Tips For Toilet Training Your Toddler

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Toilet Training Tips for your toddler (002)

Tips For Toilet Training Your Toddler

Toilet train in 3 days, potty train in a week, guaranteed success. These are just some of the search engine results you will see when looking for tips on toilet training your toddler.

The amount of information available online, as well as advice from well-meaning friends and family can become overwhelming.

As the weather starts to warm up, a lot of parents decide it is the right time to start the transition from nappies. However, the secret is to start toilet training when your child is good and ready.

We hope these tips will help you to recognise the signs that your toddler is ready. As well as help make the toilet transition smoother.

Signs your child is ready

Age-wise, you may start to see signs your child is ready for toilet training from about two years of age. Of course, some children may be ready from as early as 18 months or some might be older and closer to three.

An arbitrary age is unlikely to be the best way to determine when toilet training should begin. Instead look for signs that indicate your child is ready.

Some, not all, of these signs may be present.

    • He or she lets you know when they are about to do a pee or wee. This could be by words or gestures.
    • They become interested in watching other people go to the toilet
    • He or she is uncomfortable in a dirty nappy
    • They can pull their own pants up and down
    • They can follow simple instructions

Picking a good time to start

Whilst the most important time to start is when your child is ready, there are other factors that can set you up for the best chance of success.

Warmer weather – this helps as your child will be wearing fewer layers and won’t be sitting on a cold toilet seat.

There are no major changes happening – if you are about to go through a big life event, such as moving house, a new baby or starting daycare, it is best to hold off a little until life is more settled.

When you can stay at home and have the time – you will be more successful if you can spend some time at home to devote your attention to develop routines around toilet training. A long weekend is a good option as it is often a time when two parents can be available to help.

Equipment you will need to get started

So you now know your child is ready to make a start. There is a whole raft of items on the market to assist with toilet training. But the essentials are:

      • underwear
      • potty or toilet insert
      • a step to help them reach the sink or climb up to the toilet seat

It is a good idea to involve your toddler when buying these items. As they can start to get excited about the characters on their undies or the pictures on the potty.

We also got our daughter a cheap book we found in Kmart which was about toilet training and had a sticker chart included as well. She liked to read the story and say “I can do that too”. There is a boy and girl version available.

Toilet Training give praise
Praise your child even when just trying

Before you start

To prepare for toilet training there are some things you can start doing to make the process easier.

      • Teach your toddler some word for going to the toilet – poo and wee will usually suffice. Make sure it is something you are comfortable with being screamed at the top of their lungs when out in public, because rest assured, it will happen.
      • If you recognise signs they are going to the toilet in their nappy (a lot of children will hide when doing a poo) ask them ‘are you doing a poo?’
      • Let your child watch you or your partner go to the toilet. No issues in this household I haven’t peed alone for years!
      • Let your child sit on a potty or toilet with a seat insert to help them become familiar with it. We used to sit our daughter on the toilet just before her bath each night.
      • Make sure your child is drinking lots of water to help reduce the chance of constipation

Potty or toilet seat?

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.

A potty is great because it is mobile and can be less scary than a toilet. However, it can be more work to clean up.

A toilet insert can be a good option as it means you will not have to worry about transitioning from a potty to the toilet later on.

The best thing to do is try and find out what your child prefers and go with that.

Toilet Training Potty or Toilet Seat
A potty is great for being mobile

Day 1 – Starting toilet training

Try and coincide the first day of training with a day when you do not need to leave the house. Here are our top tips to set yourself up for toilet training success.

      • Take off the nappy and get them excited about putting on their big girl or big boy undies.
      • Dress them in light clothes that are easy to take off. Dresses or skirts are perfect for girls.
      • Start with daytime toilet training unless your child is already dry at night. We switched from nappies to Dry Nites Pyjama pants at the same time as underwear in the day.
      • Watch for signs that they need to go. Such as going quiet, crossing their legs or hiding.
      • Have gentle reminders asking them if they need to go. But don’t ask too often as this can result in your child feeling pressured.
      • Take them to the toilet and sit them on there for no more than five minutes. If they do not go then get them off. You don’t want to have them sitting on the toilet for long periods of time, as they may associate this with being punished.
      • Be sure to praise your child, even when it is just for trying. If they do a wee in the toilet then be sure to celebrate their success and tell them how proud you are.
      • You might also like to introduce a sticker chart. This worked great for our daughter for the first few weeks. Then after that, she just didn’t ask for stickers anymore and was fully toilet trained
      • If your toddler has an accident don’t make a big deal about it.
      • Whilst you will be helping them to wipe in the early days, try and walk them through the process early on.
      • Teach your child to wash their hands each time after going to the bathroom.
      • If your child attends childcare, discuss this with them so they can ensure consistency is applied.
Washing hands after going to the toilet
Make washing hands part of the toilet training process

Leaving the house

If you can try and stay at home for the first few days it is recommended. But at some stage you will need to venture out.

Try and stick to places where you know a toilet is close by. And always pack a spare change of underwear and clothes.

A plastic bag for wet clothes is also a good idea.

Common setbacks and issues

Most children will have some setback when toilet training. This is just part of the process.

      • Some common setbacks include
      • Won’t poo in the toilet
      • Scared of the toilet
      • Frequent accidents
      • Regression
      • Constipation

Try and stay calm and understanding of your child during this time. Praise them for their positive achievements and try and reduce negative feelings.

Toilet training can take days, weeks or even months. Each child learns at their own pace – they will get the hang of it when they are ready.
If your child is showing signs of a number of setbacks, take a break and want a little while before trying again.

Toilet Training setbacks
Setbacks are common when toilet training

Night time toilet training

If your toddler is waking up dry most morning they are probably ready to toilet train at night. If nappies are still full it is likely best to wait a little longer.

Here are some tips to help nighttime training

      • Make sure you have purchased some good quality mattress protectors and have spare sheets readily available.
      • Encourage them to go to the toilet just before going to bed.
      • Try to limit fluid intake in the hour before bed.
      • Don’t stress if they keep wetting at night. Many children wet the bed until they are about 8 years old.

We hope these tips will help you to feel more confident about the toilet training process. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and your child. It will click in their own time with your guidance.

Do you have any other tips and tricks that have worked for you?


Cath Fowler -


Cath is a mum of two cheeky little girls and runs her own copywriting and marketing business. With a 15 year background in partnership marketing, she’s our go-to girl for making the most of business relationships here at Mums of Brisbane.


    • Claire
    • October 20, 2017

    Any ideas for a toddler that is very scared of sitting on a toilet? Uses potty fine at home but it makes it very difficult to leave the house in ‘big pants’.

    1. mm
      • Katie
      • October 20, 2017

      Hi Claire – are they scared of toilets at home too – or only unfamiliar toilets?

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