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When to start toilet training your child

Toilet training or potty training is helping your child learn to use the toilet.

Your child will learn to do this with your help. They will usually be ready to learn between the age of one-and-a-half and 3 years old. But each child is different and will start in their own time.

Signs your child is ready for toilet training

You'll know your child is ready to start toilet training when they:

  • can stay dry for 2 hours
  • ask to be changed
  • ask to use the potty
  • have regular poos
  • ask to wear underwear
  • follow simple instructions, for example, 'do you need to go?'
  • can let you know when they need to go
  • can pull their pants up and down
  • are physically able to sit on a potty themselves and stand up when they’ve finished

Getting ready for toilet training

Each child develops at a different pace. Your child may come into the bathroom with you when you go to the toilet. This helps them prepare and understand.

Things you can do to help prepare your child for toilet training include:

  • changing their nappy in the bathroom
  • talking to them about toilet training
  • involving them in the process
  • motivating them to learn by rewarding them

Reward every little step towards potty training. This could include rewarding them when they get undressed, get dressed or wash their hands.

Nappy changes in the bathroom

Start to change your child's nappy in the bathroom as this will help them link nappy changing with the toilet. You can also encourage them to wash their hands after the nappy change.

Talk to your child

Tell your child that when they are a big girl or boy they will be able to go to the toilet to do their pee and poo.

This gives them the opportunity to share the decision about their toilet training.

Read picture books about potty training together.

Get them involved

Get your child involved with changing their nappies. Change them standing up and get them to help with their clothing.

Page last reviewed: 25 January 2021
Next review due: 25 January 2024

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.