Toilet or “potty” training is the process of teaching children bladder and bowel control. While most children reach this milestone between the ages of 2 and 4 years old, every child develops at their own pace. Some children have extra physical, developmental or behavioural challenges.
How to potty train
Using a potty is a new skill for your child to learn. It's best to take it slowly and go at your child's pace. Being patient with them will help them get it right, even if you sometimes feel frustrated.
Children are able to control their bladder and bowels when they're physically ready and when they want to be dry and clean. Every child is different, so it's best not to compare your child with others.
Bear in mind that most children can control their bowels before their bladder.
It usually takes a little longer for children to learn to stay dry throughout the night. Although most learn this between the ages of 3 and 5, up to 1 in 5 children aged 5 sometimes wet the bed.
Remember, you can't force your child to use a potty. If they're not ready, you won't be able to make them use it. In time, they will want to use one – most children won't want to go to school in nappies any more than you would want them to.
In the meantime, the best thing you can do is to encourage the behaviour you want.
Most parents start thinking about potty training when their child is between 2 and 2 and a half, but there's no perfect time. Some people find it easier to start in the summer, when there are fewer clothes to take off and washed clothes dry more quickly.
Try potty training when there are no great disruptions or changes to your child's or your family's routine. It's important to stay consistent, so you don’t confuse your child.
If you go out, take the potty with you, so your child understands that you'd like them to wee or poo in the potty every time they need to go. Check that any other people who look after your child can help with potty training in the same way as you.
You can try to work out when your child is ready. There are a number of signs that your child is starting to develop bladder control:
Potty training is usually fastest if your child is at the last stage before you start the training. If you start earlier, be prepared for a lot of accidents as your child learns.
They also need to be able to sit on the potty and get up from it when they’re done, and follow your instructions.