Everything Parents Need To Know About Toilet Training A Toddler
6 March 2023
Are you looking into ditching the nappies? Toilet training your toddler is one of those milestones that takes a lot of practice and a whole lot of patience from all involved. During this time, your little one will be learning a lot of new skills, including recognising the urge to go and learning to hold it in when they aren’t around the toilet – which can be some tough concepts for little ones to grasp!
If you’re new to toilet training, you may be wondering where you should even start. To help you kick off your toilet training journey strong, we’ve put together a guide of everything parents need to know about toilet training a toddler.
When should I start toilet training my child?
When it comes to toilet training, it’s best to follow your child’s lead, rather than your own readiness. While many children will be ready to start using the toilet between 18 to 24 months, some children may not be ready until they’re 3 years old or older.
Starting toilet training too early will only upset you and your child, because they won’t be developmentally ready for such a big change. So remember to look for signs of readiness in your toddler before you start training.
It’s also important to refrain from toilet training until you’re in a settled routine. If you’re moving soon or introducing a sibling to the family in the coming months, then it will be best to hold off on the training until your toddler is back in a solid routine.
How do I know if my toddler is ready for toilet training?
A certain set of developmental milestones need to be reached before you should introduce your toddler to toilet training. These are some of the biggest tell-tale signs that your toddler may be ready:
- They can walk and sit on their own
- They can pull their pants up and down
- They can follow basic instructions
- They understand the purpose of a toilet and show interest in wearing “big kid” underwear
- They become fussy when their nappy is soiled
- They can stay dry for up to two hours
How do I get started with toilet training?
If you haven’t brought up toilet training with your toddler before, it’d be good to gently introduce them to the subject before actually starting the training. Here are some ways to get them familiar:
- Start introducing your toddler to words about toilet training like “wee,” “poo,” “toilet,” “potty,” and “I need to go,” and stick with these terms throughout toilet training – changing up the vocabulary about toilet training can confuse them.
- Check out or buy some children’s books about toilet training to pique their interest in the subject and familiarise them with the terms and actions.
- Before you start toilet training, you can place a toddler potty in the playroom or somewhere they spend a lot of time. While still fully clothed, you can encourage them to sit in the potty chair.
How do I toilet train my toddler?
Methods for toilet training will differ from family-to-family, toddler-to-toddler. However, to help you kick off toilet training, here is a basic how-to guide that you can adapt for your unique little one:
- First, you’ll need to decide whether you want to teach your toddler on a toddler potty or go straight to the regular toilet. Toddler potties are convenient since you can move them anywhere in the house and they’re easily accessible by your toddler. Or, you can choose to start with the regular toilet with a toddler seat attachment and step stool instead. You’ll also want to stock up on:
- Toddler clothes that are easy to get on and off
- Absorbent training underwear
- “Big kid” underwear
- Kid-friendly hand soap
- Try to stay home for the first couple of days if you can. This will help make the toilet training easier on you and your toddler, since they’ll know where the toilet is at all times and won’t be discouraged if they have an accident in public.
- Make toileting a part of your child’s routine. Every 2 hours, you can sit your toddler on the toilet for 2-3 minutes at a time to see if they will go. You should also start sitting them on the toilet right before bedtime or naptime, right when they wake up, and around 20 to 30 minutes after they eat. If your toddler usually goes #2 at a certain time of the day, you can try to sit them on the toilet during these times too.
- You can also encourage or remind your toddler to go to the toilet throughout the day. If you notice any signs like passing wind or wriggling around, or you realise it’s been a while since they last went, gently encourage them to try to go to the toilet. You may also need to remind them about the toilet between changes in activities, as their attention will be on playing, not using the toilet.
- Each time your toddler sits on the toilet, you should follow it with praise or even a treat. Even if they don’t go, it’s the effort that counts. Especially for the first day or so, you should think of sitting on the toilet and trying as the main goal, and actually going as just a bonus. Gradually reduce praise as your toddler masters going to the toilet.
- Don’t forget to teach your toddler about basic hygiene. Every time they go, make sure to show them how to wipe and then wash their hands immediately after.
Do I need to toilet train for naptime and night time?
When you start toilet training, you should only focus on their wake times. For naptime and bedtime, you can keep dressing them in a nappy, as it can take months or even years before a child stays dry throughout the night.
As your toddler gets older, you’ll start noticing dry nappies first thing in the morning. This is when you can stop using nappies at night, but you may still run into the occasional bed wetting, even when they’re school-age.
Is toilet training different for boys and girls?
In the beginning stages, there aren’t many differences between toilet training girls vs. boys. For boys, you’ll most likely want to start their training sitting down and then graduate to standing up for wees once they get more familiar with using a toilet.
What do I do if toilet training isn’t working for my child?
If you’ve been consistent with your toilet training, and it just isn’t working out, we recommend to take a break. Trying to force toilet training can be a frustrating time for both your child and yourself, so switch back to the nappies, don’t talk about toilet training, and revisit toilet training in about two to three months. All children will eventually learn to use the toilet on their own, so there’s no use in stressing both of you out if they just aren’t ready.
No matter how hard you try with toilet training, your toddler will learn to use the toilet at their own pace. For some, it can take days to learn, while for others, it could take months of practice before they really get the hang of it. Although it can be a stressful time, try to keep toilet training light hearted and praise the small achievements. Eventually your toddler will get there, and this will all be a thing of the past!