Children are generally ready to start toilet training between the ages of 2 and 3 although this is not the case for everyone. Children must recognise the need to go to toilet for them to successfully be toilet trained. They will show behaviour or use words to let you know that they need to go.

If you’ve decided that your child is ready to start toilet training, you may find these simple tips useful:

  • Set aside some time to devote to the toilet training process when you first start, as for the first couple of days you may find yourself in and out of the toilet every few minutes.
  • Don’t make your child sit on the toilet against his or her will, this will only distress them and make the toilet training process a lot longer.
  • Create a calm and reassuring atmosphere and show your child that they do not have to be afraid.
  • Be sure to praise all attempt at using the toilet even if nothing happens.
  • Show your child how you sit on the toilet and explain what you’re doing (because your child learns by watching you).
  • Establish a routine. For example, you may want to begin toilet training by having your child sit on the toilet after waking with a dry nappy, or 45 minutes to an hour after drinking lots of fluid.
  • Only put your child on the toilet for a few minutes a couple of times a day to start with, and let your child get up if he or she wants to.
  • Once your child is comfortable with sitting on the toilet let them wear pull ups during the day. This will now allow you to start visiting the toilet more regularly without having to worry about changing a nappy each time. We do however recommend that you still use nappies for sleep times as they are more cost effective and also can hold more fluid.
  • Make sure your child’s wardrobe is adaptable to toilet training. In other words, avoid dungarees and baby grows that snap in the crotch. Simple clothes are a must at this stage and children who are toilet training need to be able to undress themselves.
  • Once your child appears to be mastering the use of the toilet, let him or her pick out a few new pairs of big boy/girl pants to wear.
  • Don’t be tempted to put big boy/girl pants on over their nappies as this can confuse them. Keep them for when they are confidently using the toilet and ready to go onto wearing them for the first time as it will be a special occasion for them that can often help with the toilet training process.
  • Once your child is ready to wear underwear you should look at taking them to toilet every 20 minutes at first to allow them to get used to having underwear on instead of a nappy. Keep giving them their reward and lots of praise until they are going to toilet independently.
  • Make sure all of the people looking after your child follow the same routine and use the same names for body parts and bathroom acts. Let them know how you’re handling the issue and ask that they use the same approaches so your child won’t become confused.
  • And remember that accidents will happen. It’s important not to punish toilet-training children or show disappointment when they wet or soil themselves or the bed. Instead, tell your child that it was an accident and offer your support.
  • Reassure your child that he or she is well on the way to using the toilet like a big boy/girl.

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