Another subject I get asked about a lot is toilet training, what is the right age? How do you know when they’re ready? And generally how to go about it. As with most aspects of childcare the correct age to begin training depends on the child and the family circumstances and most of all… are you ready for toilet training as it takes time and commitment and isn’t just a phase. It’s an ongoing process and you have to take into account the daily routine and also nursery/daycare, travelling in the car etc. Toilet training should NOT be attempted within 2 months of any major upheaval in the child’s life like a new sibling, moving house, starting daycare.

Some people think that the children should decide themselves when to leave the nappies behind but I think most of them need some encouragement to move to this new part of their lives.

Signs that a child is ready for toilet training

  • They are over 18mths old
  • Can follow simple instructions
  • Has dry spells of a couple of hours
  • Has dry nappies when they wake from a long nap
  • Can pull their own pants up/down with non or very little help
  • Shows an interest in what you’re doing when you go to the loo
  • Shows discomfort when they’ve done a wee/poop
  • Actually have words for wee/poop
  • Has the ability to sit still for 5-10mins with a book or toy

In my experience to really make the child understand the changes that are going to happen you need a lot of preparation, so lots of story books about it, encouraging them to come to the loo with you, explaining what they will be doing on the loo and let them go on the loo when you take their nappy off in the morning and evening, tell them they’re going to start wearing ‘big girl/boy’ pants and let them choose them own pants…  even if you don’t like them!

I personally wouldn’t use a potty, I go straight to using the loo because if they get comfortable using the potty you have to almost train from them again to go on the toilet. Obviously if you don’t have a toilet nearby i.e it’s on a different floor then use a potty until they get the hang of it and can hold the wee until they get to the toilet.

Another thing to do is to clear your diary and choose a date to start the training. This way you can start a countdown with your child and say ‘3 more days to wearing big boy pants’ etc so they know that change is coming.

The main thing to do when potty training is to remain calm and expect that accidents ARE going to happen, even when you think they are on the path to becoming more independent, illness or a change in environment can put things back a step or two. If you do start it and after a week think your child hasn’t made any progress then it’s fine to put if off and start again in another couple of months.

Just remember they won’t be wearing nappies when they’re 7 so just relax and take it at a step at a time.

A star chart can be very useful when toilet training… and if I’m honest I am a fan of the bribery technique and keeping a bowl of treats (yogurt covered raisins etc) in the loo is usually incentive enough to get them weeing in the right place, you can also get stick-on targets to put in the toilet bowl… you may find the bigger boys in the house will use this too!