We’ve got some tried and tested ways to make your potty training journey successful and as stress free as possible right from the get go. Follow our potty training tips for girls and boys and it can be as easy as one, two, wee!   

Before you start... 

  • Make sure your child is drinking plenty: Encourage your child to have around 6–8 cups of water-based fluid throughout the day. This will help them to recognise the full bladder signal and avoid constipation. Avoid fizzy or caffeinated drinks and sugary drinks. Limiting drinks to help them stay dry might seem like a good idea but has the opposite effect! Our bladder needs to be filled and emptied regularly to keep it working well.  
     
  • Look out for signs of constipation: Poo problems are very common in young children and need to be treated first before you start potty training. They should be doing a poo at least four times a week and it should be soft and easy to pass.  Leaking, runny poo can also be a sign of constipation.  ERIC's Guide to Children's Bowel Problems has more information on spotting the signs of constipation and how it should be treated.  
     
  • Communicate with others and be consistent: Let everyone else who looks after your child (relatives, nursery, childminder) know that you’re starting potty training and the way you’re planning to do it. That way your child will get a consistent message about what’s being asked of them whoever they are with and potty training is more likely to go well. It really helps if everyone who cares for your child is doing the same thing. 
     
  • Go potty shopping together: Let your child choose a potty (you may need more than one to begin with). Keep it in the bathroom and let them practise sitting on it.  
  • Invest in a toilet seat and foot stool: Some children prefer to use the toilet from the beginning. Just make sure it’s as easy as possible for them to get on/off and sit comfortably. Toilet seats and stools are great for helping them to feel secure and get into a good position, so their knees are angled slightly up from their hips, not legs dangling down. 

Once you’ve got going...  

  • Dress them in easy clothing: Choose things that are easy for your child to pull up and down themselves. Avoid dungarees, fiddly zips and buttons. Practise getting dressed and undressed. Let your child choose their own pants and practise wearing them to get used to the feeling. 
     
  • Get into a potty time routine: Use simple commands every couple of hours such as “It’s toilet time now” rather than asking "Do you need a wee?" every 10 minutes. Your child is learning to recognise a whole new feeling and way of managing their body. Rather than asking your child if they need a wee or a poo (they’re learning what this feels like at first) instead tell them that it’s 'potty or toilet time' every couple of hours. This makes it a simple command rather than a question they can say no to!    
     
  • Keep it short: Little children get bored easily! They don’t need to sit on the potty or toilet for longer than 2 or 3 minutes. Have some toys and books ready to occupy them whilst they sit.
  • Encourage boys to sit down to wee: Not only will this make it easier for them to fully empty their bladder, but it’s also an excellent way to avoid constipation. How many times have you sat for a wee and then realised you actually needed to do a poo too?! 

Staying on the right track...

  • Try not to use nappies or pull ups ‘just in case’: Going in and out of nappies might save time cleaning up puddles, but it won’t help your child potty train in the long run. Accidents are a pain but will be how they learn. Switching between nappies and pants gives children a mixed message. Use washable pants and things like a car seat cover.   
     
    Give lots of praise: For each little step like sitting on the potty, washing hands and getting dressed. Rewards are a good incentive – make them small and instant, like a sticker.  
     
  • Be patient: Potty training is a skill which may take some time to learn, so don’t be surprised if there are lots of accidents to start with. You might decide your child isn’t ready after all, in which case stop potty training and have another go in a few weeks. 

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