When to start potty training will depend on the individual child. Every child is different; they learn to walk and talk at different times and they learn how to use the toilet at different times too. However, most children are ready to be potty trained between 18 months and 3 years old.

You know your child better than anyone else so don’t feel you have to start potty training just because other people think you should.

It has to be the right time for toilet training to start; when you can devote lots of time and effort to it. If you’re moving house or there’s a new baby on the way, it’s probably not the best time to start teaching your child to use the potty.

How do I know if my child is ready to potty train?

Your child needs to be physically ready, so they’ll need to be able to sit themselves on the potty and be able to stand up when they’ve finished.

If your child can follow instructions and let you know what they want or need, that could also be a sign of readiness.

It helps to keep track of your child’s wee and poo habits and get an idea of how many times a day they go for a wee and poo. If they can stay dry for an hour or two, they are ready for potty training as their bladder is storing more wee and developing control.

It can be hard to tell if a child is wet as disposable nappies are so good at soaking up wee and keeping it off the skin. A good tip is to put some folded kitchen paper into the nappy which will stay wet when they do a wee. As well as letting you know when they’ve done a wee, it may also help your child connect the feeling of being wet with weeing.

If your child starts to notice when they’ve done a wee or a poo it means they are starting to learn the signals their body is giving them – a great time to get ready for potty training.

How do I get my child ready for potty training?

It helps if you can:

  1. Get your child involved with changing their nappies. Change them standing up, get them to help with their clothing and wash your hands together when you've finished.

  2. Talk about wee and poo. Tell them if their nappy is wet or dry when you change them and talk about the wee or poo inside.

  3. Keep the nappies in the toilet and change your child in there so they associate wees and poos with that room.

  4. Plan a reward system like a sticker chart or lucky dip bag. Reward every little step towards potty training like getting dressed or washing their hands.

  5. Read picture books about potty training together. There are some available in the ERIC shop.

  6. Show that you do wees and poos too! Leave the toilet door open and ask family members to do the same. Young children learn by watching and copying.

  7. Talk to your health visitor or children's centre for potty training advice. You can also talk to the ERIC helpline or download ERIC’s Guide to Potty Training.