Toilet training guide

How and when to start toilet training



  • Buy a potty or training seat, 12 pairs of pants or knickers, some elasticated waist trousers, and pull-ups or disposable nappies


  • Put the potty or training seat in the bathroom, or downstairs toilet, and tell your child what it’s for. Don’t worry if she plays with it like a toy.
  • Read books about going on the potty or toilet to your child.
  • Let your child practise sitting on the potty or toilet without expecting her to do anything


  • Dress your child in pants or knickers and clothing that is easy to remove.
  • Create a routine – have your child sit on the potty or toilet when she first wakes up, after meals, before getting in the car and before bed.
  • If your child looks like she needs to go – tell, don’t ask! Say, ‘Let’s go to the potty/toilet.’ Do this regularly,
  • Boys and girls both can learn sitting down. Teach your son to hold his penis down. He can learn to stand when he’s tall enough to reach.
  • Your child must relax to go, so read a book together, tell a story, sing or talk about the day.
  • Make hand-washing a fun part of the routine. Keep a step stool by the sink, and have colourful, child-friendly soap.
  • Praise her when she goes.
  • Expect accidents, and clean them up calmly.
  • Use pull-ups or nappies for car trips, for practical reasons or invest in a car seat liner.
  • Visit new bathrooms frequently when away from home, so your child gets used to using the loo in different places.
  • Be patient! It will take three to 12 months for your child to use the toilet independently.


  • If your child has temper tantrums or gets upset about potty training, or if you find yourself getting angry. Try again in a month or two. Remember, all children develop at different rates, so don’t be surprised if progress is slow. Your toddler will master this stage, but if you are concerned, contact your health visitor.

To read more on potty training, see The No-Cry Potty Training Solution by Elizabeth Pantley (£6.99, McGraw-Hill).


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