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Tips for Toilet Training

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about toilet training my child?

Toilet training should start only when your child is ready. Each child is different in terms of when they are ready to learn. Your child may be ready to learn any time between 18 to 24 months of age, or older. The amount of time it takes to toilet train is also different for each child. Toilet training may take 3 to 6 months. You will need to be ready to devote the time and effort needed to train your child every day.

How do I know when my child is ready for toilet training?

Your child may be ready if he or she shows the following signs:

  • Stays dry for up to 2 hours or longer during the day
  • Wakes up from naps with a dry diaper
  • Is able to follow directions
  • Is able to pull his or her pants down and up again
  • Is able to sit still on the toilet
  • Feels uncomfortable when his or her diaper is wet or soiled and tells you he or she needs to be changed
  • Is aware of his or her urges to urinate or have a bowel movement
  • Shows an interest in using a potty or the toilet

How do I prepare my child for toilet training?

  • Let your child be present when you go to the bathroom. Show your child how you sit on the toilet. Talk to him or her about what you are doing and have words to express the act of going to the toilet.
  • Buy a potty chair or an over-the-toilet seat and step stool. Let your child choose which he or she would like to use, and let him or her pick it out at the store.
  • Let your child get used to the potty chair or over-the-toilet seat by having him or her sit on it with his or her diaper on or off. Show your child how the potty is used by putting a bowel movement from his or her diaper into the potty chair. Allow him or her to put the bowel movement into the toilet and flush it.

How do I toilet train my child?

  • Keep your child in loose pants that are easy to pull down. This will make it easier to quickly place your child on the potty chair or toilet if he or she shows that he or she needs to go.
  • Watch for signs that your child needs to use the potty or toilet. Your child's facial expressions may change or he or she may stop doing an activity. Your child may need to have a bowel movement within an hour after he or she eats, or urinate within an hour after he or she drinks liquids.
  • Place your child on the potty or toilet at regular times. Try placing him or her on the potty or toilet every 1 to 2 hours. Some boys may need to learn how to urinate in the toilet by sitting down at first.
  • Stay with your child while he or she is on the potty or toilet. You may be able to help your child relax by reading or talking to him or her.
  • Be patient. Praise your child if he or she urinates or has a bowel movement. Do not show disappointment or get upset if he or she does not use it. Children are motivated by praise.
  • Talk to your child's caregivers about your child's toilet training plan. This may include child care providers, grandparents, or babysitters. Ask them to follow the same routine you are using.

What else do I need to know about toilet training?

  • Talk to your child's healthcare provider if he or she is having trouble learning after a few months. Your child may not be ready for toilet training. You may need to take a break and try toilet training later when your child is ready. Your child may have physical problems that are making it hard for him or her to learn. Examples include constipation, an infection, or bladder problems.
  • Your child may still have accidents after he or she has been toilet trained. Children may be busy playing or doing an activity and forget to use the toilet when they need it. You may need to regularly remind your child to go to the bathroom. Do not get upset or punish your child if he or she has an accident. Change your child and ask him or her to help clean up.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.