It’s time for your child to use the toilet, but you’re wondering how to toilet train your toddler.
The best time to begin toilet training is when your child is ready to learn.
Trying to toilet train too early, or getting impatient with the process, can cause your child to become stressed and may lead to them avoiding going to the toilet. The key is to stay positive and calm and wait for signs that your child is ready. Check out My Baby Nursery for all your baby product needs.
You don’t want them sitting in their mess, so it’s crucial they learn quickly. Here are some tips on what you can do.
What Is a Good Age to Toilet-Train?
All children are different and develop at their own pace. Generally, children aren’t ready to be toilet trained until they are between 18 months and three years old.
Even if your child is taking more time, don’t push them too much. Wait for them to learn at their own pace.
Signs Your Child Is Ready
Just like all developmental milestones, every child is different. So how do you know if your toddler is ready for toilet training? Watch for signs of readiness. You can probably start toilet training if your child:
- tells you when he is about to do (or has done) a poo or pee
- uncomfortable in a dirty nappy
- pulls at his nappy
- interested in the toilet habits of others
- able to follow instructions
- physically capable of using the toilet (can walk to the bathroom and climb onto the toilet or potty)
- takes some pride in accomplishment
- understands the words used in toilet training and can convey them to you
- can pull down and pull up his pants
- stays dry for a couple of hours at a time
- wants their nappy changed when it is wet or dirty
- has regular, well-formed bowel movements
- lets you know they have done a wee or poo or need to do one (either with words or facial expressions)
- can get to the potty on their own
- shows an interest in others using the toilet
Age-wise it is generally between 22 – 30 months, but some children won’t be ready until after their third birthday.
Equipment for Toilet Training
Potty or Toilet
Children can start toilet training using a potty or the toilet. Your child might like one better than the other. Or you can encourage your child to use both.
A potty is easy to move around, and some children find it less scary than a toilet. On the other hand, the bathroom is where everybody else does wees and poos.
When you’re ready to toilet train your child, think of whether you want them to use a potty or the toilet. Neither one is necessarily better; you should decide what works best for your family and child.
Some experts believe that people cannot properly empty their bladder or bowels until they have their feet pressing down on the floor. Bringing the ‘floor’ up to the child’s level could help them.
Using a potty may be easier for your child to go and sit on when they want to pee or poop: Sometimes, when they are in a hurry getting onto the toilet seat might take time.
Also, some children can, at first, be scared of the height of the toilet seat.
That said, you may want to use both, to begin with – potty and toilet – to see which your toddler is more comfortable with.
If your child is using the toilet, you’ll also need:
- a step or footstool – your child can use this for getting onto the toilet and resting their feet while sitting
- A smaller seat that fits securely inside the big toilet seat.
Training Pants and Pull-Ups
Your child is more likely to understand going to the toilet if they’re no longer wearing a nappy. So it might be time to get some training pants and pull-ups:
- Training pants are absorbent underwear for toilet training. They’re less porous than nappies but can hold in bigger messes like accidental poos. Once your child is wearing training pants, dress your child in clothes that are easy to take off quickly.
- Pull-ups might help your child get used to wearing underwear. They’re more absorbent than cloth training pants and can be handy if you’re going out.
You could let your child choose some underpants. This can be an exciting step.
Preparing Your Child for Toilet Training
Well, before you start toilet training, you can prepare your child for this big step. Here are some ideas:
- Start teaching your child some words for going to the toilet – for example, ‘wee’, ‘poo’ and ‘I need to go’.
- When you change your child’s nappy, put wet and dirty nappies in the potty – this can help your child understand what the potty is for.
- Let your child watch you or other trusted family members using the toilet, and talk about what you’re doing.
- Once or twice a day, start putting training pants on your child – this helps your child understand the feeling of wetness.
- Ensure your child is eating plenty of fibre and drinking lots of water, so your child doesn’t get constipated. Constipation can make toilet training harder.
