s important to be patient and positive. Encourage them to use the potty just before bed to help reduce accidents.
It can also help to make their bed up with a protective mattress cover, and never make them feel ashamed about wetting the bed.
Potty training FAQs
What’s the best potty training age?
There's no set age to start potty training, but most people start to think about it when their child is between two and two-and-a-half years old.
How do I move my child from the potty to a proper toilet?
Some little ones begin using the toilet rather than a potty sooner than others. It really depends on each unique situation. Trainer seats that clip onto the toilet can help them feel confident on the toilet, and a step for your child to rest their feet on can help, too.
Should I force my child to potty train?
No, forcing a child to use their potty can cause upset and make your little one associate going to the toilet with negativity.
Even though accidents are frustrating for parents, it’s best to remain patient and let your child lead the potty-training process. They will be ready in their own time.
Try not to set deadlines and always consider their unique temperament and developmental schedule.