Two babies sitting in basins while brushing their teeth

Toilet training regression: What to do when you're feeling stuck

by Andrex Experts

You were on the home run, winning at toilet training. Until your kid decided to throw in a plot twist… Perhaps refusing to play ball. Maybe you’ve gone from zero accidents to too many to count. Don’t worry. Setbacks happen. We’re here to help you find out why, what you can do to help your child with toilet training regression, and the tricks to get you both back on track.


In a hurry? Jump to what you want to know…


What is toilet training regression?
Why do kids have toilet training setbacks?
How can I help with my kid’s toilet training regression?
Should we switch toilet training methods if we’re having problems?
Help! My toddler will wee but not poo in the toilet!
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What is toilet training regression?


Setbacks happen when a child who has been successfully toilet trained for a few months then starts to wet themselves and have accidents. They may tell you they want to go back to nappies. They may suddenly have no desire to wee and poo in the loo. And you may well be losing the will to live…


Why do kids have toilet training setbacks?


Toilet training regression could be due to many things. We’ve mapped out the main triggers for setbacks, from life changes to medical issues, so you can see if any ring true…


Life changes


It doesn’t have to be a sad event causing these setbacks. Any changes to their routine could mean they need time to adjust.


  • A change in their childcare routine
  • Classroom or seat change at school
  • Pregnancy or a new baby
  • A major illness/death in the family
  • Marital conflict or a divorce
  • Moving to a new home


Medical condition If you think that a medical condition is causing your kid to have setbacks, it’s best to talk to your doctor for more advice.


  • Painful poos or constipation
  • Bladder infection
  • Other medical problems, like type 1 diabetes


Toddler sitting on a toilet


How can I help with my kid’s toilet training regression?


First up: setbacks happen and it can be frustrating, but don’t let it bother you. It doesn’t mean your toilet training method is failing, and you CAN help your child! Here’s a few tips you can try.


1. Take a deep breath and stay calm.


The key thing is staying patient and being understanding, so find your inner zen.


2. Don’t punish your child.


It’s really not their fault and praising your kid when they do well will help their self-esteem so much more instead.


3. Review the basics of your potty training.


Are you taking trips to the toilet regularly enough, and at the right time to suit your child? Are you helping them wipe properly and washing hands?


4. Play detective.


Try to identify any triggers that may be causing your child to have accidents: a change in routine, stress or illness. That way, you can work to address it so you both feel more comfortable. And remember, if you’re worried, see your doctor.


5. Stay positive and consistent.


Sympathise and be kind, even if your kid has accidents. It’s all part of the fun (and by fun, we mean craziness).


Should we switch toilet training methods if we’re having problems?


You need to be following a toilet training method that works for you, your kid and your family. Not only practically in terms of your lifestyle and schedule, but in terms of your kid’s personality. There are so many toilet training methods out there and what works for one child may not work for yours.


Ideally, you should try and stick to the approach you started with - consistency is the key to nailing toilet training. But if it’s really not working out for you, take a break for a few weeks then try again later with another method. That loo’s not going anywhere!


Or you could try reviewing and tweaking your process. There are some common potty training approaches you could introduce that could do the trick:


  • Younger kids respond well to rewards (yep, good ol’ bribery). So try a sticker reward chart to mark out when they boss that toilet.
  • Try asking your child to try for a wee, even if they don’t think they want to go (ideal for those stubborn kids out there…)
  • Switch up their wardrobe. Choose elasticated waistbands, jogging bottoms or short dress for easy access on the loo.
  • If you’ve older kids in the house, get them involved. Every kid likes to feel like they're grown-up…


Toddler sitting on a toilet drawing on her leg


Help! My toddler will wee but not poo in the toilet!


Ah, now this one’s a classic. Plenty of parents go through this, so don’t feel you’re on your own. Here’s a few tips to try if your child will wee but not poo in the toilet:


  • Distract them. Whether that’s a book, tablet or TV, anything to take their mind off what they need to do could help.
  • Know their schedule. If your child always has a poo mid-morning, then that’s the time to get them seated on their potty or the loo.
  • Try a foot stool. Your kid may need their feet firmly on something to help them push while they poo. If their legs are swinging freely, it could be stopping them going.


Download the free GoTime app!


Want your kid to feel excited about toilet training?


Our app has a cast of cuddly characters who are on their own toilet training adventure! Their story becomes your story, as you and your kid learn alongside them!