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Toilet Training Tips: How to Transition From Nappies to Undies

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.

  • Keep calm

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 Toilet Training Masterclass or buy our Toddler Expert Guide for information from all our Experts on the toddler stage.

Mother toilet training infant | Baby learning how to use the toilet


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