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Parenting -- Toilet training: a practical guide (1)

Key points

  • Children might be ready for toilet training if they have dry nappies for 2 or more hours, know about poos and wees, and can pull pants up and down.

  • Toilet training equipment includes a potty or small toilet seat and training pants or undies.

  • Try to start toilet training when there are no big changes coming up for your family.

  • Make going to the toilet part of your child’s routine. Remind your child to go, and praise your child for trying.

  • Toilet training can take days, months or weeks. Be patient and keep encouraging your child.

Toilet training: signs that children are ready

You might see signs that your child is ready for toilet training from about 2 years on. Some children show signs of being ready as early as 18 months, and some might be older than 2 years.

It might be time for toilet training if your child:

  • is walking and can sit for short periods of time

  • is generally more independent, including saying ‘no’ more often

  • is interested in watching others go to the toilet

  • has dry nappies for 2 or more hours

  • tells you with words or gestures when they do a poo or wee in their nappy

  • begins to dislike wearing a nappy, perhaps trying to pull it off when it’s wet or soiled

  • has regular, soft, formed bowel movements

  • can pull their pants up and down

  • can follow simple instructions like ‘Give the ball to Daddy’.

Not all these signs need to be present when your child is ready. A general trend will let you know when it’s time to start.

Preparing children for toilet training

Well before you start toilet training, you can prepare your child for this big step. Here are ideas:

  • Start teaching your child words for going to the toilet – for example, ‘wee’, ‘poo’ and ‘I need to go’.

  • When you change your child’s nappy, put wet and dirty nappies in the potty – this can help your child understand what the potty is for.

  • Let your child watch you or other trusted family members using the toilet, and talk about what you’re doing.

  • Once or twice a day, start putting training pants on your child – this helps your child understand the feeling of wetness.

  • Make sure your child is eating plenty of fibre and drinking plenty of water, so they don’t get constipated. Constipation can make toilet training harder.

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