Updated: Jun 2
Learning how and when to go to the toilet requires some training. But does it all have to happen all at once? Once you put undies on, do you need to throw out the nappies to be successful? Before we explain the toilet training phases, let's get rid of the most commonly held Toilet Training myth.
There is no evidence to support that once you start toilet training you can't stop, or put a nappy back on, or that you have to do it all the time.
Our Toilet Training Expert Monica Ferrie from Toilet Training Educators, encourages you all to take the pressure off.
Did you know your child’s body has been experiencing toilet time triggers for a long time – they just don’t know what they mean yet.
A full bladder spasms, sending a message to the brain that action is required. Our brain registers. Time to find a toilet or time to hold on, and so we take action. A child’s brain gets the same message, but it’s trained to say – empty – not to make a decision to find a toilet. Adults understand that there is a consequence (and probably not a good one!) if we don’t take action – a child doesn’t.
Nappies are so absorbent that we need to help children get that feedback. Accidents help with that but so does a tissue inside the nappy to create that feeling of wetness – children need to learn the consequence of not taking action. You have been modelling this for your child – now it is time to teach/train your little one.
Toilet training tips
Many people ask when to start toilet training, and the answer is to start at a time that suits you – weekends or mornings in familiar environments.
Expect success – it may just take a little time
Expect toilet accidents – they provide feedback to the child
Take your child for a ‘try’ on the toilet every 1.5-2 hours – no more often
Attach going to the bathroom to parts of your normal routine – we always have a try on the toilet before breakfast, after playing outside – this helps the child normalise and get used to it
Make sure your child has their feet planted to poo – so a stool or stairs or potty
Throw away your change mat
Start changing and cleaning up close to the toilet, standing up
Involve the child in cleaning up – let them put the paper into the toilet and flush
Keep fluid intake up – bladder capacity matters and we need to fill it
Put a pull-up or nappy on when you go out or when you and the child have had enough for one day and for nighttime
Put a nappy on if your child has been holding on for a wee or a poo for more than four hours – let them do what they need to and then take it off again. Holding for too long isn’t healthy
Get childcare or grandparents involved if care is provided by them
If you and your child have had enough – take a break – a few weeks without pressure and anxiety can really help everyone.
What not to do while toilet training
Don’t take three weeks off work – the pressure is huge for everyone
Don’t buy a present or give incentives
Don’t make the undies a big deal – children sometimes want to keep them clean or wear them all!
Don’t drag or get involved in a power struggle – it doesn’t work and creates stress
Don’t stress about accidents
Don’t keep prompting – “Do you need to go now?”
Don’t let other people talk to your child about their toileting
Not too much fibre – it makes big bulky poo, especially if water intake is low
When toilet training, don't forget
Girls should wipe their bottoms from front to back
Boys need to shake their penis after weeing– drops of wee aren’t healthy staying in their foreskin
Foreskin should only be pulled back after three years
Teach your child to wash their hands
Teach your child to wipe their bottom after they have mastered toileting
Toilet training out and about
Continuing toilet training while out and about can be challenging, but it's not impossible. Here are some tips to help you:
Be prepared with extra clothes, undies and a plastic bag for accidents
Schedule toilet breaks
Bring a portable potty
Stay positive as accidents happen
This article was written by our Toilet Training Expert from Toilet Training Educators, Monica Ferrie from Toilet Training Experts. She teaches all things toilet training at our Toddler Masterclass and as part of our Parenting Portal.