How to start potty training


There is a wealth of information online about potty training.  Google will deliver 55 million results for Potty training from ‘how to start potty training boys and girls’, to ‘how to potty train in three days’. On top of this there are plenty of people around us willing to share their potty training advice.  The only issue is that very often all this advice is vague and conflicting and speak to any parent of multiple children and they will tell you that their potty training experiences were completely different with each child.


Where do you start?


One thing for sure is that very few of us have the time or inclination to read even 1% of the 55 million Google pages on potty training.  This is why we have developed the How to Potty Train website.  We have done the leg work and collated as much information from a range of trusted sources to help you work out quickly and easily what you need to know.


So, got 5 minutes?  Want to hear the high level guide to how to potty train?  Read on for this and links to where to find more information on the things that you want to explore further:


Being potty trained isn’t just about getting the wee and poo in the potty, it’s about the process of independently managing the whole toileting process from recognising the signs that you need to go, to managing clothes and yourself hygienically.


Some websites claim to enable potty training in 3 days.  If you are lucky and hit potty training at the right time you may be able to master the art of getting wees and poos in the potty by the end of three days, but that is not being fully toilet trained.  There are no shortcuts, this takes time and practise.


By the time children come to potty train, they are very much in the habit of using a nappy.  They don’t know anything else, and like any other habit, it can be difficult to break it.  Switching between nappies and pants can be confusing and makes it harder to create new habits and routine, so our number one golden rule is that when you decide to take the nappy off in the daytime, it does not go back on.


It is common for children to have lots of accidents but this does not necessarily mean they are not ready.  Accidents are a sign that your child is learning through trial and error and it is common to see bigger accidents after you think you have cracked potty training.  This is often when the child is learning to hold on for longer, or is learning to manage bladder control after the focus is taken off potty training and back on much more interesting subjects like playing or watching TV.



We have broken potty training down into four main stages, and this first stage can begin before the nappy is taken off.


1.Getting ready

This is all about getting ready for potty training, establishing a good routine from finding the bathroom and managing clothes to washing hands.   This can start before intensive training begins and talking through the routine is a great way to introduce potty training to your toddler.  Let them watch you in the bathroom, and encourage them to practise sitting on the potty, with or without a nappy on. A good potty training routine


2.Signs of readiness

If your child is around the age of two, they are probably ready or nearly ready to start potty training.  There are however other signs that you can look for to see if your toddler is ready to start.  Catching the right time to train can make the whole process quicker and can reduce the number of accidents you need to deal with.  If you miss the window, it can take longer and become more difficult to motivate the child to want to potty train as the habit becomes more entrenched, and often the toddler becomes more savvy about how to protest.  See some of the classic signs of readiness here.


3.Going for it

This is when the nappy comes off and intensive training begins.  The nappy should stay off in the day, but night time nappies are fine to continue with.  Find out why this is important –Make the leap into pants

During this time the focus is very much on potty training and parents often do this at a time when they can spend a few days at home.  Accidents are common during this phase, while children learn how to recognise the signs and understand the new routine. It can be tricky to get those first wees and poos in the potty.


4.Keeping it going

Once you have mastered keeping dry at home the next step is about potty training when out and about.  Set backs are common and it can be tricky to continue to make progress after the focus is taken off intensive training. Going back to nursery where there are different rules and lots of distractions can result in more accidents.  See our blog, Asking your nursery to follow your potty training routine


5.Night time

This is the final stage of potty training that is usually tackled after the child is completely dry in the day.  Night time dryness is different to daytime training in that it is largely dependent on the maturity of the bladder and is more difficult to teach unless the child is physically ready. Bedwetting is common in children, and 20% of 5 year olds still wet the bed.  See our blog on What age is normal for night time dryness?

Like daytime training, routine is important and there are some signs that indicate it is the right time to start.  Look out for a pattern of dry, damp or warm nappies in the morning.  For more signs of readiness and tips on putting in place a good routine ERIC’s top 10 tips for night time dryness



Our website has more information and articles on all of the stages, as well as a free potty training academy designed to help you through each stage by sending you all the information and some helpful resources to your inbox each week.  Sign up here





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