When to start Potty Training

Potty Training: When to Start & What to Do

When it comes to parenting advice, potty training is one of the most searched topics on the Internet. The reason is that most parents wonder how on earth their little one will transition from the ease of disposable nappies. In years gone by, toweling nappies were so uncomfortable and such a hassle for moms that potty training was initiated much earlier by baby and mom. If your toddler is still in nappies you may want to look at Meg Faure’s advice on potty training:

When is the right time to start potty training?

Sometime between your baby’s first and second birthday, they will show interest in using the toilet. When they do, be sure to encourage their interest. This is the first sign your little one is ready.

Once your child has shown interest these are the three principles for choosing the right time:

  1. Start potty training in the first warm season after your toddler expresses interest. This is usually the first summer after 18 months but can be a little sooner.
  2. Make sure the time is right for your family – for example not when you have morning sickness or a newborn to contend with.
  3. Choose a week when you are with your little one fairly consistently. At least the first three days should be days when you are at home from work all day if possible.


Preparing to Potty Train: The first 10 Days

To potty train, you need a potty or a seat that fits on top of the toilet so your toddler feels secure to sit for a while – sometimes it takes time to coordinate the action of poo’ing or wee’ing.

For poo’ing it is better for your little one to be on a potty on the ground where their feet are supported as pushing out a stool may be easier with foot support.

Day 1-3

For the first three days, remove your toddler’s nappy completely and let them wander around – preferably outside (this is the reason to potty train in summer). They will have many an accident while they start to connect the feeling of needing to wee, with the feeling of actually wee’ing. Because of the great absorbency of our high-quality nappies, many babies don’t experience or understand the fact that they are wee’ing as it is absorbed away from the body so quickly by disposable nappies.

So for three days, let your one little play with no nappy on. When they stop and looks down with interest because they is wee’ing, say “You want to wee. Let’s go to the toilet.” They will most likely have already wee’d but the action of popping them onto the toilet will start to sink in.

This is a messy stage because your little one needs to be without a nappy most of the time. There must be no stress or frustration, just teaching positively.


Day 4-10

From day 4 set a timer for every 45 minutes. As the timer goes, you tell your little one its toilet time. Pop them on the toilet/potty. To encourage the actual wee, either you sit on the toilet (while they are on the potty) and you wee too (if you need to go) or you turn on the bathroom taps. Sometimes they will make a few drops and other times a good wee.

To encourage a good wee, make sure they have loads to drink on these days.

It is a good idea to be at home most of the time for this period too. Your little one should still largely have no nappy or training nappy/pants on during the day.


Day 10 onwards

Use normal underpants all the time, except for travelling in the car, when you can use training underpants or nappy. As you arrive at a new place, take your little one to the toilet and thereafter every hour.

potty training toddlers

What to expect

  1. Expect your little one to quickly learn what wee’ing feels like
  2. Listen out for them to tell you when they are doing it and reinforce the learning of the sensation positively.
  3. Expect your little one not to want to go to the toilet if they is very busily engaged in an activity and in this case, give a warning – “We are going to the toilet in 2 minutes when you have finished…”
  4. Expect your little one to make a wee on the potty 70% of the time you take them
  5. Reward with a smile and encouragement each time they gets it right.
  6. Expect a little regression now and again and encourage them by saying “Oh dear- an ‘oopsie’. Next time tell mommy and we will go to the loo”
  7. Some toddlers do not potty train for stools until much later.
  8. Most children have night nappies until the preschool years and that’s okay.


Join our next parent webinar for more advice:

We regularly host webinars where early childhood development specialists, Meg Faure, Lara Schoenfeld & Caitlyn de Beer give advice on how to best prepare your little one for their journey ahead. Popular topics discussed are things such as how to do fuss-free potty training or how to set positive boundaries for toddlers.

Keep an eye out on our Play Sense Events page or follow us on Facebook for the latest webinar notifications.