Sunday, 1 February 2015

How to toilet train a toddler

I have two little ones that have been successfully toilet trained with minimal fuss. Both are dry through the night and I'm not having to use night-time nappies/pants or whatever they are called! We had very few accidents & I only carried around spare clothes with me for a few weeks (& importantly I never needed to use them!). My daughter did wet herself when we were at a friends for lunch & we had to borrow clothes, and there were a few incidents at nursery but that has been the extent of her mishaps. My son has had zero accidents, with me anyway.
So, what's my secret?

That's it folks, no real secret. The key was waiting for the right time.

I was in no rush to toilet train the kids. As long as they were using the toilet confidently before starting school, I wasn't overly concerned if they were 2, 3 or 4 years old when it happened. Every child develops differently.

My son was out of nappies first, aged 3.5 years. He decided one day that he fancied wearing big boy pants (which I had purchased in advance, anticipating that this moment would come), and so I put them on him and there was no going back. I cancelled all plans and we stayed at the house. We had a few accidents on Day 1 but I stuck with it and by Day 2 he was a pro! We had been reading Pirate Pete, the potty training book, and this probably encouraged him somewhat.

One point to note - I decided against using a potty. I think they're pretty foul, so we just bypassed this and went straight for the big toilet! I had bought a little seat from the supermarket for it & I had a step too for them to climb up.

I had him in nappies at bedtime, but he really didn't need them and so after a few weeks these disappeared. I also didn't need to lift him before I went to bed as I've heard some parents doing. I started to cut back the huge drinks of milk before bed and so long as he went to toilet before going to sleep, he's managed to go through until the morning.

I've not had to change a single wet sheet, for either of the kids. Phew! 

My daughter was a bit younger when she decided she wanted to wear big girl pants. And at about 2.5 years old we started the toilet training.

She had quite a few accidents at nursery. Never too many with me, but I was more on top of her & checking if she needed to go I guess rather than her being in a busy room with lots of children at her nursery. As I said before, we had only the one accident when we were out & about. I think I probably could have waited and the accidents would have been less, but as she was so keen I just went with it.

Their dad was equally supportive and we were both on the same page with the toilet training which certainly helped.

Get stocked up. Buy some big boy/girl pants and a potty or toilet seat and have them ready in your house for when the time comes. Get plenty pairs of cheap pants - you may end up having to wash lots in the first few weeks. I also got a few pairs of elasticated shorts for my son to wear - easy for him to get on and off himself.

And then wait. Wait until your child is ready. There's absolutely no need to rush.

Easier said than done, but try and relax. It's not a big deal if they have an accident. These things happen. Get them cleaned up, mop the floor & move on. I bought waterproof mattress covers but turns out I didn't need them, but best to be on the safe side!

Give lots of positive reinforcement & encouragement when they manage to go to the toilet without an accident. A sticker reward chart or a marble jar might be a good idea & they could pick a new toy when the jar is full.

Get a storybook from the library about using a potty, again good to reinforce what you're teaching.

Don't confuse them by going between nappies and no nappies. If you're going to let them wear the big boy/girl pants, then do so and keep doing so. You can't do it one day and then not the next. The sooner you can ditch night time nappies the better in my opinion.

What are your tips for toilet training?

Yay - no more nappies!!!


  1. Such great tips, I think waiting until the right time is key. We potty trained LP when she was 26 months and she was a pro. Thinking it may be a little later with Little Man x

  2. I feel the same about waiting till they are ready, both of mine were just past their third birthday but Declan is still wet at night time and has no idea that he is even weeing. He will sleep through even if he has wee'd in undies so I know he isn't ready for that yet! Any tips for night time training? He doesn't have a drink past tea time and always has a big wee before bed!

    1. I guess all kids are different and perhaps his bladder just isn't ready for such long stretches. I have a few friends who have their little ones in night-time nappies and they are 5 years old - they're perfectly capable during the day to go to the toilet but just don't manage at night. I really wouldn't be too concerned. It will come with time. Definitely agree no drinks late on and toilet visit before bed. I think I've been lucky that mine were ready to go through the night very quickly. Do let me know how you get on x

  3. I love your methed of toilet training without the potty and without pullups. I feel a lot of pressure from others to toilet train but I want to make sure he is ready. He was 2 in February. He tells me when he has pood. Did your kids have dry nappys at night before u started? and did u talk about peeing first? Thank you so much for your help. I love your blog


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