Toilet training – First steps

Toilet training can be a challenging time for many toddlers and their families, though it’s important to approach it one step at a time and consider a variety of factors that will impact on the process. By considering all these elements and having realistic expectations that it is more likely to takes months, than weeks or days, you can help yourself to be more patient with the process and try not to express your frustration to your child – as this will only result in stalled progress and even regressions in some cases. 

And our experience supporting many families with the toilet training of their little ones has taught us that many problems in the process develop when parents try to progress faster than the child is ready to progress. This commonly leads to parents feeling frustrated and unintentionally expressing this frustration verbally or through their body language (eg tone of voice and movements) in a way that their little pick up on. This in turns makes the child more anxious in relation to the toileting process, and often stalls or regresses progress that has been made.


  • Decide on a day to start – preferably one where you and your child can stay at home and don’t have other commitments. Ideally, you would put aside a few days to try things out before having to venture out in public.
  • Stop using nappies except for sleeping. Use training pants, underwear or go nappy-free. This will allow your child to find out what happens when he urinates. (And just accept that there will be more washing for alittle while).
  • Dress your child in clothes that are easy and quick to remove.
  • Try not to get too wound up when they wets herself or he misses the toilet as you don’t want to create anxiety and negative associations around toileting. Just clean up without any fuss.
  • Make sure your child can access the potty or toilet. Toilets are pretty high to climb onto for little kids so a step or purpose-built ladder or step. A toddler toilet seat is also useful to better fit little bottoms (and can be removed for bigger bottoms).

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