Skip to main content

0-3 years: Toilet training

When is it the right time for your child to stop using nappies?  How will you teach them to use a potty or toilet?

Many parents worry about toilet training and getting children 'dry'.  Children develop at different rates.  Try to be patient, don't rush your child and help them learn at their own pace.  Give them plenty of praise and encouragement and whatever you do, don't worry!

Once you start toilet training, have regular routines, stay relaxed and be be prepared for accidents.

What is 'normal'?

New babies have no control over when they urinate or have bowel movements.  Around 12 months old they begin to develop a routine, so you might notice that you have to change nappies at particular times.  Most children become able to use a potty or toilet at around 2 to 3 years.  staying dry at night will come later on.

Daytime Toilet Training Tips

Watch for signs that may be ready, when they:

  • Let you know they're having a wee
  • Need to wee less often, shown by sometimes having a dry nappy
  • Can pull their own pants down
  • Show interest in the toilet or potty and being nappy-free.

Spot your child's pattern

Notice when they usually wet or soil their nappy and offer the potty or toilet at these times.  Gradually, you can begin to get them into a routine.

Get ready - and accept accidents will happen

  • Keep nappies for night use only
  • Use comfy trainer pants that hold leaks
  • Keep the potty about, so it's familiar
  • Use loose clothing so it's easy for children to take off themselves
  • Let them have periods at home without clothes on, so it's easy to use the potty
  • Stay cool about slip-ups and spills - keep old towels to hand
  • Some children will be trained in a few weeks, but others take longer

Becoming Dry Night

Children under 2 normally need nappies at night.  Many children are dry at night around 3 to 4 years, but others may not be until 7.  When they start having dry nappies often in the morning they may be ready to try going without nappies at night.

Things to remember:

  • Avoid drinks just before bedtime
  • Ignore accidents or say 'never mind'.  A plastic sheet will protect the bed
  • Be pleased when they're dry, but don't say 'good boy/girl': they're not being 'bad' when they don't manage it
  • Keep sensible bedtimes so they don't get over-tired and sleep through the signals

Are you worried about your child bedwetting or soiling?

  • They may just need more time and more support to learn good habits
  • They may be upset about something
  • They may be constipated, have an infection or some other medical problem

What can you do?

  • Don't worry about occasional accidents
  • Do look for advice or help if accidents keep happening or our child starts bedwetting after a long time of being dry
  • Try to stay calm
  • Don't blame your child or argue with your partner about it
  • Do talk to your doctor or health visitor