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Potty training: top tips for success

Peeing and pooing in the potty or toilet is a brand new skill to learn and even when they’re ready and excited to start training, most toddlers will have lots of accidents to being with. It’s important to be calm and patient, to keep encouraging your wee one and stick to the routine.

Top tips for success

Tip #1: Establish a routine

It’s best to say it’s ‘potty time’ or ‘toilet time’ every couple of hours and make it a regular thing, as opposed to asking if they need to go. At first, toddlers will get little warning, can’t hold on and can’t always tell you if they need to go or not, these things come with practice.

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Tip #2: The poo reflex

Eating a meal is often the trigger for the body to poo – encouraging your toddler to sit on the potty after meals, maybe with a book or a toy, can make a poo in the potty more likely.

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Tip #3: Drinking and peeing

Children tend to need to pee about 15- 20 minutes after a drink so try to time sitting on the potty then. Most children will also pee soon after waking up, so try sitting them on first thing in the morning and after daytime naps.

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Tip #4: Sit or stand?

At least to begin with, it’s best to get boys to sit down to pee, this gives them the chance to have a poo as well, if one is coming. Later on, when they are confident and can manage, they can learn to pee standing up.

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Tip #5: Short and sweet

Regular potty or toilet time is key in the early stages of training, but keep it short, just 2 or 3 minutes is long enough. Don’t worry if they don’t do anything in that time, you’re just getting them used to the idea of sitting on the potty regularly.

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Tip #6: Rewards and results

Giving praise or a tiny reward like a sticker really helps keep your toddler motivated to use the potty or toilet. You can also use this strategy to get them used to managing each little step, including washing their hands, flushing and getting dressed again.

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Tip #7: Keep it fun

Having a few little toys for your wee one to play with while on the potty can help keep them busy whilst sitting and waiting to see if anything ‘happens’! Try these ideas to keep your wee one motivated and happy during training:

  • Food colouring in the toilet – this changes colour when the pee goes in.
  • Special ‘toilet-time’ toys for distraction when sitting on the potty or toilet.
  • Share a favourite book or song while waiting for the pee and poo.
  • Tiny rewards - avoid giving food but try stickers.
  • Check out the ‘Poo Goes Home To Pooland’ app.
  • Blowing bubbles helps with relaxation and can make peeing and pooing easier.
  • Personalise your potty with stickers.
  • Use target or ‘magic’ stickers for boys learning to stand and pee.
  • Musical potty – sing together or play music to keep them entertained while they’re waiting for something to ‘happen’.

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Tip #8: Keep to the plan

It’s really important to be consistent with training once started and not switch back and forward between nappies and underwear. This is confusing for your child and might mean it takes much longer to train. Make sure that childminders and nursery staff help with potty training in the same way as you, and if you can, take the potty with you when you’re out and about.

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