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Potty and toilet training

Potty and toilet training

Some children take to toilet training quickly, others take more time.

Either way, it's common to have questions and face setbacks as your child learns this new skill.

See information from the NHS on how to potty train your child.

The Children's Bowel and Bladder charity, Eric, has a parent and children forum and a free helpline, as well as some useful information:

Tiny happy people potty training tips contains lots of practical tips and tricks to help you get your child out of nappies and into pants. They have also gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about potty training and put them to ERIC, the children’s bowel and bladder charity, who have provided some tips and suggestions.

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In York, the Healthy Child Service can answer questions and provide support for potty or toilet training and can refer to professionals for further support if required.

The Healthy Child Service Continence service offer support to a child and their parents through the Bowel and Bladder Education Workshop, that are run by the child development and school nursing team.

If you have any questions or worries, you can call the Healthy Child Service on telephone: 01904 555475, Monday to Friday 9.00am to 4.30pm, or email: [email protected].

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Toilet training is something that worries many parents, but it doesn’t usually worry your child.

Raise York - How to toilet train your child


Here are some top tips to introduce early, to encourage toileting readiness:

  • sit on the potty at nappy changes, after sleep or feeds, or if you notice signals from child
  • change your child’s nappy in or near the bathroom
  • change your child in the standing position
  • show your child the contents of their nappy if the child has done a poo
  • empty their poo in toilet, while they watch
  • encourage your child to flush the toilet

Develop your child’s skills to help with toileting success:

  • support your child to wash and dry their hands
  • support them to dress and undress
  • support your child to understand rewards and praise
  • support your child to sit on the potty or toilet
  • reading stories and using cue cards
  • raise your child’s awareness by putting some kitchen roll in their nappy
  • have an open door policy at home when using the toilet
  • encourage your child to wipe their own bottom
  • being consistent with names of “wee” and “poo”
  • leave a potty somewhere your child has easy access to

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Using a potty is a new skill for your child to learn. Most children are ready to use the potty/toilet between two and two and a half years old. It is best to take it slowly and go at your child's pace and taking their lead. Being patient with them will help them get it right, even if you sometimes feel frustrated.

Encourage your child to sit on the potty/toilet when they have woken up from a sleep and after meals, because digesting food often leads to an urge to do a poo. Having a book to look at or toys to play with can help distract your child to sit still on the potty.

If your child regularly does a poo at the same time each day, leave their nappy off and suggest that they sit on the potty.

As soon as you see that your child knows when they're going to have a wee, (they may become fidgety) encourage them to use their potty. If your child has an accident don’t make a fuss, clean up the mess and reassure your child.

Take your child to a potty/toilet every 1 and a half to 2 hours during the day.

Make sure your child is wearing clothes which are easy to take on and off to encourage independence.

Your child will be delighted when they succeed. Use lots of praise and a reward such as a sticker.

When your child is doing approximately 50% of their wees and poos on the potty/toilet stop using nappies during the day and use cotton pants.

Take your potty out with you, putting a nappy or pull up on your child, even for a short time will confuse your child, this will lead to less success.

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Children do not learn how to be dry during the night the same way as they learn during the day. Most children become naturally dry during the night within a few months of potty/toilet training in the day. These tips can help you support your child to be dry during the night:

  • making sure your child drinks plenty of water during the day
  • stopping food and drinks an hour before bed
  • encouraging a final wee before bed
  • taking them to the potty/toilet during the night if they wake up but do not “lift” them to use the potty/toilet if they are asleep
  • having a good bedtime routine.
  • trying to avoid being constipated

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Helping your child poo in a toilet or potty.


It's very common for a child aged two to four years old to only want to pass a poo in their nappy. They may feel worried about using the toilet or potty or could be constipated due to holding their poo for a long period of time.

Building your child’s confidence to use the potty/toilet will help them over-come their worries.

  • read stories to them about children using the toilet or potty
  • have some special toys in the bathroom which can be used for distractions when your child is sitting on the toilet or potty
  • encourage your child by using rewards such as stickers
  • sit your child on the toilet or potty wearing a nappy to pass their poo
  • stand your child next to the toilet as soon as they have done a poo to take their nappy off; encourage your child to empty the nappy into the toilet and flush the poo away
  • ask your child to wash and dry their hands

When your child is showing more confidence and happily passing their poo on a toilet or potty, the next step would be to cut a hole in their nappy so your child has the comfort of the nappy but emptying their bowels through the hole into the toilet/potty.

With lots of praise and consistency your child will learn to poo in the toilet or potty.

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