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Potty training

Many children find toilet training difficult. Some learn quickly, while others can take longer. It’s common for children to slip back occasionally after making good progress.  They learn better when they do not feel anxious so although it can be frustrating, especially when out, try to keep calm.

When should I start potty training my child?

All children are different. As a guide, your child will be ready for toilet training if they:

  • can remain dry and clean for two hours or more
  • know when they empty their bladder or bowels
  • show an interest in sitting on a potty or toilet
  • have a regular pattern to when they wet or soil their nappy.

How can I prepare my child for potty training?

Start a toilet chart to see how often your child might need to use the potty. Check their nappy at regular intervals to find out if it’s wet or soiled.

It may take a week or two before you spot any pattern in the chart. If you do, for example your child wets their nappy between 12 and 2pm, you could try introducing ‘potty time’ just before that time.

If  you do not see a pattern, start ‘try for a wee on the potty’ before lunch or bath time.

Potty or toilet?

Decide whether to start using a potty or to begin directly using the toilet. If you decide to use the toilet, a special seat to reduce the size of the seat may be helpful.

Reward your child

Choose a rewarding activity for you and your child to do while they sit on the potty. For example, look at a book or picture, listen to nursery rhymes or an audio story.

What happens at nursery or school?

Children ask to go to the toilet and wash their hands before morning break, lunch time and before the end of the day. This is a good routine to aim for.

What should happen when my child’s on their potty?

Make sure you have plenty of time and do not rush your child. Give them time, but do not keep them there so long they get bored. Aim for 10 minutes at the very most.

Talk to your child about what you’re doing. For example, say that “we are waiting for a wee-wee.” Games and activities that involve blowing, such as bubbles and whistles will naturally encourage the stomach pushes needed to go to the toilet. A running tap might also be helpful.

When your child successfully uses the potty, use your chosen activity as a reward. For example, give them a new book to read on the potty, or a new picture to pin up on the wall.

Gradually increase how often you have potty time. It’s a good idea to start trying 2 hours before and 2 hours after a time that seems successful.

Should I use training pants for my child?

Yes. You can start using training pants at any stage once you start potty training. A good time to start is when you have one successful potty time every day.

Training pants are like a nappy with an elasticated waistband. They’re less tight-fitting and easier for you and your child to pull up and down. Some children can move straight from nappies to pants.

What else can I do to help potty train my child?

Dress your child in loose fitting clothes. Your child may be more aware when they’re wet and soiled if they wear pants.

Remember, all children are different. Some need to use the potty more often than every 2 hours and others may be able to wait 3 hours or more but then need to go urgently.

Rely on your instinct and knowledge of your child to come up with a potty training plan that suits them.