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Teaching your child how to use a potty and feel comfortable around wee and poo is a great way to introduce the next step in the potty training journey. We also explain how you can help them to learn these new skills through play.  

How to help your child start using the potty or toilet 

All children are different, but from the time your child can safely sit up by themselves, they can start sitting on a potty for wee and poo, at least some of the time. There are no fixed rules about how often to help your child use a potty, but good times to try include:

  • Shortly after they wake up
  • After mealtimes
  • Anytime you know your child needs to go, e.g. if you see them straining for a poo.

Alongside this, you can help your child develop other helpful skills such as: 

  • Words or signs that they can learn to help communicate their needs to you
  • How to push their pants down and pull them up again afterwards
  • Good personal hygiene, e.g., using toilet paper, handwashing and drying.

Why feeling comfortable using the potty is important

Teaching your child how to use a potty and feel comfortable around wee and poo, at least some of the time, gives them a gentle journey towards being independent from nappies and can help avoid many common potty-training problems in the future.

This is important, as research shows it is better for your child’s bladder and bowel health to potty train earlier, with the best time to stop using nappies being between 18-30 months.

There may be times when it is more difficult for you to help your child use a potty, for example if they are unwell or if they refuse to cooperate. At these times, it’s important not to put pressure on yourself or your child and only do what feels manageable for you both.

Helping your child to learn through play

Using play can help teach your child what you expect as well as motivate them. You can use stories, characters and toys to explain to your child what they need to do and teach them how to do it.

For example:

  • Have a favourite doll or toy pretend to use the potty.
  • Show them how you use the toilet too. 
  • Use books and pictures to show how things work
  • Help your child add some stickers to their potty to make it their own
  • Set aside some toys or books that they only look at when on the potty or toilet

Visit the potty training area of our online shop for a range of books and our very own wee and poo cuddly toys!

Remember: Give your child plenty of encouragement and praise all their efforts. When your child does use the potty or manages to stay dry, even if it's just for a short time, tell them how pleased you are.

Step 3 - Perfecting potty training skills