It's potty time!


Both parents and practitioners were keen that our toolkit had information and links about toilet training. Coming out of nappies can be quite an emotional experience for both parent and child. Children develop at different times and while one child will be showing signs that they are ready to start the process, others will take a bit longer.









When to start? 


Most parents think about potty training with their toddler after about 18  months or as he approaches his second birthday but, like most milestones in childhood, there are no absolutes. Every child develops at a different pace and it’s more important to look out for the following signs that he’s ready to potty train rather than his age. Such as:


  • they know when they've got a wet or dirty nappy
  • they get to know when they're passing urine and may tell you they're doing it
  • the gap between wetting is at least an hour (if it's less, potty training may fail, and at the very least will be extremely hard work for you)
  • they show they need to pee by fidgeting or going somewhere quiet or hidden
  • they know when they need to pee and may say so in advance

Toilet training is usually fastest if your child is at the last stage before you start the training. If you start earlier, be prepared for a lot of accidents as your child learns. They also need to be able to sit on the potty and get up from it when they’re done, and follow your instructions.


Getting ready for potty training


Using a potty will be new to your child, so get them used to the idea gradually. It’s usually easier if boys start by sitting on the potty before they switch to standing up later on.


Talk about your child's nappy changes as you do them, so they understand wee and poo and what a wet nappy means. If you always change their nappy in the bathroom when you're at home, they will learn that's the place where people go to the loo. Helping you flush the toilet and wash their hands is also a good idea.


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. It helps to let your child see you using the toilet and explain what you're doing. Using your child's toys to show what the potty is for can also help.


You could see if your child is happy to sit on the potty for a moment, just to get used to it, when you're changing their nappy, especially when you're getting them dressed for the day or ready for bed at night.



'It might seem hard but to help make the process less anxious, try and stay relaxed, expect the inevitable accidents, and be prepared to try something different if it’s not working for one or both of you. As with any other childhood routine, consistency is the key.' 

Health Visitor, South Somerset


General potty-training tips


  • There are many tips on how to potty train your toddler. Some of the most common include:
  • Leave a potty where your toddler can see it and make sure that they understand what it’s for.
  • If he has a regular bowel movement at the same time each day, try keeping his nappy off and suggest using the potty instead.
  • As soon as you see that your toddler is ready to pee encourage him to use his potty. If he’s too late, don’t make a fuss, you don’t want him to become anxious and worried.
  • You may find that your toddler will react well to lots of praise and encouragement, and will be more likely to ask to use the potty or toilet themselves.
  • This is a good time to introduce hand washing too 

If you have any concerns about your child's toilet training you can contact your health visitor or make an appointment to see your GP.



For further advice about toilet training go to: or download the toilet training checklist:

ERIC's Guide to Potty Training