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After a couple of years of nappies, you probably can’t wait for your little one to be toilet trained. But don’t be in too much of a hurry. The secret to going from nappies to pants is to wait until your wee one is ready.

Follow their lead and don’t be fazed if other children learn to use the toilet earlier than yours. Many children start at around the age of 2 but each child is different – so stay calm and don’t rush them into it.

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Getting started

Starting toilet training can be a common source of stress. Being patient and remembering that it’s all new to your little one (and keeping a sense of humour!) will help you and your wee one to get through it together.

Once you feel your child has got a rough idea of what it’s all about, get a potty or toddler toilet seat and step – whichever you plan to use – and let your child get used to it. At first, they’ll probably use it as a toy.

You can help them to find out what it’s really for by playing at putting a doll or a teddy on it. Kids this age love to copy you, so let them come with you when you go to the toilet. Talk about what you’re doing in simple terms and let them use the flush if they’re not scared by the noise. Avoid words like ‘dirty’ that may cause your child to feel unclean. Be patient and try not to expect too much, too soon.

Your child might get the hang of wees before poos, or the other way around. It will all work out with time.

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Toilet training without the tears

Tip #1: Time it right

Start toilet training when you have lots of time. If your child’s about to start nursery, you’ve just moved house, have just had another baby, or are going through other changes, it’s best to wait until things are less busy.

Also, try to be consistent – don’t confuse things by changing from nappies to pants during the day.

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Tip #2: Be prepared

If you live in a house you could try keeping one potty upstairs and one downstairs. It can also be a good idea to have a potty with you when you’re out and about, and to keep one in the car too. And we can’t say this enough – always have a spare set of clothes!

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Tip #3: If they need to go, let them go straight away!

At first, when your child needs to go they need to go now, so don’t ignore it when the call comes. As your little one grows, they’ll be able to wait longer. Keep track of when your child usually does poos so you can pick the best times of day to suggest using the toilet.

Bath time is a good time to introduce the toilet. You can help them add the toilet to their bathtime routine by getting them to go once they've taken their clothes off before they get in the bath.

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Tip #4: Make sure your toddler’s clothes are easy to get on and off

Try to dress them in things you can remove easily. Trousers with stretchy waistbands will be easier to take off than button-up dungarees if there's an emergency!

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Tip #5: Let them set the pace

If you know when your child is likely to want to use the toilet, encourage them to sit down. But make sure they feel it is their choice – you’ll know that toddlers like to feel they are in control!

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Tip #6: Be prepared for accidents

Accidents happen when you’re toilet training your toddler. When your toddler has an accident, try to change them right away and calmly encourage them to try out the potty or toilet next time. Try to repeat your calm response every time, even when you thought the accidents were over. They’ll get there in time!

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Tip #7: Encourage them with praise

Praise is your child’s best teacher. Say something like, ‘You were a big boy/girl to use the toilet,’ but don’t make a big deal of it. For example, try not to give them rewards of food or toys. Ignore the odd mistake and never tell them off for not using the toilet or having an accident.

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Tip #7: Trainer seats

A trainer seat clips onto the toilet and can help make your child feel safer, more confident and more grown-up too. If they like to take their time (they sometimes do) have a story at the ready or a song you can sing together. Why not try something to do with the toilet like “old Macdonald had a wee”?

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