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Stopping wearing nappies and learning how to use the potty independently is a big milestone for your child. There are lots of new and exciting skills for them to learn with your help.

Spending time preparing your child in advance of taking their nappy away is the best way to help them move on to the next step. 

Why is preparing for potty training important? 

Just like when they learn to talk, walk and feed themselves, the best way to help your child get the hang of potty training is to give them lots of practice, support and encouragement. You are the best teacher they can learn from!

What about 'readiness'? 

You don’t need to wait until your child is ‘ready’ and able to do everything on their own before they can start learning toileting skills. You also don’t need to wait until they tell you they no longer want to wear nappies either.

Research shows that taking the lead with your child and following a gentle learning process is the best way to help your child learn the skills they need to become toilet trained.

Potty training = a learning process

Most children will be able to take the lead in many parts of the potty training process from around 18 months and will be doing most things by themselves when they start school.

By starting the learning process before 18 months, it means that when you decide to stop using nappies or pull-ups, your child will already have some skills they need to make the move to pants and potty easier for them and less stressful for you both.

How about children with additional needs? 

If your child has an additional need, they may find the process harder and need more support to learn to use a potty or toilet. This can be challenging for them and for you, but it's important not to avoid potty training for too long. Almost all children can learn to be clean and dry, but the longer they wear nappies, the harder it may be to introduce a new place for them to wee and poo.
Get more help with supporting children with additional needs and toilet training.


  • Like learning to walk and speak, potty training is something we need to teach our child – it takes plenty of practice and encouragement.
  • There’s no need to wait for your child to show ‘signs of readiness’ and able to do everything on their own before they can start learning toileting skills.
  • YOU are your child’s best teacher to lead them through this process. Have confidence, use our guide and Let’s Go Potty!

What do we need? 

  • A potty (more than one ideally) that is low to the ground so your child can use it independently.
  • Some children may prefer to go straight to using the toilet, in which case it is best if they use a children’s toilet seat and a step stool. Having feet firmly on the floor or a stool is the ideal position for toileting.
  • A travel potty is really helpful for when you and your child go out.
  • Reusable cloth potty training pants are very handy if you are travelling or when your child is at nursery. These are like underwear but with an absorbent layer to help soak up accidents which can be washed and used again.

Tips to prepare your child for potty training

Imagine wearing a nappy from birth, and then suddenly one day it’s taken off and a potty appears! No wonder that can feel confusing and even a little overwhelming to a toddler.

Here are some tips to help get your child ready for potty training:

  • Try to change nappies or pull-ups as soon as they are wet or soiled. This teaches your child that it is normal to be clean and dry.
  • Once your child can stand, do nappy or pull-up changes standing up and involve them in cleaning up and flushing poo down the toilet. This will teach your child where wee and poo goes.
  • Leave your child’s nappy or pull-up off for up to 30 minutes after your child has had a wee or poo. This will help them get used to not wearing it, without having an accident.
  • Having regular, short periods without wearing a nappy or pull-up can help prepare your child for how it will feel when they stop using them completely.
  • If you use disposable nappies or pull-ups, you can add a washable, reusable cloth flannel into it so that it feels wet when your child wees. This is because disposables instantly wick away the moisture, making it harder for your child to feel when they have done a wee. Make sure to remove the cloth as soon as it gets wet to avoid nappy rash.


If your child gets very upset without a nappy or pull-up on, or starts to avoid doing a wee or poo (withholding), it could be a sign that your child is constipated. Signs of constipation in children and how it should be treated.

It’s really important to make sure any underlying constipation is treated first before you stop using nappies or pull-ups. This will make the potty training process much easier for them.

Step 2: Potty training practice