Learning to use the toilet is such a huge step for a young child. Child care, Educators make it look so easy, but when children get home, it may not always go as smoothly. To help you get your child to the potty, we’ve put together several toilet training tips from the experts.

Parents have a lot of questions about toilet training. It can often be a learning aspect that’s approached with trepidation. How do you know when your child is ready to start? Do you begin potty training first or use a child’s toilet seat?

Toilet training is a significant milestone in your child’s development and an essential part of their self-help skills. It is when they begin to recognise the feeling of needing to go and  also how to hold on. Good toilet routines are crucial. Our toilet training tips also cover:

  • How long does toilet training take?
  • How child care supports toilet training.
  • The importance of toilet routines.
  • Toilet training steps and practical advice.
  • Why night-time toilet training can be challenging.

Toilet training tip: Child practises sitting on a potty for potty training

Start toilet training when your child is interested

Every child is different, but often children begin to show an interest in toilet training when they’re toddlers, around 1.5 to 3 years of age. Daytime training can be easier than night-time toilet training. One of the keys to success is maintaining good toilet routines.

Let your child lead the toilet training process. Being too assertive and eager for them to start or to get it right can create unwanted anxiety. Avoid stress and be patient by letting your child’s behaviour be the trigger to when toilet training begins.

Here are a few toilet training tips for when your child might be ready. They might:

  • Tell you when they’ve done a pee or poop.
  • Ask you to change their soiled nappy.
  • Show an interest in others going to the toilet.
  • Pull their nappies up and down by themselves.
  • Sleep through the night and remain dry.
  • Poop at regular intervals.
  • Have nappies that remain dry consistently for a few hours at a time.
  • Be able to follow easy instructions.

Partner with your child care to start toilet training.

Let your child choose potty training, toilet or both

You may remember aspects of being potty or toilet trained as a child. This may influence how you want to teach your child. However, it’s important to recognise that no two children are alike. You may have one child that takes to toilet training overnight and another who needs more time.

Give your child the choice of potty, toilet training or both. Take them shopping and let them choose their potty or toilet seat. Maybe they’ll get both to see which one feels more comfortable. You may also need to purchase a step so they can easily reach the toilet.

If your child chooses the toilet over the potty, don’t throw the potty out just yet. Keep it for camping or put it in your car for travel emergencies.

Don’t worry about how long toilet training is taking or compare your child to others. Some children pick up toilet training quickly, while others it’s a gradual process. Every child is different.

Sometimes a child may be comfortable going to the toilet to do pees but not poops. Or they might prefer going during the day but not be so comfortable going at night. They may also be so involved in what they are doing that they hold off going straight away.

And it’s not unusual for a child to begin using the toilet and then stop. Perhaps they weren’t ready to start, or there could be something else that’s hindering them. Talk to your child about their toilet habits and be patient and understanding.

Child's toilet training no longer in their thoughts when children play.

Talk to your child care centre Educators about your child’s toilet training

If your child is attending an early education and care centre, talk to your child’s Educator about your child’s toilet training. A child’s toilet training is a learning experience that prospers when Educators and families work in partnership.

Tell them if you feel your child is ready to start and how the process might begin. Or, if you’re not sure, ask for their advice. Child care Educators can work with you to support your child’s toilet routines so that your child receives the same positive support at child care as they do home.

At Petit Early Learning Journey we can:

  • Use the same language to encourage toilet training habits.
  • Start encouraging toilet training at the same time as our families.
  • Match toilet routines with those used at home.
  • Organise a visit to the toilet as part of your child’s pick-up routine.

Parent and Educator discuss child's toilet routines.

Encourage consistent toilet routines

Accidents happen. Be prepared for accidents at any time, anywhere. Pack spare clothes, a couple of towels and baby wipes for cleaning up spills. Your child may also need lots of support, hugs, understanding and patience during their toilet training.

Toilet routines can help to limit accidents. Routines are repeated practices that assist children in coping with change. By partnering with your Educator, they can continue to support your home routines at child care, including washing hands after every visit to the toilet.

While your child should be able to sense the need to go to the bathroom, toilet routines could include going to the toilet or potty:

  • When a child first wakes up.
  • Before leaving the house.
  • Before long road trips.
  • Before and after nap times.
  • Before mealtimes.
  • Right before bed.
  • Before leaving daycare.

You should also limit liquids 1 – 2 hours before bedtime to reduce the chance of night-time accidents. However, if your child is thirsty, it’s okay to give them a small amount of water.

Child learns to wash hands as part of their toilet training steps.

Toilet training steps and other practical tips

These toilet training tips and steps are in no particular order. Every family is diverse and every child will respond differently:

  1. Let toilet training be a child-led experience. Don’t force toilet training on your child if they’re not ready emotionally or physically.
  2. Take your child shopping to choose a potty or a toilet seat. They may feel more comfortable with both at the start.
  3. Talk to your child care centre’s Educator about how they can support and partner with you for toilet training.
  4. Use words like pee, poop, potty or toilet around your child to make communication easier.
  5. Establish good toilet routines.
  6. Become a toilet training role model (let them watch you go), so your child understands what to do.
  7. Ensure your child’s diet has the recommended amount of fibre and fluids. Not enough can sometimes cause constipation.
  8. Become familiar with your child’s inner clock for pees and poops. This will help you encourage them to use the toilet or potty when it’s about time.
  9. Be aware of the facial or body expressions (cues) that your child makes when they need to go.
  10. Stop using nappies except for night-time and naps and eventually, when they’re more confident, lose those too.
  11. Purchase a couple of sheet protectors for the bed.
  12. Take your child shopping for underwear and let them choose their favourites.
  13. Give plenty of praise, even if they don’t quite get it right or they’re taking a while to learn.
  14. Wipe their bottoms from front to back until they’re confident to do it on their own.

Toilet training tips include encouraging children to have high fibre diets with plenty of fluids.

Be patient with night-time toilet training

Night-time toilet training can be more difficult than toilet training during the day. So, if you’re wondering how your child care makes it look so easy, you have the more difficult task.  Here are a few of our night-time toilet training tips:

  1. Keep using nappies at night (and for naps) when toilet training begins. Stop using nappies when your child feels more confident (usually after consecutive nights without any bedwetting).
  2. Understand that accidents will happen and be prepared. Use a bed protector sheet and have a spare one with clean sheets ready, just in case.
  3. Oversee your child’s bedtime routines to ensure they’re going to the toilet right before they go to bed.
  4. Restrict fluids 1-2 hours before bed.
  5. Sometimes, children don’t always empty their bladder completely. If night-time bedwetting is a problem, encourage your child to relax when using the toilet to see if there’s any more to let go.

Finally, when starting toilet or potty training, it’s a good idea to have a few days where you stay at home. Listen to your child and watch for signs that they need to go. If you feel there may be health problems preventing a child from using the toilet, seek professional advice from your family doctor.

Child avoids night-time toilet training routines.

Build strong reciprocal relationships with Petit Early Learning Journey

At Petit ELJ, we believe in partnering with families, not just encouraging participation. Every family has its values, belief systems and ways of doing things. So, we need to listen, understand and provide genuine support on the things that matter most to you.

We also value routines and rituals for creating a calming and confident rhythm within our centres. We invite you to learn more about how we do things and the strong emphasis we place on our community and relationships with families and children.