As the weather warms you may be starting to think about toilet training your toddler. If you’re anything like me, this may be filling you with dread and making you reach for the wine glass.

But never fear, I made it through – and so will you. With these four toilet training tips you’ll have everything you need to make toilet training your child a success.

1. Wait until they’re ready to toilet train

The most important part of successful toilet training is waiting until your child is ready. Wanting to get rid of nappies, the impending arrival of a new baby, or pressure from well-meaning relatives and friends can mean starting toilet training too soon. Starting before your child is ready will probably mean that toilet training will take longer and be the cause of many tears (from both you and your child!).

How do I know if my child is ready to toilet train?

  • Language skills: can communicate needs with parents and other caregivers and understands simple instructions.
  • Language skills: can communicate needs with parents and other caregivers and understands simple instructions.
  • Motor skills: can walk to the potty or toilet, pull pants down and get on.
  • Bowel movements occur on a relatively predictable basis.
  • Has longer periods of dryness i.e. wakes from a day nap with a dry nappy.
  • Is showing interest in imitating other family members in the bathroom.

Most children show these signs between two and two-and-a-half years old, though some will show them earlier and some later. When you see the signs its time to start!


2. Be prepared – make toilet training easier with an organised approach!

    1. Once you start toilet training, it is best to be consistent and committed to avoid unnecessarily elongating the process. This means being prepared by having everything you need (more than just a potty!) to support your child on this journey.
  • Take them shopping to choose some new underwear, with their favourite characters on them. And ensure you have plenty of clothes your child can quickly pull up and down themselves – avoid buttons, drawstrings, overalls or tight clothing.
  • Make sure the timing is right – avoid times like the lead up to Christmas, or when other big changes are occurring, like a new sibling or starting at a new daycare.
  • If your child is in care, make sure to talk to the carers about toilet training and what methods you’ll be using so that they can be consistent where possible.
  • Once you start toilet training, it is best to get rid of nappies completely during the day except for sleeping. Try to allocate a few days at home if possible and if after four or five days it is clear that your child is not ready or it is causing your child significant distress, stop training completely for a few weeks, and then try again.

3.  Make it fun – toilet training can be crappy, make it happier with these simple tips! 

If you don’t laugh during toilet training, you’ll cry. Making toilet training fun will make it a positive experience for your little one. We know it can be challenging but try to make the most of it with these fun ideas:

  • Sticker charts – a colourful chart where the child picks a sticker when they successfully use the toilet can be a great motivation.
  • A special song – one of the challenges during toilet training is getting your child to sit on the potty or toilet long enough. A special song you sing together on the toilet can be an engaging way to keep them sitting and also help them relax.
  • Blowing bubbles – blowing bubbles can also encourage a child to relax and can help them ‘let go’.
  • Floating targets – particularly useful for boys, floating targets can be used to help encourage a child to go in the toilet, and are guaranteed to have everyone giggling!
  • Prizes – consider wrapping up a number of small toys or other gifts and putting them in a special box. Get your child to help decorate the box and let them pick a gift from the box when they successfully use the toilet.

4. Don’t train them at all (hang on, what!?)

Some parenting gurus such as Janet Lansbury suggest that children don’t really need to be “trained” to use the toilet at all and that given the right environment they will learn to use the toilet in their own time, with very little adult intervention.

This philosophy believes that toilet training will happen naturally and easily when we ask our child to actively join us in their bathing, nappy changes and other self-care routines from birth. This includes communicating the actions you are taking with their body and avoiding negative language around body parts and bodily functions. For example, don’t screw up your face and complain about how stinky they are!

This approach also involves modelling toilet use, so allow your child to see you using the toilet, and don’t suggest it is something to be embarrassed about. Importantly, avoiding power struggles about toileting is promoted, and forcing or coaxing children to use the toilet is discouraged, with the idea that trusting your child will learn when he is ready being central to success.The downside of this method is that if there is a need to have your child trained within a certain timeframe, for example in order to start pre-school, it may be necessary for more parental involvement in the process to speed things along if a child hasn’t self-trained quickly.


Whatever methods you choose, remember, there may be setbacks and it is normal to feel frustrated. Keep in mind that unless there are developmental issues involved, all children will be toilet trained eventually – staying patient is the key!

Make sure to watch out for issues like constipation or urinary tract infection, and if you have any concerns, consult your GP.

Can you share your sure fire ways to achieve toilet training success?

Author

Alison is a freelance writer and communication strategist whose experience as a mother to her six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter inspires her to share stories with other parents, to hopefully help everyone make it out the other side with their sanity intact! Alison lives in Sydney with her husband and kids in a half-finished dream house she hopes will be completed before the kids move out, and spends her spare time scouring Pinterest for design ideas, searching Gumtree for second-hand furniture and sweeping the never ending dust off the floor.

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.