How to tackle potty training

potty training
If your child lets you know when they 'need to go', it could be time to start potty training

Time to ditch the nappies? Ensure you’re well-prepared and you’ll ace potty training, says Louise Pyne

Mastering the switch from nappies to pants is a huge milestone in your toddler’s life, and as a parent, setting a positive tone right from the start will make the learning process a whole lot easier.

“The average age a child starts showing signs of readiness to potty train is between the age of two and two-and-a-half years, however, it’s important to remember that every child is different,” says toilet training expert Amanda Jenner ( If your little one is demonstrating cues that he’s ready to go nappy-free, here’s what you need to do to teach your child to become a pro.

1. Even though he’s showing signs, your child just isn’t interested in using the loo

Clues that your child might be physically ready to swap nappies for pants include stopping in his tracks or hiding when he needs to go, asking you to change his nappy when it’s full or tugging at the sides. But if your child doesn’t seem interested in sitting on the loo, he might not be mentally ready. Whatever you do, don’t force the issue – it might be worth taking a break and trying again in a few weeks.

“Quite possibly your child doesn’t have the verbal communication skills or he is not fully ready, so be patient and give him some time,” adds Amanda.

2. Your child still wants to poo in his nappy

If your child has mastered bladder control but still protests at the prospect of pooing on the loo he may not be emotionally ready. “This is very common. Children will often go to hide to do a poo as this is a new sensation for them and they feel embarrassed,” says Amanda. He may also be scared about having an accident, so try to offer as much reassurance as possible and don’t insist he goes to the toilet if he doesn’t want to.

“If he poos in his nappy, take him to the bathroom and let him see you flush away the contents so he can see where it goes. Give lots of positive praise when he does eventually sit on the loo to go for a poo,” adds Amanda.

3. Your child has accidents when you’re out

Accidents are all part of the toilet training learning curve, and when they do happen don’t make a big deal about them as your tot will feel like he has done something wrong. When you go out, make sure to bring at least one change of clothes with you and plenty of baby wipes.

“His bladder muscles may not be fully developed yet if he’s under two-and-a-half, so do bear this in mind. Toddlers are also very busy at this age playing and sometimes they forget to tell you that they need to go, so keep offering gentle reminders to minimise accidents,” says Amanda.

4. He’s dry in the day, but wakes up wet in the morning

If your child is dry in the day but still needs a nappy at night then tweaking your nightly routine might help him tune into his body a little more. “Reduce liquids one hour before bedtime – this includes avoiding fruit snacks, as some fruits can contain up to 80% water,” advises Amanda. Take your child to the loo just before he goes to bed and reassure him that if he wakes up in the night needing to go that he can call you for help.

5. Your child is scared of the loo

The toilet can seem like a scary place to a toddler. Your little one might be frightened of falling down it or be scared of the flushing noise, he may even feel anxious about sitting on the seat because it just feels too big. “Take your child out to chose his own seat. Allow him to decorate the seat with his favourite character stickers, and if the loo is still overwhelming, start with a potty and progress when he feels ready,” says Amanda.

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