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Potty training - How to get your little one out of nappies

Updated: Jan 4

Are you going potty about potty training?

Read on for my tips on getting your little one out of nappies.

Being ready

Signs to look out for are:

  • Having a dry nappy for long periods of time

  • Your child telling you that they have done a wee or poo or that they need to do one.

  • Often a child will go off to a quiet spot for a poo and may pull at their nappy if they have had a wee.

It is worth noting that there is no 'optimum' age for when a child is ready, but usually they will be ready anywhere from 18 months - 3 years, so don't worry if your two-year-old isn't showing signs yet.

How to start

Before you begin, make sure that your child is used to seeing you or their siblings on the toilet and that it is a normal part of life. Get them to help flush the toilet and you could perhaps keep a potty in the bathroom to make it all very normal.

Books are a great tool to help teach our children about all kinds of things and using the potty or toilet is no different, so make sure that you have some books to read at bedtime.

Once you have established that your child is ready then begin. Take them to choose some underwear and without making a big fuss, explain that they are ready to start using the potty or toilet.

If your child is definitely ready then I don't see the point of keeping them in a nappy, other than for sleep. Putting them straight into knickers/pants from the beginning keeps it simple with no mixed messages and will encourage them not to 'hold on'. Of course, there maybe a few accidents to begin with but if they are ready, they are ready and it really shouldn't take long to crack it.

Being emotionally ready

Being emotionally ready usually comes last so the more you push the more they will resist - what toddlers like to do best. Trying to get your child to use the potty before they are ready can cause them to 'hold on' which can cause a UTI and constipation.

Making your child aware of the potty and talking about what to do and what happens in a fuss free way and normalising it is key and if you see learning to use the potty a bit like learning to crawl or walk, they will get there when they are ready.

Potty or toilet?

It doesn't really matter if your child learns on the potty or toilet but if you use the potty, just remember that when you are out and about or in other peoples houses there won't always be a potty to use so, once you feel like your child has cracked using it, encourage them to use the toilet. They will need a seat to begin with but will soon grasp how to balance and wee.

You might find that if your child has siblings they want to go straight to using the toilet which is absolutely fine, follow your child's lead.

Poo withholding

Poo withholding is not unusual but needs addressing to avoid constipation.

Helping your child feel secure poo'ing can be part of the build up to starting potty training, so be sure to mention wee's and poo's and try to refrain from making a negative association with poo. So, for instance, referring to poo as 'really yukky' and making a big deal out of it.

Make sure your child has enough water and fibre in their diet to ensure a smooth passing and perhaps offer your child some privacy while they poo as they perhaps do not fancy an audience.

You can offer your child a nappy to poo in if it makes them feel more secure, and then gradually work towards using the potty/toilet.


The main cause for children to regress is because of change in their life, house move, new sibling, starting nursery for instance or if they have been ill, particularly if they have had a UTI or severe constipation.

Make sure that your child's emotional bucket is kept topped up so that they feel safe and secure and do not revert back to nappies. It is very much a 'treating the cause not the symptoms' scenario.

Using a reward chart might also work to bring them back round to idea of using the toilet rather than their underwear.

Being dry at night

It is not unusual for a child to be dry during the day but not at night until they are between 6 and 8 years old.

If your child is having leaky nappies then I would recommend reducing how much they have to drink in the hour before bed, particularly milk, and making sure they have been to the toilet beforehand.

If your child gets to age 7/8 and not dry at night, get in touch with your GP or head over to the Eric website which is a fantastic place for help and advice. Click here

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