Potty training can be a frustrating and confusing time for toddlers – and stressful for parents too. Let's face it, no one wants to clean up accidents! A great way to prepare your toddler is to talk to them about using the potty and start reading them stories in the months and weeks before you begin potty training.
Seeing a character that they can relate to in a book helps them to understand the basics of using the potty or toilet, shows them what happens when they have an accident, makes the whole process more familiar and less daunting, and gets them used to the idea of swapping nappies for big kid pants. And don't forget to stock up on lots of spare underwear!
From old favourites to lift-the-flap board books and interactive sounds that cheer your little one along, here's our pick of the best potty training books for kids:
1. Pirate Polly's Potty, £5.99
Best for anxious children
Age: 18 months+
While potty training for girls and boys can be different due to the way they learn and also their anatomy, some parents are not keen on gender stereotyping in children's books.
Going some way to combat this, Ladybird has added a new book to its Pirate Pete's Potty (for boys) and Princess Polly's Potty (for girls) potty training series: Pirate Polly's Potty.
Written by Andrea Pennington, all 3 of these fun sound books have easy-to-follow, vibrant pictures and words that help to address some of the worries toddlers might feel about letting go of the nappy and making the move to a potty or toilet. The 'cheer' button adds a fun element to congratulate the little pirate or princess on using the potty correctly.
Ladybird has also released accompanying colouring books and sticker books with reward charts featuring the same characters.
2. No More Nappies, £6.99
Best for parent advice
Age: 18 months+
Campbell Books has come up with a range of stories to help your little one tackle the milestones of growing up. It’s Big Steps series covers topics such as sleep and fussy eating and of course, in No More Nappies, potty training.
Featuring the super-cute toddlers Millie and Mo, each page follows their progress as they journey out of nappies and learn how to use the potty. It’s a very hands-on and hardy board book, with a strong cover and thick pages. There's lots for little ones to get involved with, including plenty of pockets and flaps, turning wheels and sliders to keep them interested. While the fun story will spark their enthusiasm for the task.
In addition, each page has helpful tips for parents and carers that are endorsed by leading Early Years Consultant, Dr Amanda Gummer.
3. I Want My Potty, £6.99
Best for making potty training fun
The Little Princess series by well-known illustrator and author Tony Ross is a long-standing favourite in our family, as it makes all of us laugh. In the 35th Anniversary Edition of I Want My Potty, the adorable and sometimes stroppy Little Princess is fed up with wearing nappies and being treated like a baby. However, when she is actually faced with the royal potty her nerve begins to wobble, as weeing and pooing in it are harder than she thought.
This no-pressure story is great for children who are embarrassed about having an accident. My daughter loved the silliness of the story, but it also helped her to understand that potty training can be tricky and she will have good and bad days.
4. All Aboard The Toilet Train (a Bing book), £6.99
Best for potty to toilet transition
If your toddler is a fan of the loveable rabbit Bing and his friend Flop, then All Aboard the Toilet Train could help them to deal with the transition from potty to toilet.
In this board book that comes with a sound button, you can join Bing as he jumps aboard the toilet train for a noisy and entertaining journey into the bathroom. Great rhyming text, bright illustrations, coupled with a reassuring message that everyone gets there in the end.
One reviewer on Amazon found that this book is great for children with autism. She said: “It is very hard to find a toilet book for kids that is tough, durable, just does the toilet, has sounds and avoids Americanisms like diaper, which for British children with language development delay and sensory processing issues needs to be avoided.”
5. Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle, £6.99
Best for occasional accidents
Once your child has mastered the potty or toilet, you and – more importantly – they shouldn’t worry if there is still the occasional accident. Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle by Axel Scheffler aims to take away the stress and embarrassment a child may feel should they not get to the toilet in time.
Pip comes over to play at Posy’s house and while they are busy playing and eating snacks they notice a puddle has formed on the floor. But who does it belong to?
This is a lovely, reassuring story that is perfectly pitched to calm a concerned little mind. Helping toddlers to understand that accidents happen and it is nothing to worry about.
6. Lulu's Loo, £7.99
Best for interactive pages
This interactive story by Camilla Reid teaches children the basics of potty training and takes them along for the ride with Lulu and her potty adventures. It follows her journey, from being given a potty from her Mummy to learning how to sit on the potty, with a few accidents along the way, and ending with her wearing big girl knickers and using the toilet. Your child can also help Lulu to do up her nappy and pull down the loo roll.
We love the bright colours, touchy feeling bits and flaps to lift, but this would be better as a board book – the flaps were a bit flimsy for this age range and didn't last very long before being ripped.
7. On My Potty, £6.99
Best for simple explanations
Using humour, simple text that is written in 'toddler speak' and fun illustrations, On My Potty by Leslie Patricelli gently explains the process of using the potty. Following a baby's thought process of where he should do his poo, we see him look at what a cat and dog do when they need the toilet and see the toddler finally realise that he would rather go in the potty than in his nappy.
It is important to note that there is an American-English version of this board book (using the word diaper rather than nappy) and a British-English version, which is published by Walker Books.
8. Potty Training Magic: The Fun Way to go Nappy-Free Fast, £7.99
Best for fast results
Aimed at parents rather than a story to read to your kids, Potty Training Magic suggests a 5-day plan created by potty training expert Amanda Jenner. The book will teach you how to spot the signs of when your toddler is ready to start potty training and how best to prepare them for the experience. Amanda also covers how to see the world through your toddler's eyes and how to overcome setbacks, such as regression and constipation.
The easy plan is said to be suitable for children with learning difficulties and aims to support parents by giving them the confidence to just go for it! The reward system works well with an older toddler, but might be a bit complicated for early potty trainers.
9. Everybody Poos, £6.50
Best for no-nonsense advice
While some parents might not like discussing poo – most toddlers love talking about it! Everybody Poos by Taro Gomi uses simple language to talk about doing a number two. The book looks at how different creatures poo – from birds to bugs – including the size, shape and frequency, as well as where they poo. The straightforward format encourages children not to be embarrassed about their bodily functions.
While it can be used for children who are just starting potty training, it is particularly useful for those children who may be nervous or unhappy about doing a poo on the potty or toilet.
10. Who's in the Loo? £5.99
Best for toilet humour
There's a long queue for the toilet and two toddlers wonder: who is in the loo? This humorous book by Jeanne Willis follows the toddlers' thought-process about which funny animal is taking a long time to use the toilet. Is it a sloth that has fallen asleep or a rhino who had a hot curry?
The funny illustrations, gentle toilet humour and rhyming text make using the toilet less scary for little ones. It addresses the urge to go to the toilet and having to hold it, and also teaches children the importance of washing their hands after using the toilet.