Toilet training

Most children will be ready to start learning to use the toilet any time between about 20 months and about 3 years. Not all children are ready at the same age.

Here are some tips for toilet training your child.

Signs that your child is ready

Your child may be ready to start toilet training when they:

  • know when they are wet or dirty
  • are beginning to try to do things without your help
  • know they want to do a wee and can hold on long enough to make it to the toilet.

Moving your child out of nappies

The tips below are based on Plunket’s toilet training information. See the Toilet training your child page for more information, including what to do if your child starts wetting or pooing their pants again.

Toilet training tips

Be calm and relaxed when your child starts toilet training.

Try during summer because there are fewer clothes to take off and it’s easier to get washing dry.

Introduce trainer pants or underpants when your child seems ready, and help them to become familiar with the potty or toilet.

A small box or stool can help children to climb onto the toilet and help boys be able to wee into the bowl. A smaller toilet seat can also help children to sit on the toilet.

Take them to the potty/toilet at regular times. Give them enough time to try to go, but try not to leave them on the potty/toilet for too long.

Praise works well. Reward your child for trying, and when they succeed give them hugs, claps, stories or a star chart.

Children don’t always make it to the toilet in time when they are learning. Keep calm and don’t tell them off or punish them if they have an accident.

Children learn by copying others. Some parents let their children watch family members go to the toilet.

Teach your child to wash their hands after going to the toilet.


Related website

Toileting – SKIP
More tips for toilet training your child. See also the pamphlet, ‘The Tricky Bits: tips for under-fives’, which has a section about learning to use the toilet.

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