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Toilet training

Every child is ready for toilet training at different times, depending on their physical and emotional development. Children who have physical or learning difficulties might show signs of readiness at a later stage. It’s important not to compare your child’s readiness for toilet training with others. For most children, however, toilet training can be achieved between two to three years.

Your child will need to be physically and emotionally ready and understand what is happening.

Children learn to control their bowels and bladder in the following order:

  1. Bowel control overnight
  2. Bowel control during the day
  3. Bladder control during the day
  4. Bladder control at night

Signs that your child is ready for toilet training include:

  • Taking an interest in the potty or toilet, including following you into the bathroom to see how the toilet works
  • Telling you when they need to go for a wee or a poo
  • Their nappy staying dry for a reasonable length of time or is still dry after a nap
  • Preferring to fill their nappy in private
  • Asking to be changed straight after filling their nappy

ERIC have produced a helpful video on how to tell if your child is ready to start toilet training along with lots of useful information on the ERIC website:


It’s important to select a time when you’re calm and have the time to support your child as they learn a new skill. It’s best to avoid times of stress and change, such as a house move, new baby or illness.

Follow the guidelines below to help support you and your child as you toilet train:

  • Place a potty in a warm room that your child uses frequently
  • Develop a routine and stick to it; start by sitting your child on the potty every hour and when they start to remain dry in between, increase the time between potty visits
  • Dress your child in clothing that can be removed easily, such as trousers and pants with elasticated waists
  • Allow your child to choose their own underwear
  • Give lots of praise and encouragement when your child uses the potty
  • Read books about potty training together; you might like to visit your local library and choose these with your child
  • While toilet training your child, it’s advisable to use nappies when out or during a daytime sleep
  • Encourage boys to sit down to wee at this stage of training
  • Don’t restrict drinks as this can make your child thirsty and fretful
  • Clean up accidents without a fuss
  • Your child might have fears and ideas about the toilet and their own body; talk calmly about these fears as they could feel very real

When your child sits on the potty regularly, they’re ready for the second phase of toilet training. Follow these guidelines to support you and your child:

  • Try taking a short trip out without a nappy, such as a visit to the park or shops
  • Ask your child regularly if they need a wee and give lots of praise and encouragement
  • Don’t expect your child to be dry at night for up to a year after they’re dry during the day; continue to use nappies at night
  • When your child’s nappy is consistently dry in the morning, try removing the nappy at night; use a plastic sheet to protect the bed
  • Don’t worry about night dryness as this can depend on bladder size and how deeply your child sleeps, as well as genetics
  • Encourage the use of different potties and toilets so your child is confident to use them in places other than home

If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your Health Visitor.

You can find additional support online by visiting:

Some children struggle more than others when learning to use the toilet. This can be for a variety of reasons. We understand how very stressful this is for parents.

We offer free workshops for families in Berkshire covering topics including:

  • Toilet training – trouble shooting the difficulties you are experiencing
  • How to help your child have a healthy bladder and bowel
  • Specific information for families with a child or young person with additional needs (a child does not need to have additional needs to benefit from the workshops)

It also provides you with the opportunity for you to ask those difficult questions about toilet training in a safe space. Workshops could be face to face or online.

To book, parents and carers can please fill in this form (opens in new window) and we will email you the details of our upcoming workshops.