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A guide to toileting

  • 1-5 Years
  • 5-11 Years
  • Peeing, pooing and toileting
Young child sitting on toilet with feet resting on a step. Holding lots of toilet roll.

Teaching your child to use a potty or toilet is a new skill for them to learn. It's important to be patient as it takes time for your child to learn how to keep themselves clean and dry. 

When to start potty or toilet training

Potty and toilet training is the process of teaching your child to pass pee and poo in a potty or toilet. It is a good idea to start preparing your child to learn potty skills from around the time they start to sit up. By preparing them early, when they stop wearing nappies they will have already learn some potty skills. Read more about preparing for potty training.

There is no set age for when to stop using nappies. But, children usually show signs they are ready to use a potty or toilet between 18 months and 3 years. Remember to be patient as each child is different and learns this skill at different speeds. You can help your child by looking at books and talking to them about peeing and pooing.

Signs that your child might be ready to be potty trained:

  • Your child notices when they are doing a pee or poo, or when they think they need the toilet.
  • Your child is able to sit down on a potty or toilet and get back up again.
  • Your child stays dry for 1 to 2 hours or longer.

It’s a good idea to choose a time to start potty or toilet training when there are few other changes happening in your child’s life. Try to avoid times such as moving house, a new baby or starting nursery or pre-school.

How to start potty or toilet training

Try and notice your child’s signs of needing the toilet. This might include fidgeting, going quiet or moving to a certain part of the room. When you see these signs, gently direct them to use the potty or toilet.

Tips for potty and toilet training your child:

  • Encourage your child to sit on the potty or toilet so they get used to it.
  • Make them feel comfortable on the potty or toilet by using books or toys.
  • Avoid asking them to use the potty or toilet too much, try and allow them to think for themselves.
  • Give plenty of encouragement and praise for using the potty or toilet.
  • Try to stay calm if an accident happens as this will only make them feel more anxious about toileting.

Potty training pants or pull-up pants can be helpful to use when you first start potty or toilet training. Encourage your child to keep them dry by using the potty or toilet.

If your child is starting pre-school, you can speak to the staff and about how you are potty or toilet training. They should be able to follow your approach which will help with consistency. 

Potty or toilet training can be a good time to talk about the PANTS rules

It is ok if your child doesn’t want to use a potty or toilet, or keeps wetting their clothes. This is a sign they are not quite ready. Try again in a few weeks time.

A teddy bear sitting on a potty with a stack of toilet roll next to it.

Toileting issues

Transitioning from the potty to a toilet

Children transition from the potty to a toilet at different stages. Some children skip using a potty completely, and transition straight to the toilet. 

To encourage your child, you can use a training seat that clips onto the toilet. Or position a step or footstool in front of the toilet. This will encourage your child into a good position to fully empty their bladder and bowels. 

Speak to your health visitor if your child is about to start pre-school and is:

  • not yet toilet trained
  • still having toileting accidents

This will likely be upsetting for them so it’s a good idea to seek advice.

You can Call Us on 0300 029 50 50 or Text Us on 07520 649887 to start a conversation.


Need more specific support for your child?

If your child needs more help or has additional needs, you can visit our specific section for extra support.

Peeing, pooing and toileting for additional needs

Last reviewed: 1 November, 2023


Who can help

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s pee, poo or toileting, a health professional in our team will be able to offer advice and support.

You can Call Us on 0300 029 50 50 or Text Us on 07520 649887 to start a conversation.

Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays).

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