Toddler Health

As your baby's first birthday approaches, they're on their way to taking their first wobbly steps into toddlerhood. They're learning at an incredible rate, as shuffling develops into walking and their usual baby talk becomes more recognisable as words.

While they’re learning to stand on their own two feet and discovering how to assert their independence, you’ll have many new challenges to face too.

The articles in this section include helpful advice about stimulating your toddler’s development, understanding and coping with toddler tantrums, and keeping your toddler healthy as they grow.

Ten Tips For Potty Training Your Toddler

Teaching your child how to use a toilet or potty can be a challenge. If you’re unsure of how to potty train, these top ten tips should help you leave the nappies behind.

  1. Wait until they’re ready
  2. When to start potty training is the big question. Starting toilet training too soon is likely to lead to both the child and the parent feeling frustrated and stressed. At worst, it can be distressing for a child, and lead to issues even when they are physically ready. There’s no set potty training age as each child is different, but most will have gained daytime bowel and bladder control between 18 and 36 months old. If you have any concerns about your child’s control, speak to your doctor.

    Signs that your child may be ready to start potty training include:

    • Able to walk, sit down and follow simple instructions
    • Keeps his nappy dry for at least two hours or during naps (showing that his bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine)
    • Happy to sit in one position for two to five minutes
    • Able to pull pants up and down
    • Shows a dislike of the feeling of wearing a wet or soiled nappy
    • Shows an awareness of making a bowel movement (he might squat, make noise or tell you)
    • Has names for stools and urine
    • Shows an interest in using the toilet or potty
  3. Remember there are different stages of being ready
  4. Children are normally able to control their bowel before their bladder, so keep this in mind. It also takes longer for a child to learn to stay dry at night. While most children will be dry during the day by age three, night-time dryness usually comes between the ages of three and five years old.When your child is waking up with a dry nappy most mornings, it’s time to start night-time training.

  5. Consistency is key
  6. Once you’re sure that your child is ready for toilet training, remain consistent in your approach. Keeping your child in a nappy during this time can make it difficult for them to tell if they’ve had an accident, as they won’t feel the wetness. Likewise, if you put your child in proper pants while in the house, but switch to nappies to prevent accidents elsewhere, this can be confusing and ultimately hinder their progress.

  7. Think about using training pants
  8. Training pants, or pull-ups, can be useful as part of potty training. They’re typically not as absorbent as regular nappies, making it easier for your child to tell when they’re wet. They can also be pulled up and down easily, helping the transition to proper pants. Training pants should only be used as a step towards proper pants, however. Don’t swap and switch between the two.

  9. Give regular reminders
  10. Asking your child throughout the day whether they need the toilet can help keep it at the front of their mind and reduce the risk of accidents. Encourage them to sit on the potty or toilet when they first wake up and for a few minutes at two-hour intervals. You might also want to ask your child if he needs the toilet at particular times of day – when they’ve just had a drink, before a nap, or before you leave the house, for example. Many parents also find that waking their child in the middle of the night (before the parent goes to bed) to use the toilet can help prevent night-time accidents; however, it’s important to make sure that they are fully awake when they go.

  11. Avoid fiddly clothes
  12. One of the simplest potty training tips is to dress your child in clothes that are quick and easy to get on and off. Avoid tights, tight trousers or clothes with lots of buttons to undo.

  13. Expect accidents
  14. All children will have accidents when potty training, so being prepared will make them easier to deal with. Ask your child to let you know if they’ve wet or soiled their nappy or pants – and deal with cleaning and changing them without fuss or irritation. A waterproof sheet will help to protect their mattress, and having cleaning products in the cupboard will make those inevitable spills and stains a non-issue.

  15. Praise, don’t punish
  16. Potty training can be a trying time for parents, but it’s really important to be patient with your child. Getting frustrated with a child who’s finding it hard to grasp potty training, or angry with your child for having an accident, is unfair and counter productive.

    Be sure to give your child lots of praise and encouragement every time they sit on the potty or toilet. Don’t reserve your praise just for when they’ve used it. You could also give your child lots of praise after a dry night. Some parents like to use a sticker chart or reward system; however, don’t ever punish your child for having an accident.

  17. Make them comfortable
  18. Many parents find it easier to use a potty during the early stages of potty training, while others prefer their child to go straight to using the toilet. If using a potty, consider keeping it in the bathroom. This will give your child privacy and get them used to the act of going to the bathroom to use the toilet. If you’ve decided not to use a potty, a child toilet seat and a step will help them feel more comfortable, as well as raising their feet to the correct ‘pooing position’ (feet flat, bent legs, with knees higher than hips). A nightlight is also essential for those night-time toilet trips.

  19. Keep them entertained

Keeping your child entertained while they’re sitting on the toilet or potty can encourage them to stay there for longer, so keep some books and toys to hand. Just be sure to choose ones that can be easily wiped down with an antibacterial wipe!

If you’re doing all that you can to help your child make that big transition from nappies to being fully potty trained, but they’re resisting or still finding it difficult after a few weeks, it’s likely that they’re simply not ready. Pushing them will be frustrating and upsetting for both of you, so the best thing to do is take a break and try again in a few months.

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