My child won’t poo on the toilet or potty!


Toilet Training Refusal, Refusing To Poo

When it comes to potty training, they may have mastered number ones, but some children either just don’t like to poo.  Some even point blank refuse to poo on the potty or loo.

So it makes sense that one question we are asked a lot is how to handle it when a child won’t poo on the toilet.

This is a very common problem with toddlers.  We don’t really know why and think there could be a number of reasons.  Fear of the toilet hole or potty basin. It taking too long and inconveniencing their play.  Not wanting to say goodbye to being a baby yet.  Even health concerns such as constipation.

We recommend checking with your health visitor that there are no problems.  Nine times out of ten it is just that the child doesn’t want to poo on the toilet.

The cheeky little monkeys!


‘Poo Nappy’

A tried and tested technique that we advocate trying if you are having trouble.  To encourage your child to poo on the toilet or potty you should allow a ‘poo nappy’.

The idea behind this approach is that you offer ‘poo nappies’ which are left in the bathroom. This is the only place that the child can use them.  Not reverting back to wearing a nappy to do it whenever and whatever they are doing.

The child is told that when he or she wants to do a poo they can have their ‘poo nappy’ on.  Put the nappy on in the bathroom or toilet and ask the child to stay there until they have done their poo. Once they have finished, take the nappy off and put the poo in the toilet. With the help of the child flush it way so that they are fully involved in the process.  Then do the usual hand washing.

Make sure that the nappy is put on and taken off with the child standing.  That way they can help with pulling pants up and down and also start to learn about wiping bottoms, etc.

If the idea of a poo nappy isn’t appealing to your child, you can also make it a bit more exciting by telling them that the ‘poo fairy’ has left them to use.

Encourage them to buy into this idea.  You could make it to the child’s advantage by saying things like the poo fairy has left some special stickers.  Every time he or she does a poo in the nappy in the bathroom they are allowed one of the stickers.

Start Moving the Goal Posts

Once he or she is happily following this routine, start to move the goal posts.  Say that the poo fairy said they can still have a nappy on but must also now sit on the toilet or potty . Once they are doing this you just need to work on removing the nappy completely.

Some parents progress by just putting the nappy on the potty or toilet and sitting the child on it.  Then, one day they just ‘forget’ to put the nappy there and sit the child straight on the potty or toilet. Other parents cut a bigger and bigger hole in the nappy so that over time, the child doesn’t see the need for it anymore.

This technique is also recommended by child continence experts and Promocon.  They have a leaflet you can read here for more information.

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18 comments on “My child won’t poo on the toilet or potty!

  1. Marie kerr on

    MY son is 4y and starts school in 2weeks and he will just poo in the toilet he goes in his PANTS AND DRIVING ME NUTS he has bein peeing in the toilet since he was 3 gets up to the toilet during the night to pee use any toilet so hes NOT scared of the toilet he just keeps saying he can’t. Bein to doc and nothing is happening plz help dont know what to do 😭

    • Di Titterton on

      Hi Marie, that is very frustrating. The first thing to check for is constipation as that can cause little bits of poo to leak out, very often without the child being able to control this. Your doctor should be able to help with this, or your Health Visitor. Alternatively, speak to the school nurse. When starting school, it might be helpful to use Dry Like Me pads. These disposable pads help capture the mess and protect his pants. Good luck x

    • Karen Trott on

      I have try this and many more options, but she does not want to do poo in the potty or the toilet. Please help.

  2. Megan on

    My daughter is almost three and has been using the toilet / potty since early summer and is dry during the day, we put a nappy on her at night as she isn’t dry yet.. We are having a major major issue with poo! She poops in her pants daily. Now I know at nursery she can distracted and is still learning but when at home she won’t even mention it and will just poo-I swear she’s a poo ninja, her facial expressions don’t even change… Occasionally she will poo on the loo if she’s sat for a while and I give her beads to sort but this is few and far between. I suggested the poo nappy but she had a meltdown over it 😢. Heeelp! Do we just keep going and hope it clicks soon? 😞

    • Di Titterton on

      Hi Megan, you are right to keep the nappy on at night until you see a pattern of dry nappies in the morning. It sounds like you are 90% potty trained therefore I wouldn’t recommend going back into nappies as that would be a backward step. Letting your daughter play with beads is great as it’s important to keep relaxed and on the toilet for long enough to do a poo. Try letting her play with bubbles as the blowing helps relax the muscles. It may be that she is not getting the sensation that she needs a poo, therefore it’s good to try to encourage her to listen to her body’s signs that she needs a poo. Get her involved in the clean up, talk her through the routine and get her to help you flush any poo down the loo. Make sure she is comfortable on the toilet or potty, if she’s using the toilet make sure she has a step stool and feels safe and in the right position. Dry Like Me pads help with the mess (you can buy these from our shop or in ASDA or Morrisons).

