Tried-and-tested ways to tackle toddler toilet training

The biggest hiccup parents encounter is when toilet training turns into a battle of wills.
Tried-and-tested ways to tackle toddler toilet training

To switch successfully from nappies to underpants, your child needs to learn a heap of skills, from recognising the early signs that he needs a wee so he can make it to the potty on time, to being able to pull his pants down and sit still for more than a few seconds.

But you can help your child learn 90 per cent of the skills he needs to stay dry while he’s still got his nappy on. He can master them one at a time, so there’s no need to multi-task, and no reason for him (or you!) to get stressed or upset.

And when you feel he’s ready to start potty-training

for real, all you’ll have left to do is swap his nappy for a pair of big-boy pants.

Learning to use the potty is a big milestone in your child’s life. These fun games help your little one to gradually get used to the idea of going to the toilet before you’ve even removed his nappy.

Blow bubbles

Leave a bottle of bubble mixture in the bathroom and hand the wand to your child the next time he’s sitting on the potty, whether he’s got his nappy on or not.

Blowing out will make him push down the muscles in his abdomen, which gives him a similar feeling to when he’s doing a poo.

It’s a handy game to establish before you start potty training, as toddlers who are anxious during the process tend to hold poos in. This little trick will help him relax his muscles and let go of that number two.

Go on a loo hunt

Wherever you go, make a point of visiting the toilet with your toddler. Find something you like about each one and tell your child, ‘I like this toilet seat’ or ‘I like this clever flush button’. Then ask him what he likes best.

It helps reassure him that there will be a loo everywhere he goes, and to get him comfortable with all sorts of toilets.

Captain underpants

Pulling underpants up and down can be tricky, but you can make practising it fun. First of all, you’ll need some underpants – ideally a couple of sizes too big, so they’re easy to get on and off .

Lay a few pairs around the living room, then ask your child to put on a pair over his nappy – don’t worry if he can’t pull them all the way up.

Play some music and tell him every time it stops, he has to put on a pair of underpants over the ones he already has on. At the end of the game, count how many he managed as you help him take them off, one by one.


Whatever game you’re playing, the golden rule is the same: you set up the game, but it’s up to your child to decide whether he wants to play. Pressuring him will just put him off using the potty.

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