Toilet Training Top Tips

Practitioners will often describe a “window of opportunity” for toilet training children. A time frame where children are biologically ready, have the basic communication skills required and are eager to be like the “big children”. After this point, children can become comfortable in the familiarity of their routine and a little less willing to put up with the temporary inconvenience or discomfort of toilet training. Statistics show that most children are ready to be toilet trained between 18 months and 3 years of age. 

So... When is the time right? Watch for some of the signs in the following list: 

  • Stays dry at least two hours 
  • Dislikes wet or messy nappies
  • Likes to please 
  • Imitates and follows simple instructions 
  • Walks and runs 
  • Asks you for nappy changes 
  • Tries to dress self 
  • Likes things in proper places 
  • Has an understanding of basic toileting vocabulary 

How to toilet train positively 

Toilet training can be broken down into steps, just like any other learning process. The methods that work will vary greatly between individuals but the suggestions here are a good starting point. The first step is to choose a weekend to devote to introduce the basic concept of toilet training. We don’t expect you to “wait for the Summer and take a week off” – when the time is right, it’s right! Some of the following ideas may help: 

  1. Watch and learn! Show your child how it is done. If you have slightly older children, they may be keen to show their sibling how they use the toilet too. Make it fun! 
  2. Have your child teach a doll or teddy how to use the toilet. 
  3. Do hourly toilet-sits throughout Toilet Training Weekend, it may need to be more frequent to begin with, but they will go less often as they gain control. 
  4. If your child shows early signs of knowing when they need to go and are communicating this, respect their wishes if they say they don’t need to. This will sometimes result in accidents, but this is part of the learning process. 
  5. You will begin to see patterns, for example they will often go shortly after eating and drinking. This will help you to encourage them at the right times. 
  6. Set up a chart with stickers or a lucky dip bag for good tries and even minor successes (tiny trickles). 
  7. If their motivation wanes, pick it up with a spot of pants shopping or a phone call to a relative to share their successes. 
  8. Over time, you will lead them less and let them dictate when they go. 

A few tips from the nursery team and other parents: 

  • We have referred to “toilet training” in this guide because some children start to use a toilet straight away. Younger children sometimes need the security of a potty as the height and width of a toilet seat can be daunting. 
  • For most children, the feel of pull-ups too closely matches the feeling of nappies and you may find that hinders their learning. 
  • To succeed, children need to be able to fail. The feeling of being wet or soiled briefly gives them immediate feedback. Be light-hearted as you help them change and talk about their previous and future successes. 

Toilet Training at Nursery 

Bring plenty of spare clothes and a wet bag! Even if your child has become reliable at home, a new routine and lots of distractions present new skills for your child to master.

Bring your child’s potty, if you child uses one, but be open to your child using the toilet – nursery toilets are small and low, many children are happy to use them even if they feel a bit uncomfortable on adult sized toilets. Having the potty in a bag means we have something familiar to use if we need to.

We have a range of sticker charts and other motivators but if your child is excited about one in particular please bring it along too. 

For a more detailed and comprehensive guide to toilet training we recommend reading ERIC.

Good luck! 🙂

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