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How to Potty Train Your Toddler

Potty training is a big deal in the parenting journey and parents can sometimes feel under pressure to succeed. It’s a big step for your toddler too, they may see friends or siblings using the loo and want to start doing this too.

You may even want to start talking to your child about when you feel the need to use the bathroom and explain the benefits of checking for a pee. Most children learn by watching others and toilet training is no different.

Potty training helps your child to start understanding a little bit about their body and the signals their body gives them. Your child will soon start learning when they are about to have a bowel movement or if they need to pee.

Age and gender do come into this too, girls generally tend to crack potty training before boys. By age 4, the majority of children should be dry most of the time during the day – but accidents may happen at night, especially on your child’s mattress.

The right time to potty train

Most parents and carers start thinking about potty training at around 18 months to 2 and half years old. There is no perfect time – some toddlers start older. Many parents take the weather into consideration. Warm weather can make potty training much easier as little ones can wear lighter clothing which makes getting to the potty much easier.

All children develop differently. It’s best to take it slowly and at your child’s pace. You will need lots of patience and time to devote so don’t start this journey if you are preoccupied with another project. Your health visitor can give you some advice for potty training success. Before you start potty training you may want to get hold of some children’s storybooks about toilet training. You can also buy some big kid underwear or training pants to act as an inventive. Let your child sit on a potty seat or potty chair to just get used to it.

Building confidence in your child.

Toilet training can also help build independence and confidence in your toddler and save you money buying diapers too. It’s really important to find the right time for you and your child to make your potty training fun, so we’ve compiled some potty training tips for successful training.

Finding the right time for potty training.

According to the NHS, most children learn to control their bladder and bowels when they are ready. Most toddlers manage to control their bowels first before their bladder. You will need to spot the signs for when your child is ready for potty training.

It’s really important not to compare your child’s potty training to others as this will only make you feel frustrated and your child may pick up on this. There are bound to be a few accidents before your child is potty trained.

You’ll need lots of positive reinforcement and a calm manner when you start potty training. Try potty training when there are no great disruptions or changes to your child’s routine.

Consistency is key.

Most children prefer consistency, so do not confuse your child with different rules or requirements. Keep family members up to date with your child’s progress so they know what to do and help your child with using the potty. This can be difficult for working parents who use child care during the day, and there could be different rules for your child.

Leave a potty where your child can see it and explain what it’s for. Children learn by watching and copying. If you’ve got an older child, your younger child may see them using it, which will be a great help to help your little one sit on the potty.

It’s important to remember not to push your child before he’s ready and to be patient. All kids are different as to when you should start potty training. Your child is not necessarily developmentally lagging if it’s well past his third birthday before he gets the hang of potty training.

Getting reading for potty training.

Timing is very important when potty training. Choose a time when you can start your potty training routine without any interruptions. When you begin, make sure your toddler is involved in the process by taking them to pick their potty and/or toilet training seat.

Take them along to choose their big boy or big girl pants too, or pull-ups, as this will help them feel part of the journey and make it fun! You could also talk about incentives too such as a sticker chart.

Talk to your child about wearing underwear and the fun involved in potty time. Keep your child hydrated and let them drink plenty, especially in warm weather. If you keep a chart of your child’s toilet trips this can help you spot any patterns and also ensure your child doesn’t have a water infection if they pee too frequently or have constipation.

Using the potty.

Potty training can be a big deal for you and your little one. If you have older siblings they can help teach your children how to use the toilet. Perhaps they can encourage regular toilet use with fancy soap dispensers or a special flannel in the bathroom. Your family members can give lots of encouragement to use the potty. Your toddler may want to copy siblings or older cousins and use the bathroom in the same way.

You may decide to buy a picture book about potty training that you can look through with your toddler. This shows your toddler the journey you are going on and your expectations. Keep lots of rags, clothes and wipes nearby for you and any accidents. You can keep these in the bathroom or near the potty in a basket. This will teach your child good hygiene and help to keep you organised and calm.

Dress for potty training.

Some parents choose to try potty training in the summer. This not only helps with wearing less clothing but also helps get through any extra washing you may find you need to do. Try to avoid fiddly clothes that your child needs to deal with – such as zips or buttons.

If the weather is warm enough let your little one wear loose clothing they can comfortably pull up or down. You may find this works well when they are developing their bowel movements.

Keep the potty in the same location, your child might prefer some privacy and have the potty in the bathroom, or in their bedroom so they can use it before nap time. You can certainly have more than one potty dotted around the house but keep them in the same place.

