How to potty train: tips, ideas and a step-by-step guide

Ready to begin this big step in your parenting journey? We’ll help you get there.

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Red potty on a blue background with clouds

Key steps

To potty train your child, follow these key steps:

  1. Prepare in advance with all the equipment you’ll need: training pants, a potty, and step.
  2. Explain the process to your children – you’ll probably need to repeat this step a few times.
  3. Reward them for reaching important milestones and celebrate their successes.

Ready to make diapers a thing of the past? Like many challenges on the road to parenting success, potty-training may seem like a daunting process ... but it doesn't need to be if you take the right approach. Here we offer advice on how to potty train a boy and how to potty train a girl, as well as some easy to follow potty-training tips that should help this whole process run smoothly.  

Keep Sunlight Laundry Powder and Comfort Pure to hand in case of any accidents during the potty-training process!

When to potty train

Every child is different so choosing when to potty train will depend on them. As a general rule, sometime between 18 months and 3 years is a good window for potty training. To know if your child is ready to start potty training, consider things like whether they can follow simple instructions, whether they can walk or sit down, and if they can get their clothes on and off independently. Most importantly, don’t rush it – if the child’s not ready then pushing them to potty train could make the whole process very stressful for both of you.

How to potty train: step by step potty-training

Now we’ve covered when to do it, it is time to start thinking about how to start potty training.

Here is a step-by-step guide and some helpful potty-training ideas applicable to boys and girls:

  • Step 1 – Have everything ready. This includes training pants, a potty or toilet training seat, and step. The sooner you get prepared, the easier it will be for everyone.
  • Step 2 – Explain the process to your child. Make sure you do so clearly and according to your child's age and understanding. If they understand what’s expected of them, and why, then it will be easier for them to start using the potty.
  • Step 3 – Train for all times of the day. If you’re wondering how to potty train at night, start by getting your kids into a routine. Sit them on the potty at intervals during the day, especially first thing in the morning, after every meal, and before bed, so that they know that they should always try and use the potty.
  • Step 4 – Set aside nappy-free and pant-free time. Whilst training pants are great, it can sometimes be confusing for kids. Allowing them to spend some time without this safety blanket means they are likely to pick up on when they need to use the potty quicker. Only ever do this indoors, not when out and about, to prevent your child from being stuck in wet clothes.
  • Step 5 – Create a potty-training reward chart. This is an important step, as children often respond favourably to a reward system. Create a chart which they can add stickers to every time they use the potty or toilet and offer rewards for small milestones:
    • The first time they do a wee on the potty or toilet.
    • The first time they do a poo on the potty or toilet.
    • The first time they are dry at night.
    • The first time they are dry all day.
Make sure children learn to wash their hands thoroughly after using a potty so they get into good hygiene habits. Bacteria on hands can lead to nasty illnesses for the whole family!

Potty training tips for boys and girls

Potty training is never straightforward and accident-free – and this is all very normal! If you’re ever in doubt of the process, bear in mind these tips:

  1. Remember that each child is different. All children go at different rates and have different experiences when it comes to potty-training. Don’t judge your child’s progress by that of others – give them the time and support they need.
  2. Choose fun undies. A great motivational tool is to use bright, colourful underwear with their favourite character on. This will help encourage the transition from nappies to pants or knickers and make your children feel more comfortable.
  3. Always listen to them. You’ll probably find that your child doesn’t always use the potty when they tell you that they need to go. They’re learning to listen to their body and understand when they need to use the toilet, and you should encourage this to support their potty training.
  4. Adapt the process for boys and girls. Whether you want to know how to potty train a boy or a girl, the basic process is the same - with a few small adaptions. Boys should start potty training by sitting on the potty. Then, when they get used to that, they can practice standing up to have a wee. With girls, they will always use the potty sat down but you should emphasise then need to wipe from front to back for hygiene reasons.

Those are our top potty training tips for girls and boys. Remember, there are no set rules when it comes to potty training so follow your child’s lead. They’ll get there in the end!

Originally published