Ready to start your toilet training adventure? Get set for ups, downs, wees, poos and, yep, accidents. But, hey, embrace it all and just go with the flow. We’ve pulled together the ultimate guide to the best toilet training methods out there - with expert, tried and tested tips so you and your child can work out what’s best for both of you.
In a hurry? Jump to what you want to know…
When to start toilet training: look for the signs
Universal toilet training guide
Toilet training methods: the lowdown
The Parent-led Method
The Bare Bottom Method
The Child-Led Method
The Scheduled Method
The Motivational Method
The Communication Method
Not sure where to start?
The shift from nappies to the big toilet is exciting. But is there a set toilet training age? In a word, no. And while it’s never too soon to get your kid interested in using the toilet, there are plenty of signs that mean they’re ready to get cracking!
Use this as your toilet training checklist so you don’t rush things, or so you don’t delay if you don’t need to!
Oooooo, look, it’s a loo! Your child may start to show an interest in the toilet. They might start to copy you or brothers/sisters when you head for a wee. They may talk about their friends’ using the toilet, or notice that others are wearing pants, not nappies.
Get set for the toilet trivia. They may start to ask you a LOT of questions about wee, poo, nappies, pants, toilets, potties… Embrace the endless Q&A session!
Telling you they need to go
I need a wee! Your child may start to tell you they need to wee or poo. That could be through words or gestures. They may start to realise when they have a wet or dirty nappy and want it to be changed.
Check that nappy. They should be able to stay dry for at least a couple of hours!
Playing it out
Play time, poo time. Your child may start playing games where they sit their toys on the loo. (And drop them in it – plop!)
Whichever toilet training method you and your kid decide to take, we’ve got some extra tips which you can use here, there and anywhere - keeping them on track and you calm(er).
- Stay positive. Good vibes are so important, so make your bathroom a negative-free zone and be your child’s biggest cheerleader.
- Read the signs. Don’t start toilet training until your child is ready, physically and socially. They need to recognise they need to go before you can even attempt to give it a, well, go! If they’re not there yet, you can still get them interested by doing things like teaching them to wash their hands.
- Don’t get frustrated. As with all parenting, things rarely go smoothly so don’t lose your head. Stay calm and carry on.
- Pick your moment. Knowing when to start toilet training is tough. Avoid starting during periods of change such as moving house or welcoming a new baby to the family.
- Consistency is key. Practice makes perfect! Follow the same routine to make it easier for your child to pick it up.
- Kids love a reward! Whether it’s a toilet training sticker chart, their favourite snack or a little toy, treats are your friend when toilet training.
- Give it a go. Ask your child to ‘try’ even if they don’t think they want to go. They may be surprised…
- Dress for success. Wearing the right clothes is always a good shout when toilet training. We’re talking elasticated waisted shorts, jogging bottoms or short dresses. Buttons are not your friend!
- Older siblings in the house? Your kid may decide to take their lead from big bro or sis, so get them involved too.
Newsflash: there’s no single ‘best’ toilet training method. It’s about finding the right one for both of you. Our advice? Try a few and see what suits. Ditch any that you don’t like and stick with the one that does!
A gradual method of potty training where you take the lead. Think lots of celebrations and you both taking your time. Charts and stickers are gold when it comes to extra motivation.
Trying it out
- Start by letting them watch you when you use the toilet.
- Go shopping and let them choose their own potty or training seat.
- Set aside time each day for your kid to sit on the potty.
- Encourage them to wee or poo while seated. Celebrate and reward them when they do.
- Once you’ve built up potty time, move onto the toilet with a training seat and step stool.
Bums out! This method lets your child spend some allocated time each day with that peachy bum free – it’s a no-nappy zone.
Trying it out
- Keep an eye on your kid for signs they need to go (like squirming or holding themselves), then encourage them to sit on the potty.
- Reward your child with cheers and positivity when they successfully wee or poo while seated.
- As they’ll be bare bummed, don’t punish or shame them when accidents happen.
- Gradually increase the time they have their nappy off then eventually swap to underwear or training pants full time.
- Be prepared: this may not be the best approach for all kids.
Strong-willed kid? This could be the method for you. Let your child take the lead in deciding when and how to use the potty. They set the pace, not you!
Trying it out
- Wait until your child shows signs of being interested in potty training. They could ask questions and start to show interest in the toilet.
- Encourage and support them, but don’t pressure them to use the potty or toilet. It’s all down to them.
- Celebrate their victories when they use the toilet or potty, but always avoid any shame when (and we don’t mean if) accidents happen.
- This method can take longer, but it can be very effective in the long run.
Set regular times where you take your child to the potty or toilet, even if they don’t need to go. Over time they’ll recognise their body signals and head to the bathroom themselves. Like magic, just with toilets!
Trying it out
- Take your child to the potty or toilet at regular intervals throughout the day. It’ll be lots of trips – every 30 minutes to an hour.
- Encourage them to sit for a few minutes each time, even if they don’t need to go.
- Cheer, whoop and keep it positive when they do a poo or wee while seated.
- Gradually increase the time between potty trips as they get into the swing of things.
Just like it says on the tin, this is all about motivation and keeping kids interested with rewards like small toys and stickers.
Trying it out
- Be consistent with your rewards and tell your child why they’re getting them.
- Get them to try using the potty or toilet, even if they don’t feel like the need to go. The thought of a treat should do the trick!
- The more they conquer the bathroom, the fewer rewards you’ll need to give them.
- The end result? They’ll be going to the toilet all on their own. And suddenly your stickers are ‘not cool’.
Choose a word or phrase both you and your kid like and use it to signal that it’s time to use the potty or toilet. Get ready… FREE THE BUM!
Trying it out
- Phrase sorted? Use it EVERY time you take your child to the potty or toilet.
- Encourage them to try to wee or poo whenever they hear their special phrase. And we mean whenever.
- Why not create another fun phrase that praises them when they successfully go?
- Over time, your child will learn to recognise the phrase and head to the toilet on their own.
Ready, set, wee!
Let the adventure begin! Find the toilet training method that works for you (or pick and mix, we’re not fussy). Just keep the praise high, your stress levels low and expect a few hiccups along the way.
Take our quiz to help you find the right toilet training style. There’s no need for all the choices to drive you potty!