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You're ready to stop using nappies once and for all! Find out how to manage accidents, outings and naptimes plus how to motivate and reward your child.

Stopping using nappies

Whatever stage your child is on their potty learning journey, stopping using nappies is a big change for them. When you are ready, tell your child it is time to stop using nappies.  You may like to help your child to say goodbye to their nappies and explain that from now on, they will do all their wee and poo in the potty or toilet.

Make sure it’s a good time for you as well as your child. It’s best to avoid doing it at a time when there are any big changes or disruptions to your child’s or family’s routine. 

 Try to:

  • Stay at home for a few days, so you can do some one-to-one learning
  • Tell all your child’s caregivers what you are doing so that they can support potty training in the same way as you
  • Avoid using pull-ups or going back to nappies as an alternative if possible.
  • Check that they are passing some soft poo every day and there’s no underlying constipation. If you think your child might be constipated, it's best to sort this out before you stop using nappies or pull-ups
  • Make sure your child is drinking enough during the day. Aim for 6-8 drinks a day. Water is the best drink but milk in moderation and well-diluted squash is OK too.
  • Dress your child in clothes that are easy for them to get on and off, so they can take the lead with using the potty. Some children learn best when they can be at home and naked from the waist down. Other children learn best when they are wearing loose-fitting trousers without pants.

Signs your child may need to wee or poo:

  • They may tell you
  • They may fidget, go quiet or hide
  • They may crouch down and start to strain (for a poo)

If you see any of these signs or you know your child needs to do a wee or poo, gently direct them to use the potty. This will mean there is more chance of success and your child will start to understand what is expected whilst they are still learning how to respond to their body’s wee and poo signals.

If you need to go out, e.g. in a car, you may want to use a washable car seat protector or dress your child in cloth training pants rather than a nappy or pull-up. 

Nap times

Once your child has stopped using nappies or pull-ups in the daytime, it’s best to stop using them at nap time as well.  Teaching your child to sleep without a nappy or pull-up on at naptime and use the potty when they wake up, will help prepare them for being dry at night.

Just before nap time, help your child use the potty or toilet, so they are more likely to stay dry.  Accidents are common during the first few months, so you may want to use a waterproof sheet or similar underneath your child, to protect the sleep area.

Using praise and rewards to motivate your child 

Research shows that rewards such as sweets or sticker charts may help your child initially, but they can stop working quickly. For most children, encouraging and supporting them to be as independent as possible is the best way to motivate them. Give your child encouragement for their effort and not just the end result, to engage them in the learning process.

Give your child the opportunity to do things for themselves as far as possible. This will help them to feel in control and positive and relaxed about the process. Your child may also like to have some favourite toys, books or songs to help them.

IMPORTANT:

Try to avoid prompting or asking your child too often. Instead, wait until you think they need to go and then direct them gently, e.g. “it’s toilet time” or “let’s get that wee/poo in the potty!”.

Be clear, confident and consistent.

Managing accidents

It is normal to have lots of accidents at the beginning and they are part of the learning process. This is a big step for your child, so be patient and encourage them. If your child has an accident, clean it up together and remind them to use the potty next time. Do not shame or punish your child about accidents, as stress and upset can make it harder for you and your child to learn together.

If your child has an accident, it’s important not to pretend it hasn’t happened. Help them get clean and dry as soon as possible and involve your child in this process. Gently explain that you want them to use the potty next time.

Potty training problems