So, you’ve decided to start toilet training your toddler. Now what? How do you actually start?
The first thing you should do is REALLY make sure you’re ready. Is your toddler showing signs they’re ready to toilet train? Are they physically and emotionally ready? If you’ve got your doubts, wait.
Trying to toilet train a child who isn’t ready could prolong the process. It could be a long, messy, frustrating time for everyone involved.
Secondly make sure you’ve picked the best time to toilet train. Clear your schedule so you can stay home for at least a few days. Get help if you need it.
And thirdly, make sure you’ve got everything you need. Have undies ready, the potty or toilet seat set up and plenty of toilet paper and nappy wipes to clear up messes!
Also make sure YOU are ready for the day. Have a shower, make your coffee and take care of anything that might distract you when you should be watching your toddler closely.
Now … how to start toilet training …
How to start toilet training – Day 1
1. Take off their nappy and put on some ‘big girl’ or ‘big boy’ pants
Make a big deal of how proud you are of them. Try keeping them out of nappies from now on in the daytime — in case switching back and forth confuses them and prolongs the process.
You might still want to use nappies for bedtime (and perhaps naptime if you’re worried they might pee in their sleep — although they will probably surprise you). Unless your child is usually dry at night, it may be easier to just focus on day training at first. Night training can come later.
2. Take your child to the toilet/potty and explain what they need to do
Make sure they have the right words ‘pee’, ‘toilet’, ‘poo’ etc and let them know that they need to tell you when they have to go.
3. Watch them for signs that they need to go
Watch your child constantly. Look for the signs they need to go — such as crossing their legs, dancing around, passing wind, going quiet. Also make sure you take them to the toilet at predictable times – after a nap, after lunch etc.
4. If you think they need to go or if they start to go take them to the toilet
Don’t make them sit for too long if nothing happens though. You don’t want them to feel like they’re being punished.
5. Praise, praise, praise
If you get a pee in the toilet on Day 1 then that is certainly something to celebrate. Give them a big hug and tell them how proud you are.
Chances are though that you won’t get many pees in the toilet on the first day. This is the day when your child is learning to identify the need to go, don’t be discouraged. It is all part of the process of learning. You might in be for a few days of this before things start to ‘click’.
Praise when they sit on the toilet or potty, even if nothing happens.
6. If your child has an accident don’t make a big deal out of it
Toilet training should always be positive and the child shouldn’t be punished or made to feel ashamed.
7. You will have to wipe your child’s bottom at first
You’ll also have to wipe girls after they pee (front to back) and remind boys to shake the drops off before putting their pants back on. Wash their hands (and yours!) with soap and water and teach them the correct hand-washing technique.
8. Pat yourself on the back …
… and have an early night because it will be more of the same tomorrow!
Remember that toilet training is a different process for every child. Some might ‘get it’ straight away while others may take a while. Try not to compare your child with others and take comfort in the fact that one day — hopefully soon — they’ll be fully toilet trained!
For more info, great free printable charts, and access to the forum to chat about your experiences, check out our Toilet Training Hub.