How to Toilet Train Your Child
Prepare Your Child for Toilet Training.
Before you start toilet training your toddler, there are a few things you can start doing that will make the process a little easier.
- Help them recognise when they are doing a pee or poo and if you notice the signs, ask them, ‘are you doing a poo?’.
- Teach them the words they need to be toilet trained. Pick words you’re comfortable using – pee, poo, wee etc.
- Let them watch you or your partner use the toilet if you’re comfortable doing that.
Buy Everything You Need for Toilet Training
There are many toilet training products on the market, so you’ll have to decide how you’ll toilet train before you go out and buy the lot. The essentials are:
- potty or toilet insert
- step to help them climb on the toilet and wash hands at the sink
- something to clean up accidents
Pick a Good Time to Start
To give yourself the best chance at successfully and quickly toilet training your little one, it is essential to time it right. Here are some tips for choosing the best time to start toilet training.
When the weather is warm — letting them go nude can help them tune in to their bodily functions, there won’t be too many layers to remove in a hurry, and they won’t be cold and uncomfortable sitting on the toilet.
When there are no other upheavals in their life — if you don’t leave enough time between toilet training and a significant event (moving house, new baby, starting daycare etc.), you might find your child will regress.
When you have time, pick a time when you can watch your child constantly. Ask for support if you have other children. Earmark a long weekend or a time when you have two parents or carers at home.
When you don’t need to leave the house, you’ll have more success if you stay home, devote all your attention to your child and begin developing routines around toilet training.
Start Toilet Training – Day 1
Once you’ve chosen a perfect time to start toilet training, you should read our more detailed article on how to start toilet training — day 1. The main points are listed briefly below:
- Take off their nappy and put on some ‘big girl’ or ‘big boy’ pants. Unless your child is usually dry at night, it may be easier to focus on day training at first.
- Take your child to the toilet and explain what they need to do. Make sure they know the right words’ pee’, ‘toilet’ etc.
- Watch for signs they need to go – crossing legs, passing wind, going quiet – and take them at predictable times – after a nap, after lunch etc.
- If you think they need to go or if they start to take them to the toilet. Don’t make them sit for long if nothing happens — they may feel like they’re being punished.
- Praise, praise, praise. If you get to pee in the toilet on Day 1, that is certainly something to celebrate.
- However, the Chances are that you won’t get many pees in the toilet on the first day. This is the day when your child is learning to identify the need to go, don’t be discouraged.
- If your child has an accident, don’t make a big deal out of it.
- Teach them the correct wiping technique — although you will have to wipe your child’s bottom at first. Also, teach them the proper hand washing technique.
- Congratulate yourself and prepare yourself for tomorrow!
Tips for Toilet Training
Here are some tips to help get your child familiar with using the potty or toilet. Feel free to pick and choose – what suits one parent and child may not suit another.
- Watch out for signs that help you understand if they are ready to be toilet trained (see above).
- Introduce them to a potty or toilet – let them sit on it with their clothes on so they become familiar with it.
- Let them watch you in the bathroom to understand the process.
- Observe any patterns, noting the times at which your child usually pees or poops. When you know that your child is expected to pee or poop, sit them on the potty or toilet. They might not do anything initially, but eventually, they’ll realise what they are expected to do. (Don’t make them sit on it for too long a time if they are not doing anything – it shouldn’t look like they’re being punished.)
- Praise them when they’re successful in peeing or pooping in the potty/toilet as a way of encouraging them.
- Also, praise them when they have had a perfect go, even if they are not successful.
- Have them drink a lot of water before they are expected to poop – it softens the poop, so it’s easy to pass.
- At regular intervals, ask your child if they need to pee or poop. They might be busy playing so that by the time they realise, it’s too late.
- Dress them in clothes that can easily be removed if they want to use the toilet themselves.
- Ask them if they need to pee just before going to bed.
