How to get the first wee in the potty?


It can be tricky to communicate with your toddler what is expected of them in potty training, and how to actually do a wee in the potty. I can imagine there are some inventive ways that people have attempted this, but here are our top 10 tips. Some of these can be started before the nappy is taken away and intensive training begins.

1. Check whether your child is physically ready: Able to sit on toilet/potty for long enough, are they doing a regular soft poo and can their bladder store wee for at least 1.5 hours?

2. Introduce toilet time about twenty minutes after a drink, half an hour after a meal and start to keep track of when they tend to have wet nappies or accidents so that you can start to strategically time when you encourage them to sit on the potty.

3. Encourage them go for a wee when they first wake up in the morning, after daytime naps and last thing before bed.

4. Help them to start making connections: place some folded up kitchen roll in their nappy or put a Dry Like Me Pad in their pants so they learn to associate weeing with being wet.

5. Make sure they are drinking well: giving them 6-8 cups of water based fluid throughout the day will help them to get a good, strong full bladder signal which they will learn to respond to.

6. Talk about wee and poo: read picture books together to give your child an understanding of what is going to be expected of them when their nappy has gone.

7. Make it fun so they are happy and relaxed about sitting on the potty – have a bag of washable toys ready to explore whilst sitting on the potty. Likewise, let them decorate their potty with stickers.

8. Make it comfortable. If they are uncomfortable and don’t relax then it’s harder for them to sit for long enough to so anything. If using the toilet, use a toilet seat adapter and a step stool. Some children have a preference for either the toilet or a potty, so encourage them to try both.

9. Let them watch you, older siblings or their friends as many children learn by imitating what’s going on around them.

10. If your toddler isn’t happy to sit on the potty, or really isn’t understanding what’s expected it can help to start by placing an open nappy on the potty and letting them sit and try to wee on that.

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9 comments on “How to get the first wee in the potty?

  1. Toyah Barton on

    My daughter is 2 and a half and she is showing a lot of signs that she is ready to potty train. Only problem is she will not sit on the potty or on the toilet. We have been trying for the last three months just to try and get her use to it. She sometimes she will sit with her nappy on but try and take it off and she freaks out. Is it because she isn’t ready even if she is showing a lot of the signs? Any help would be must appreciated. Many thanks

    • Di Titterton on

      Hi Toyah, thanks for contacting us. Some children don’t show any signs of readiness but it sounds like your daughter is showing some signs and given her age we would recommend you carry on with training. Not wanting to sit on the potty is common and it may be that your daughter finds the position and sensation of the plastic uncomfortable or even just unfamiliar. We would suggest you try to keep her practising sitting on the potty or toilet. Incentives or rewards may help motivate her to keep trying or you could put her favourite toys or books beside her to distract her while on the potty. Health professionals that we work with also suggest placing an open nappy over the potty as a first stage. This provides a similar sensation to weeing in the nappy while getting her used to sitting on the potty. Good luck, we know it’s a stressful time but try to keep positive and I’m sure she will get there. Di x

      • Toyah Barton on

        Thanks you very much for you help and I will take your advice and see if we can go forward with the potty training

  2. Izzie on

    We’re really struggling with potty training my daughter is 3 1/2 and due to start school nursery in September. She knows when she has done a wee or poo and will wear pants but we cannot get her to go anywhere near sitting on the potty or toilet, therefore has constant accidents or holds it in, nursery are trying to help too but she just gets distressed about sitting on the potty, we talk about it all the time and she completely understands the process but we’ve tried rewards but we’re getting no where!! We’re using pull up training pants at the mo as she was just constantly having accidents in her pants!!
    I’m at a loss at to what to do!!

    • Di Titterton on

      Hi Izzie, it might be an idea to start by placing an open nappy on the potty and getting her to wee in that. It may be that she finds the sensation of the hard plastic strange on her skin. Have you tried a soft toilet seat adapter? Keeping toys and books beside the potty or toilet could distract her, or you could try to encourage her to practise sitting without any pressure to do a wee, just to get her more comfortable with the new routine. Keep practising regularly and for short periods of time, and try not to force her to keep on the seat or potty as it can be difficult to make progress if it becomes a battle of wills. We do get lots of similar questions from parents with older children and part of it may be that because they are older the habit of wearing nappies is more entrenched and so it takes a bit longer to feel comfortable with the new routine. We also have some blogs on this subject that will be sent out during week 3 of the How to Potty Train Academy. If you sign up on the website, these will come to your inbox. Good luck, I know it’s stressful but you still have time to crack it before school starts in September.

  3. Laura on

    My daughter is 2 and a hard she is a twin she will sit on the potty and know when she needs to go but she is holding it in she gets hysterical and starts to cry, she asked for her nappy and went in that. Any advice my firstborn was so easy to potty train she is 3 now so they see her using the toilet.

    • Di Titterton on

      Hi Laura, thanks for your question. This problem is not uncommon in young children who struggle with the concept of using a potty/toilet when they have been used to using a nappy for 2 years! What we do in this situation is to just leave the nappy open on the potty so when your little girl wants to wee you can sit her on the nappy on the potty and hopefully this will give her the confidence to let go and do a wee! Once she is happy to do this parents replace the nappy with toilet paper if necessary otherwise they just ‘forget’ to put the nappy on and sit the child straight onto the potty.

      If she is not ready to sit on the potty with a nappy on just yet then leave her in knickers and when she looks like she wants to wee take her to the bathroom and put a nappy on (the cheapest one you can find) let her do a wee then take off the nappy and leave her again just in knickers – hopefully she will start to relax and go to the bathroom happily each time she needs a wee – once she is in a good routine re this you can then give her a choice – ‘do you want to sit on the potty/toilet with your nappy on or without your nappy?’ She needs to understand that sitting on the potty/toilet she will have to do eventually – but take it at her pace.

      The good news is that she is very aware of needing to wee and she has very good control – so she is virtually there!

  4. Emma Fidock on

    My Daughter is 2 and a half. She will sit on the toilet and the potty and she is happy to do it, the problem is when I take her to them she won’t go! She sits for 2-3 minutes on the toilet then says she wants to get off having not done anything then within minutes she will have an accident. I have tried a number of incentives such as praise, stickers and books but she just won’t do it. Also should I be putting her in a nappy at nap time?

    • Di Titterton on

      Hi Emma, we would recommend that once you take the nappy off in the day, it should stay off even during daytime naps. Try to encourage her to sit on the potty before going for a daytime nap. nappies stay on at night though. In terms of getting the wee in the potty, check that she feels comfortable and relaxed on the potty or toilet. If using the toilet, use a step stool so that her feet are firmly planted. You could try giving her bubbles to play with while on the toilet. This helps relax the muscles and can therefore help her let go of the wee. It is normal for children to take some time to understand how to voluntarily open and close the muscles controlling the bladder and the only way to learn is through trial and error. Keep doing what you are doing with incentives and praise as being positive will make it easier on you all. Thanks Di x


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