News & Media

20 February 2019

Toilet training your toddler: the dos and don’ts

It’s a milestone most parents don’t look forward to. That’s right, we’re talking toilet training.

Girl resting cheek on toilet roll in toilet

On one hand, you can’t wait until the day nappies aren’t on your grocery list or filling up your washing machine. On the other, you’re dreading the constant search for public toilets and the fact your little one is actually growing up.

It can be hard to know when your child is ready to ditch the nappies and use a toilet, but when you are both ready to face the music, there are some handy hints to know.

Here’s some advice from our children’s continence nurse, Trish Cronin:

Every child is different

Most children are ready to be toilet trained between the ages of two and three, but every child is different. Don’t feel like a failure if your little one isn’t toilet trained by a certain age. In fact, pushing your little one to use the toilet too early can be cause for more delays and hurdles.

Kids usually show signs of being ready to use the toilet. They might have a dry nappy for about one and a half hours; follow you to the toilet; ask questions or want to press the button; or they might tell you when they’ve done a wee or poo.

If you’re concerned your child isn’t daytime toilet trained by the age of four or by the time they go to kinder, see a continence nurse. Otherwise, the time will come.

Try to make it fun

The Wiggles

Toilets can be scary and strange for little ones. Try not to force your child to sit on the toilet as this can escalate refusal and delay the toilet training progress.

Sing along to The Toilet Song by The Wiggles together while your child sits on the loo for a minute or two. Don’t make a huge deal out of it if they don’t go; sitting is the first step to using.

Poo goes home to Pooland

Get a special small toilet seat and foot stool for your little one to sit on. Use posters and rewards charts where your child gets a sticker every time they sit on the toilet and an extra one for using it. Download and use the app, ‘Poo goes home to pooland’, to show your little one what happens when they use the loo. Reduce the fear of going to the toilet, and remember to be patient as your little one learns.

Go straight to the underwear

Children will learn when they need to go to the toilet once they begin to understand what feelings to look out for. Pull-ups take away the moisture, and therefore your little one won’t become aware of when they are going. You might need to endure a few accidents in underwear, but your child will eventually become more inclined to use the toilet.

Normalise toilet talk

Our kids won’t feel comfortable telling us about toilet trouble if we keep making wee and poo taboo.

Talk to your kids about going to the toilet and have names like pee and poo or number one and number two so they know what to call it.

When you normalise toilet talk, your kids will find it easier to open up about any toilet trouble they’re having.

Be patient!

The secret to toilet training is patience. Set time aside so you can spend the time needed to train your little one. And remember – be encouraging and reward their efforts, as positive reinforcement goes a long way.

Reasons children have some accidents

  • Constipation can cause accidents as the bowel puts pressure on the bladder.
  • Not drinking enough water can create a small bladder.
  • Going to the toilet too often can lead to an overactive bladder.
  • Making kids go just in case means they don’t learn to fill their bladder and they can experience issues like small bladders. Trust that they will tell you when they need to go.
  • Constipation, diarrhoea and daytime wetting can be influenced by diet. Not drinking enough water, or having caffeinated drinks, can lead to bladder issues and difficulties in toilet training.