- If necessary, wake up your little one once or twice at night for them to pee, so they don’t wet their bed.
- Also, remember that accidents happen. Don’t tell your child off after an accident – it may discourage them from trying again.
Teaching Them Hygiene
In addition to assisting them with using the toilet or potty, you can teach them how to wipe themselves and clean and wash their hands afterwards.
- Teach your child to wipe their bottoms thoroughly. You can use pre-moistened wipes for your little ones to brush their bottom effectively (remember not to flush unless they are flushable).
- Teach them to flush the toilet and wipe the toilet seat or their potty.
- Demonstrate to them how to wash their hands – first, wet them, then apply soap, then scrub for at least 25 seconds to cover their whole hands, then rinse and dry.
- Teach your child to clean themselves properly even after peeing.
- We are maintaining consistency between home and child care.
Your child needs to have similar experiences and routines at home and their child care.
Share your toilet training strategies with the educators at the care centre your child attends.
Inform them about any signs that your child uses at home to tell them that they need to use the toilet. My Baby Nursery has the best range of high chairs for your baby. Check them out here.
It may also be helpful to find out from educators about your child’s toileting experiences at the end of each day. Many services have a chart or whiteboard, which you can see how your child did that day.
You can also share your hygiene routines with the educators because you don’t want your child to be confused with different experiences at home and in child care.
Tips for Toilet Training Boys Versus Girls
For the most part, toilet training girls are no different from toilet training boys, but there are a few specific things to each gender. Here are some tips:
- Teach girls that they need to wipe after a wee as well as a poo. They also need to wipe from front to back. This is more hygienic and can reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.
- Boys need to be told to shake off the last drops of wee or else they’ll get on his pants.
- Decide whether you’ll teach your boy to pee sitting down at first or standing up.
- Make sure you teach your boy to aim. You are trying to put some rolled up paper in the toilet as a target.
Toilet Training for Night
If your toddler wakes up with a dry nappy most mornings, they are probably ready to toilet train for the night. If their nappies are still packed in the morning, you might decide to wait longer. Here are a few tips for successful nighttime toilet training:
- Make sure your child isn’t exhausted when they go to bed. If they sleep too deeply, they won’t notice if they need to pee.
- Invest in some good quality, fitted, waterproof mattress protectors just in case.
- Please make sure they go to the toilet right before bedtime.
- Don’t stress if they continue to get wet at night. If they’re not ready, then they’re not prepared. Put them back in nappies for the night.
- And don’t stress about occasional accidents. Many children wet the bed until they are 7 or 8 years old.
It can take toilet-trained children months or even years to become dry at night.
The main sign that your child is becoming dry overnight is a dry nappy first thing in the morning. When you notice this starting to happen, you can try stopping nappies at night.
Bedwetting is common, even in school-age children. If your child wets the bed, there are things you can do about it when you and your child are ready.
Setbacks and Accidents While Toilet Training
Accidents and setbacks are part of toilet training.
Children might get upset because of an accident or setback. If this happens, reassure your child that it doesn’t matter and there’s no need to worry.
Here are ideas to help avoid accidents:
- Pay attention to your child if they say they need the toilet straight away. They might be right!
- If you’re sure your child hasn’t done a poo or wee in a while, remind them that they might need to go. Your child might be too busy doing an activity to go to the toilet.
- Check whether your child wants to go to the bathroom during a long playtime or before an outing. If your child doesn’t want to go, that’s fine.
- Try to make sure the potty or toilet is always easy to get to and use.
- Ask your child to wee just before going to bed.
Learning to use the toilet is like learning any new skill – it takes time.
Each child learns at their own pace, and while some children will learn to use the toilet within a week, the process will be a much longer one for many others.
Your child will eventually learn to use the toilet in their own time. Check out our range of baby nursery products and furniture for all your baby needs.
By working in partnership with the educators at your child care service, the process of learning to use the toilet can be a positive and gratifying experience for all concerned.