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Let's Go Potty

Let's Go Potty is dedicated to supporting families and anyone working with young children with every stage of the potty training journey from nappies to pants.

If you had 10 people in a room and asked them all when is the best age to start potty training you may be surprised to hear 10 completely different answers! Some people would say it’s possible to train infants right from birth to act on cues (also known as ‘elimination communication’) whilst others may argue that you should wait for a child to tell you they are ready.

Opinions vary, parenting styles can come in and out of fashion and the internet is full of conflicting advice which can all be very confusing… So, when really is the ‘best’ age to start toilet training and how will you know when your child is ready?   

Children learn at different rates  

The first thing to remember is that every child is different and an individual. They develop at different rates; some learning to walk in the first year with talking following on shortly after, whilst the same skills may take longer for others.  

Children learn how to use the toilet at different times too, however, most children are ready to be potty trained between 18 months and 3 years. 

Is it the right time for your family?  

You know your child better than anyone else so don’t feel you have to start potty training just because other people think you should. It also needs to be the right time for you as a family. Potty training is more likely to go well when you can devote lots of time and effort to it. If you’re moving house, going on holiday or there’s a new baby on the way, it’s probably not the best time to start teaching your child to use the potty. 

Signs of readiness 

Your child needs to be physically ready, so they’ll need to be able to sit themselves on the potty and be able to stand up when they’ve finished. 

If your child can follow instructions and let you know what they want or need, that could also be a sign of readiness.  

Keep track of wees and poos 

It helps to keep a record of your child’s wee and poo habits for a few days and get an idea of how many times a day they go for a wee and poo. If they can stay dry for an hour or two, they are ready for potty training as their bladder is storing more wee and developing control. 

The kitchen roll trick 

It can be hard to tell if a child is wet as disposable nappies are so good at soaking up wee and keeping it off the skin. A good tip is to put some folded kitchen paper into the nappy which will stay wet when they do a wee. As well as letting you know when they’ve done a wee, it may also help your child connect the feeling of being wet with weeing.  If your child starts to notice when they’ve done a wee or a poo it means they are starting to learn the signals their body is giving them – a great time to get ready for potty training. 

What about children with additional needs?   

Potty training children with additional needs can usually be done in much the same way as teaching a child without additional l needs. Nearly all children can learn to be clean and dry, but not all children will give a sign they are ready. This doesn’t mean they can’t be trained – it may just take longer.  

Children with additional  needs can’t always communicate their thoughts and feelings so you can’t rely on their signals to tell you when they’re ready to potty train. Knowing how often your child goes for a wee or poo will really help. Use ERIC’s bladder and bowel assessment chart to help you decide if they’re ready. You can then create a potty or toilet routine based on the information in the chart. 

Read  ERIC’s Guide to Potty Training  and  ERIC's Guide for Children with Additional Needs  for more information.