Potty Training, it's pants time!

I’m going to begin at the beginning, with the obvious. Children are available in all shapes and sizes. Some will be happy and ready to learn about potties and toilets at 1 year old, some will have no control or interest until they are 4 or older.
Some children will have medical issues that will mean that sorting out when to use a toilet will always be an issue.
You can sometimes teach a child a bit earlier by sparking an interest in potty training (using rewards, fancy new pants, the joy of being ‘big’ etc) when they obviously have control and knowledge over their bowels and bladder, but not always.
You can never potty train a child that has no control or knowledge of their bladder and bowels.

There are clues as to whether your child is aware that they are weeing or pooping. They may notice after the event and ask you to change a nappy. They may hide to poo. They may become distracted and stop talking while they poop. But these are not always signs that they know it’s coming, or that they can stop it happening and wait, even for a few seconds!

So, if you think they are showing some signs you can give potty training a go. If it doesn’t work in a week my own opinion is give it a rest and try again in a couple of months.

Tips to potty/toilet train/teaching

  • Get a potty for their doll, if the doll wees even better! Play at potties. Let them be the parent and explain it to the doll.
  • Buy some ‘big child’ pants. I don’t hold with pull ups and the like, I’m old fashioned I know, but wee trickling down your leg is a fine reminder that you are weeing and helps the young mind get a grasp much faster with what is happening in my opinion.
  • I also favour the all or nothing approach. Nappies at bedtime is fine but once in pants in the day, when awake, stick to it. No nappy because you are popping out! You need to help your child and different rules at different times are likely to confuse and upset. (my opinion again!)
  • Have lots of potties. Seriously buy lots, at the very least have one upstairs and one down. But ideally one in every room. Leave books by them. Remind your child almost hourly to have a try for a wee, read to them or let them read so it’s not boring as they sit, but don’t make them sit for ages! Praise them like a crazed person when they get it right! Say ‘oops, better luck next time’ and clean up quickly when they get it wrong.

potty child toilet training
Copyright: mitarart / 123RF Stock Photo
  • Take a potty with you when you go out, stash one in the car, under the pram, a folding one in your bag…always have one to hand, little kids can’t wait long – your new super power needs to be producing a potty in a blink! (DD once used hers in the middle of Sainsbury’s – many people are now thinking ‘how disgusting’ but it was that or a puddle! And at the time, no one complained and I removed potty etc with calm and haste)
  • Summer time is best – spend a lot of time in the garden!
I was lucky with DD she was only about 18 months when she decided ‘big girl pants’ were the way forward and she was dry in a week. I know this isn’t always the case. As I said, talk to your child, plan when you are going to give it a go, if they don’t get it in a week, or at least start to improve and have fewer accidents, give it up. Tell your child you’ll try again in a while. Wait a few months. It will happen.
Try to remain relaxed.
Buy some carpet cleaner.
And some wine.
Good Luck.

Disclaimer – I have only potty trained one child, the perfect DD, and this was 13 years ago, but my advice stands...and you don't have to take it, that's how advice works.


  1. great advice! ive worked in nurseries, im trained in to work in nurseries and have done my fair share of potty training! one nursery I worked in I was in the toddler room, so we could have anything from 1 child potty training to 7 or even 10! all of the advice you have given is right on point in my eyes. I don't believe pull ups work at all! pull ups or nappies at bed and nap time is fine, but as you said wee going down there leg is a good reminder!

    Catherine x

    beauty is in the eye of the beholder

    1. Thank you - the wee down the leg makes me giggle. I'm such a child, but it's true it works!

  2. 13 years on & this is still the perfect advice post! Totally agree with everything especially 'Let your child see you use the toilet' I really do believe that this shows the kids that it's normal & not something to be afraid of!! :D

    1. Thanks so much. TBH DD was obsessed with toilets, she always wanted to follow us in!

  3. Definitely agree with your Twitter commenter!
    Am interested to know though - once DD had used her potty in Sainsbugs, where did you empty it?

    1. haha Sainsbury's had a cafe (no not there!) so they also had toilets - I just nipped in there and emptied it in the loo. But if not I would have used an outside drain to empty it, it was only wee.

  4. great post! I've found that if you can its far better to wait till their ready, then it only seems to take a few days. Otherwise it takes longer and seems to go in stages - dry during the day/night, using other toilets etc.
    Also, we don't use potties, just the toilet with a child seat on it and a stool if necessary. In a large family our size, it soon becomes really clear to the youngest what the toilet is for and what you do in it, and to then direct them to use a potty would be just confusing in my opinion.

  5. I've only recently written a very similar post. Definitely agree if it doesn't click quickly then they're not ready and try again in a bit. We did that with N (6 days doing ok at home, but one disaster day at nursery), and when he chose to do it himself at 3y 4m, it took less than a week.

    Amazing that DD did it at 18 months as usually that's the stage when they're only just able to control their bladder.

    And, I have no idea how parents manage to avoid letting their children see them in the loo. Mine always used to follow me in there (although the OH wasn't keen as N once tried to put his hand in the flow! - could be a while before he learns to stand and wee).

    1. I was indeed amazed that she was into knickers at such a young age, I probably would doubt my memory but I have hilarious video footage of her demonstarting her new grown up pants and lack of nappy!! (and it has date stamps) Hahahaa

      and yes DD was fascinated with watching both of us wee!

  6. Fantasticpru23/5/14

    My two are 22 and nearly 25 and I go with your advice too. Remember holding daughter over a drain once as my GP parked next to us. He laughed like a loon! I once read the three stages - they need to know they've been, they need to know they're going, and then they know they need to go.... not much point pushing them until they've reached the third stage (more or less).

  7. The early bladder control must be in the genes, you were out of nappies at that age too. No pull ups in those days so the wee down the legs worked for you!

  8. lol I have the upholstery cleaner and wine on stand by! I'm training my third child today. She's 27 months old - we are 6 hours in & have gone through 11 changes of trousers. Still no wee in the toilet. I agree with your method and use a similar method myself of no nappies during the day. If they aren't ready then they aren't ready. Will see how she does after a couple of days. Thanks for sharing this post with me x