Young mixed race couple holding newborn baby

Take the terror out of toilet training

Most parents find toilet training daunting but these pointers will take the stress and frustration out of toilet training. Soon you’ll have your baby peeing and pooping in the potty like a pro.

Make sure your baby is ready

There’s no point starting on toilet training if your baby is just not ready for it. Every child is different so don’t start toilet training because you think your child is old enough to be out of diapers. Trying to get your child to conform to an imaginary schedule will just make them more stubborn and you more frustrated.

When your child’s peeing and pooping starts to follow a more regular schedule, they start to show an interest in the toilet, can pull their pants on and off themselves and are able to follow simple instructions, then you know they might be ready to be toilet trained. Another clear sign is your child asking for their diaper to be changed when it’s soiled.

Pick a good time to start

Before you start toilet training, you might want to make sure there are no other major changes happening in your baby’s life, such as moving house, starting school or a new sibling. Wait until things have settled down before introducing potty training into the mix.

Explain and demonstrate

Help your child understand what’s going on by explaining how what we eat and drink turns into pee and poop. There are lots of potty training books you can read to your child that explain the process.

Explaining only goes so far though. Children learn best by imitation so watching to see how you do it makes things much clearer and less scary for your child. As you’re demonstrating, tell your child what’s happening and talk through all the steps involved.

Make them feel grown up

There’s nothing children like more than imitating their parents, so tell them that soon, they’ll be using the toilet just like Mummy and Daddy. Take them shopping and let them pick out their new grown up underwear that they get to wear when they’ve learnt to use the toilet like a grown up.

Be patient and positive

Your toddler is bound to have one or two accidents as they learn. Don’t scold, punish or say things like, “You’re too big to be peeing in your pants.” This will just embarrass your child and make them feel bad. Instead, praise, clap, cheer, dance and give small rewards when they do remember to use the toilet. This makes a more lasting impression than being negative when they do something wrong.

Make it fun

If you’re using a potty or toilet seat, let your child pick it out at the shop. When you get home, write your child’s name on it and let them decorate it with stickers. Make up your own song and sing it with your child while they’re on the toilet. Add a few drops of food colouring into the toilet so the water changes colour when your child pees. Give boys a target to aim for with colourful stickers. Have a special book that you read to your child and a few toys in the bathroom to make going to the toilet fun for your child.

Other helpful hints

  • Get your child to explain the process of going to the toilet to a doll or teddy bear.
  • Let your child practice pulling their pants up and down. You can even get the stopwatch out and record their time so they can work towards ‘breaking’ their record.

Have your child spend a few hours a day without pants on. With nothing to hold pee or poop in, it’s harder for them to ignore their body’s signals.


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