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ERIC’s helpline advisor Sharron explains why going in and out of nappies when you’re potty training can hold children back.

Boy with potty

Once you’ve checked whether your child is ready to start potty training and have decided to go for it, leaving nappies behind in the daytime is the next big step to take. This can feel almost as daunting as that first time riding a bike without stabilisers! However, to make the whole process faster and easier for everyone it’s really important to leave nappies behind once and for all. Here are some tips to help you on the way...   

Be consistent:

Try to avoid switching between nappies or pull ups and pants right from the get go. Potty training is a steep learning curve for children as they have to really listen to their bodies for the first time. Going in and out of nappies risks making the process even harder as it gives them a mixed message. Children can end up feeling really confused about where and when they can wee and poo and unsure of what’s being expected of them.

For potty training to work children need to be given a consistent message.

Be bold:

Disposable nappies are very good at soaking up wee and keeping your child feeling comfortable for long stretches without feeling wet. When you put them in pants and they have an accident it helps them to connect that sensation of being wet with needing a wee.

Be patient:

Potty training is a skill which takes time for children to learn, so don’t be surprised if there are lots of accidents to start with. Puddles on the floor are all part of toilet training – try to keep calm and see it as steps along the way to success!

Stick to the rules:

We know toilet training can be a stressful time, but try to see it from your child's point of view. One minute you're playing at the park weeing happily in a nappy, but when you’re home again the pants are back on and you're expected to use the potty?! The same goes if your child spends one day a week at nursery and the next with a relative – for potty training to work children need to be given a consistent message wherever they are.

Boy with swings Be prepared:                                                                                                                                               

It’s probably best to wait until things are going well with potty training at home before you go out and about, but we know that isn't always possible. Keep your first trips short, plan where you're going and find out where your nearest toilet is. Remember to take everything you need like the potty, wipes and changes of clothes. You may also want to consider using a Dry Like Me pad to protect their pants from little accidents. 

What if it all goes wrong?

Making the leap from the security and comfort of nappies can be a real challenge for some children particularly if they have additional needs. You might decide your child isn’t ready after all, in which case stop potty training and have another go in a few weeks. 

What if they stop wanting to do a poo?

It's very common around potty training for children to get the hang of weeing but struggle to push a poo out without their nappy on. Read our tips for helping children who will only poo in a nappy.

More information and support: 

Get help with knowing when to start potty training and call our helpline to chat it through with a potty training expert. 

ERIC's guide to potty training

ERIC's guide for children with additional needs

ERIC's top 10 potty training tips