Struggling with potty training


We ask parenting expert Kathryn Mewes one reader’s question about potty training

Q: My two-year old son has zero interest in being potty trained. We have tried lots of different approaches – training seats, musical potties, books about toilet training, nappy off time with the potty in the room – but he’s just not interested. What can we do to help him?

A: This is one stage in a child’s development where they have to make the decision.

There is no way of ‘making’ a child use the loo if they are not ready.

Here are ‘signals’ to look for to suggest they might be ready:

Regularly check that their nappy is dry. Ideally they need to only be urinating every 2.5 – 3 hours. This indicates their bladder is capable of holding a substantial amount of urine.

  • Note if they ‘pause in play’ as they urinate. They need to be aware of when they wee. Many children will say: “wee wee,” as they are urinating. They are not asking for the potty they are just letting you know what is happening!
  • They start to let you know when they have done a poo and want their nappy changed ASAP. Children sitting in their own poo as they play are not ready for the potty yet!
  • They are interested in others going to the loo. Let them watch and explain what you are doing.
  • They remove their nappy before bath time and want to sit on a potty / loo. This can often be when they wee as they listen to the running of the bath water.
  • Once you see these signs you can then talk about ‘using a potty’. This needs to be done ‘bare bum’ so your child gets use to the feeling of something ‘leaving his body’ rather than being ‘caught in a nappy’.

You want to aim for 70% to reach the potty, allow for 30% accidents on the first / second day. You then want to see 90–100% in the potty by day three.

If there are more accidents than successes your child isn’t ready. Return to nappies for two to three months and then try again.

Finally – try hard not to worry or feel pressured by others. As my Mum once said: “Nobody walks down the aisle to marry in a nappy!” We all get there in the end!

Parenting expert Kathryn Mewes is brought to Baby London in conjunction with Milton. Well known as C4’s Three Day Nanny, Kathryn’s expertise covers sleep problems, eating and weaning, behavior and discipline.