Be prepared.

It’s a good idea to always have a spare set of sheets or pyjamas to hand, in case you need them in the middle of the night. Being prepared can really help you keep calm and remain a happy mom. Most children become dry at night between the ages of 3 and 5 years old, some a little longer.

Keep calm and carry on.

Most kids will want to succeed with their potty training journey so keep calm (even when you’re tired and grouchy). Be careful of the way you are handling accidents or you may find your child may regress. You can give your toddler lots of encouragement by getting them to choose a potty for night time, and even some pull-ups or age-appropriate diapers.

Potty training accessories.

There are some fantastic accessories to help with potty training. From pull-ups, to toilet seats, stickers to go in the potty that change colour when you pee on them (yes, really). There are even ‘toys’ you can put in the toilet bowl that you pee on.

It is also important to let everyone around your tot know of your intentions. Tell your nursery, child carers, or anyone else who looks after your toddler that you have started toilet training. Let everyone know what techniques you are using to teach your child how to use the potty, for example, a reward chart or sticker system. Get everyone involved the same way.

Potty training on the go.

You can buy a disposable travel potty. It is worth using these at home first a few times to familiarise both of you with how they work. These can be really handy if your child is likely to pee frequently.

Give your child lots of opportunities to check for a pee when you are out and about – at public toilets or visiting a relative. You can try keeping a toilet step or toilet seat at granny’s to help your child learn to be a big kid.

You can also talk to your child about when you feel you need to check for the toilet, and also show them the importance of hygiene and washing hands.

Approaches and techniques

As your child develops good bladder control, try to keep giving lots of praise and encouragement. Potty training is hard but it may only be for a few weeks time. Give lots of encouragement when your son or daughter is using the potty. 

It’s vital you don’t lose hope during potty training. You can give praise for small steps – such as when the child learns to sit on the toilet seat.

Night time waking.

If your child wakes up in the night for the toile.?t, give them lots of praise. You may want to pop a waterproof sheet on your child’s mattress to avoid any big accidents or stains.

Don’t shout or raise your voice. Your child needs to feel confident at telling you or asking for the toilet. If your child is not physically ready then leave it and try again another time.

Don’t compare your child to others. Many parents put pressure on themselves, to keep up with their friends. Every child develops differently and may have a different bladder control from their peers.

Regular checks during the day.

Some little ones might like to try and pee after digesting food. Try to encourage regular use of the potty and even keep a note of the times this happens. You may see a pattern developing.

Night-time potty training.

Day-time potty training is likely to come first. Night-time potty training may take a little longer. We recommend one way to stay a happy mom is to keep consistent with your toilet training rules in the night too.

Encourage your child to be a grown-up and let your child have a pee before bed. Consider using a waterproof sheet on the bed. If the sheets are slightly damp then keep praising and get your toddler to the toilet bowl as soon as you can.

Potty training with a disabled child

Some children with a long-term illness or disability find it more difficult to learn to use a potty or toilet. This can be challenging for them and for you, so it’s just as important to be ready for potty training when it is right for you both. You may need visual aids for your child and more patience.

Talk to a health adviser.

They may be able to help suggest some assistive devices to help, different learning aids to help your child. Toilet training is an important milestone in all children’s development and can greatly improve their confidence and independence – both at home and when they are ready to start day care or nursery.


Even when your child has been successfully potty trained and dry for many weeks, they can still regress. Don’t lose hope though. Your toddler may not be developmentally ready and you can simply try again.

There may well be the occasional accident and you might notice this after changes or a difficult time. Encourage your child to sit on the potty and to get used to the flushing sound of the toilet. Keep working on those incentives and encouragement. Downplay accidents and really praise the successes. Maybe try some different training pants for your child.

It may simply not be the right time for you or your child. Some children are keener than others but if you are getting cross and frustrated as you potty train your toddler it may not be the best time. Don’t get caught up with how well other parents are doing with their potty training. Al children are different and your child may simply not be developmentally ready.

Kate the toddler review

The author: Jose Martinez

Hi there! My name is Jose, and I’m a proud dad to a beautiful 4 year old. As a parent, I know firsthand how overwhelming it can be to navigate the world of parenting and child-rearing. There are so many choices to make, from the foods we feed our little ones to the toys we buy them to the clothes they wear. But one thing that’s always been important to me is finding the best products available for my child.

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