A Guide to Toilet Training

Guide to Toilet Training

Every parent and child has their own journey into potty—or toilet— training. While some toddlers seamlessly transition into a world of nappy-free liberation, others battle with the newfound freedoms.

Either way, toilet training marks a transitional chapter for young parents and children. It’s a stride towards independence, a farewell to diapers, and a venture into a fresh world of self-care and hygiene.

Thankfully, we at Kindercare are experts in helping young New Zealand families transition into toilet training. In this blog, we provide tips on how to start toilet training toddlers and provide insights into this crucial parenting phase.


Timing is Everything

Similar to the timing of breastfeeding or even learning to walk, every New Zealand family has their own theory on when to start toilet training. However, one universal truth remains: timing is crucial. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to when you should start toilet training, there are some indicators to watch out for.


1. Age

Most experts agree that toilet training typically starts between 18 months and three years of age. However, it’s essential to remember that every child is uniquely equipped with their own natural behaviours.

There are key physical and behavioural cues to keep an eye out for:

  • Interest in the toilet— Does your child show curiosity about the toilet or express a desire to use it?
  • Staying dry for longer periods— If your child can keep their nappy dry for a couple of hours at a time, it may be an indication that they are ready for toilet training.
  • Communication— Can your child communicate their needs and feelings effectively? Verbal communication isn’t always necessary, as some children may use gestures or expressions to indicate their need to go.


2. Developing Milestones

Toilet training often runs a similar course to other developmental milestones in a child’s life. Watch for other signs that your child is physically and emotionally prepared for the transition to the toilet. These signs may include:

  • Physical control— Is your child beginning to control their bladder and bowel? This is a crucial requirement for successful toilet training.
  • Interest in independence— Some children can strive for independence early on. Toilet training is a step towards self-sufficiency, or social-education, if you will. Cause and effect: This may be a slightly more abstract cue, but if your child can comprehend the consequences of using the potty and staying dry, they may be more receptive to training.


3. Patience and Flexibility

As a parent, we often compare our toddler’s behaviours with that of our friends’. Although this can be a healthy exercise, it can also cause undue stress if our child is a late bloomer.

It’s crucial to approach this process with patience and flexibility. Some children master toilet training in weeks, while others may take several months. Be prepared for accidents and setbacks, and avoid putting too much pressure on your toddler. The goal is to create a positive and stress-free experience for them.


A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Start Toilet Training Toddlers


1. Create a potty-friendly environment

Before diving into the actual training, set the stage for success by creating a safe space for all toilet training. Start by introducing a child-sized potty chair or a toilet seat reducer, and let your child become familiar with them.


2. Respond to key cues

Pay close attention to your child’s cues and signals. This doesn’t mean looking into their eyes for bodily answers but noticing if they need to go and encouraging them to use the potty. Be attentive, gentle and responsive, whether it’s a specific facial expression, gesture, or a verbal signal. For example, if your child is subtly holding on to the front of their pants around the groin, it’s likely that they’re indicating needing to use the toilet.


3. Establish a routine

Similar to adults' morning yearning, consistency is key for toddlers. Establishing a regular routine for potty breaks can help normalise using the toilet.

Key times to encourage your child to use the potty:

  • After waking up in the morning
  • Before and after meals
  • Before bedtime
  • Whenever they show signs of needing to go


4. Use positive reinforcement

Celebrate the small victories. Praise can go a long way in motivating your child. Depending on your parental strategies, consider using a reward system, such as small treats or affirmations, as additional incentives. Be sure to reward the effort rather than the result, to avoid feelings of failure when they have an accident.


5. Stay calm and confident

Expect adccidents to happen— this is a very normal part of the training process. When they do, stay patient and calm. Avoid scolding or showing frustration towards your child, as this can make them anxious about using the potty or wanting to learn how to use it.


6. Plan for setbacks

Your child may regress temporarily or resist using the potty. It’s essential to handle these situations with patience and care. Revisit the basics and continue to offer positive reinforcement.


7. Gradually transition to underwear

As your child becomes a confident, clean potty user, transition from diapers to training pants or underwear during the day. By transitioning into underwear, you promote a sense of responsibility and encourage independence.


8. Night-time training

Usually, there is a separate transitional period between daytime and nighttime training. Naturally, nighttime training takes a little longer, so expect your child may need to continue using nappies at night for some time. Obviously, limiting fluids before bedtime can help reduce the ominous nighttime accidents.


For the many nervous young parents in Aotearoa, guiding your child into toilet training can test your patience. Rest assured, you will be okay! Remember, timing is everything, and like many elements of parenting, simply being attentive to the signs of readiness is key to the first steps into the loo!