I'm A Potty Training Pro, Here Are 11 Things To Know Before You Toilet Train Your Toddler

If you've got a two-storey house, you're probably potty training wrong.
Tatyana Tomsickova Photography via Getty Images

If there’s one thing every parent knows, it’s that potty training is not for the fainthearted. There will be rogue poos on your favourite rug, wet patches aplenty and occasional tears.

But at the end of it all, you’ll have a happy and confident child who no longer has to rely on nappies so much. A win for all involved – especially your bank balance.

There are five key signs a child is ready to approach potty training, according to NCT, and these will start to kick in any time between 18 months and three years old.

These signs include:

  • Your child has dry nappies for at least an hour or two at a time.
  • They seem to understand when they are having a wee and might even tell you they’re doing one.
  • They recognise when they have a wet or dirty nappy and may pull at it, take it off or ask you to change it.
  • They might show visible signs they need to go to the toilet, like fidgeting or going somewhere quiet or hidden.
  • They know when they need to wee and say so in advance.

If your child is showing signs of readiness, Amanda Jenner, a potty training expert and author of Potty Training Magic, has a few tricks up her sleeve to help you on your way to potty training success.

1. Choose your timing wisely

It’s best not to start potty training if there has been a change in circumstance, says Jenner. So, for example, if your toddler is unwell, there is a new baby in the family, you’ve just moved into a new home, your toddler has started a new childcare setting, or there are any family problems in the household.

“Starting too early can lead to failure in potty training so make sure your little one is showing all the signs they are ready before you start and don’t be influenced by others,” she advises.

2. Let everyone know you’re starting training

The potty training pro recommends telling your nursery, child carers or anyone else who looks after your child that you’re starting toilet training and filling them in on what techniques you are using, for example a reward chart or sticker system, as this helps to keep everything consistent and avoid training set-backs.

If your child is going to be spending a night away at their grandparents or a friend’s house they need to continue toilet training, as otherwise they’ll become easily confused, she adds.

3. Start at any time of the year

There is no right or wrong season for potty training, says Jenner. It can be done at any time of the year.

So importantly, if your little one is showing signs of readiness, you should go with this and not wait for the summer to arrive.

This is because if you delay training until the summer, you might find your little one shows no interest whatsoever, which will make potty training a lot more difficult for you and them.

4. Get extra help

You might want to buy a picture book or video all about potty training that you can look over with your tot. That way, you’ll both be prepared for the training ahead.

5. Get the clothes right

You don’t want to spend ages changing your toddler’s clothes, so make sure they are wearing something that’s easy to remove, suggests Jenner.

You might also want to try using training pants. “Some toddlers like them, while others just think of them as a different type of nappy (which is confusing). Most toddlers are encouraged by having real underwear instead: it makes them feel grown up,” she adds.

6. Get the right equipment

Getting the right equipment for potty training is always a good start. A child-sized potty, a carry potty or a special seat to attach to your regular toilet is key. And whichever you choose, make sure your child can sit comfortably.

7. Let them choose their own potty/toilet trainer seat

Getting your little one involved can be a massive help – after all, they are going to be the one using it. It is always helpful to have both a potty and a trainer seat to hand, says Jenner.

Try choosing a seat that matches your child’s potty in colour or design as this keeps training consistent and will help make the transition to the toilet smoother.

8. Be prepared in and out the home

If you live in a two-storey house, keep a potty upstairs and one downstairs, suggests the toilet training expert.

“Teach your toddler from day one that this is normal inside and outside the home. Take your potty and/or training seat with you wherever you go. Remind them that they have it with them as this will help them feel secure and confident,” she explains.

“This will also help reduce accidents as often there is little warning when they need to go.”

9. Don’t scold or raise your voice

Accidents will happen during the course of training so remember to keep calm, as scolding your child will result in a fear of toilet training.

10. Don’t compare your child to others

“Every child develops at a different rate, and that goes for eating, walking, talking and all the other milestones – so try not to compare your child’s potty training to anyone else’s,” says Jenner.

“You will always get those parents who tell you their toddler was trained before the age of one. Trust the signs your child is showing, and go with it.”

11. Use rewards and lots of encouragement

Praise and play-based learning has been proven to be effective approach for potty training little ones, so use reward charts, stickers, or even a reward box to fill up with special treats that they like.

It is important to reward even if they try and do not perform, says Jenner, as sometimes it can be difficult to get them sitting on the potty or the toilet and this needs a little extra encouragement.

“Make sure you reward them immediately so they get the instant gratification,” she adds.