  3. Laura on

    My LG is really good at weeing on the potty and was pooing as well, we went 5 days without a single accident (still in nappy at night). However she had a wee accident and seemed to have regressed, we are now back to weeing with no issues but the last 2 weeks she has pooed in her knickers everyday and we have tried everything. She won’t tell us anymore she needs/has done a poo, and doesn’t look like she’s pooing. We are sitting her on the potty regularly but still going in knickers.

    • Di Titterton on

      Hi Laura, the first thing to check is that she isn’t constipated. Here’s the link to a blog on how to spot the signs of constipation. Sometimes frequent small poos in the pants are a sign of constipation and this can also cause more wee accidents as it’s harder to fully empty the bladder if the bowel is full. While you check out if she has constipation, try to stay positive and keep reinforcing the routine. When she has an accident get her involved in the clean up and tip the poo down the loo and keep telling her this is where it goes. Keep a track of accidents to see if there is any pattern and to try to get her sitting on the toilet at the right time. Make sure she is comfortable sitting on the potty and maybe try the toilet with an adapter seat and step stool that she can plant her feet firmly onto. She may be able to get into a better position to poo on the toilet. We also have a blog on the best seeing position for doing poos. You could also use Dry Like Me pads in her pants to help capture the poo accidents and protect her pants and clothes. These were originally invented for this purpose. You can buy these from our shop.Hope this helps, problems with poo are really common in potty training children. Di x

  4. Kayleigh Luff on

    My daughter is doing brilliantly with her wee and tells us all the time she needs to go and has been dry at night for almost 2 weeks, she started pooping on the toilet which we thought was fantastic and then all of a sudden she stopped, this has now changed though and she will tell us she needs a poo, sits on the toilet then says no, we keep her relaxed and distracted by talking, playing but she just wants to get off then 10 minutes later without telling us poo in he knickers and then say mummy, poo knickers
    I’m not sure why she now wont go on the toilet as cannot seem to find a reason that has put her off but I now have her get involved but we are still not getting the poo in time as she just doesn’t want to sit there and get it out, not sure what to do? HELP!!

    • Di on

      Hi Kayleigh, the first thing to check is that she isn’t constipated. the fact that she is dry at night suggests that she is very advanced in terms of potty training so the daytime issues could be medical. We would advise you to speak to your GP about this. If she is constipated, getting medical advice is important and can reduce the likelihood of any long term issues or a backward step in potty training. Good luck.

  5. Linda Machin on

    Hi my little boy is three and is weeing on a potty and a toilet at nursery he won’t poo on either he lies on floor in the corner and wees n poos I have tried everything and still he won’t go he won’t go for wee or poo when we are out he hangs on or we have to cut our outings out short he has got my carpets smelling I don’t know what to do to get him on loo he knows when he is pooing and is not constapated help

  6. Jenny on

    My son is nearly 4. He will hold on all day and do a poo in his pull ups in the night (normally the early hours). He will sit on the toilet anywhere without problems to do a wee, but hates to try for a poo and it is a real struggle to get him to sit on a toilet for longer than a minute or so. I don’t want to push him too hard or he’ll start to hate it even more.

  7. Sarah on

    We are just over 2 weeks into potty trining my little boy (nearly 3) and he’s done great with the wees and has had very few accidents over the last week.
    But no luck with poos. He’s done a couple on the potty and is so pleased with himself. He’s not frightened of the potty, it’s like he doesn’t realise he needs one till it’s too late.
    He’s definitely not constipated as going most days and healthy looking.
    There’s no pattern to when he goes either!!
    How do I help him recognise the signs that he needs to go?

  8. Lou on

    My little boy has been doing great the last 2 weeks potty training – mastered the wee but for the last 3 days just refuses to have a poo – like he just wont do it, he will run to the potty and say he needs a poo, but then gets up after seconds- could this be to do with his potty training or constipation – its been 48 hours since his last poo now. i have been giving him plenty of fibre foods and making sure he is drinking plenty. Please help 🙂


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