How to Help Your Child Get Ready for Potty Training
By ERIC, The Children's Bowel & Bladder Charity
Learning how to use the potty independently is a big milestone for your child. There are lots of exciting new skills for them to learn with your help. The best way to teach your child how to use the potty is to give them lots of practice and encouragement. Think of it in the same way you help your child to take their first steps and use a spoon to feed themselves - practice makes perfect and you are their best teacher!
When is the best time to start potty training?
Research shows it is better for your child’s bladder and bowel health to potty train earlier, with the best time to stop using nappies being between 18-30 months. Most children will be able to take the lead in many parts of the potty training process from around 18 months old and will be doing most things by themselves including wiping when they start school.
You don’t have to ‘wait for signs of readiness’ before beginning the potty training journey together. Your baby was born ready to learn new skills! Spending time preparing your child before taking their nappy away is the best way to help them move on to the next step. It means that when you decide to stop using nappies, they will already have some skills they need to make the move to pants and potty easier for them and less stressful for you both.
You don’t have to ‘wait for signs of readiness’ before beginning the potty training journey together. Your baby was born ready to learn new skills!
Top tips to help prepare your child for potty training:
- Introduce the potty as soon as your child can safely sit up on their own. You can use nappies most of the time, but then take them off when your little one is likely to go.
- Good times to try sitting on the potty include shortly after they wake up, after mealtimes, and any time you think they need to go (if you spot a poo face for example!)
- Once your child can stand up, do nappy or pull-up changes standing up an involve them in cleaning up or flushing poo down the toilet. This will teach your child where wee and poo goes.
- Try to change your child’s nappies or pull-ups as soon as they are wet or soiled. This teaches your child that is it normal to be clean and dry.
- Having regular, short periods without wearing a nappy or pull-up can help prepare your child for how it will feel when they stop using them completely. Just after they’ve done a wee or a poo is the best time to try this and will help them get used to not wearing it, without having an accident.
Introduce the potty as soon as your child can safely sit up on their own. You can use nappies most of the time, but then take them off when your little one is likely to go.
What if my child has an additional need?
Children with an additional need or a disability may take a little longer and need more support. However, the potty learning process is essentially the same and almost all children can learn to be clean and dry.
For more information and help with potty training, including what to do if things go wrong and more support for children with additional needs, please visit the ERIC website.
Download a printable version
About the contributor
ERIC, The Children’s Bowel & Bladder Charity is dedicated to helping all children and teenagers manage and overcome distressing continence conditions. Whether it is a toilet-training issue, bedwetting, constipation or soiling problem, ERIC provides expert support, information and understanding to children and young people and enables parents, carers and professionals to help them establish good bowel and bladder health.
ERIC’s family support includes a free helpline, parent and family workshops, online resources and information. Helpline: 0808 169 9949 open Monday – Thursday: 10am – 2pm
Five Tips for Settling your Child into a New Nursery
How talking about emotions can help children develop self-awareness
Five Ways to Make Potty Training Fun
5 tips for easier mealtimes
Toilet Train Song!
Books & Stationery