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Teddy bear and green potty inside of domestic bathroom
By keiki

A Guide to Toilet Learning

Toilet learning is an important stage in your child’s development and a real indicator of your child becoming more independent. In this article, we will discuss how to recognise the signs of your child being ready for learning how to use the toilet, the three stages of toilet learning and tips for toileting success.

When will my child be ready for toilet learning?

Children generally show signs of being ready for toilet learning around two years of age, however some will show signs a little earlier at around eighteen months and others older than two. It is important to recognise the signs early, as continuous use of a nappy or pull up can become an embedded habit for some children.

Signs to look out for

Signs that your child may be ready to begin toilet learning include:

  • Physical development: they are able to independently dress/undress, have dry nappies for up to two hours and they have the coordination and balance to use a toilet.
  • Cognitive development: starting to communicate when their nappy is wet or soiled, or that they need to go to the toilet, and can follow simple instructions.
  • Emotional development: Becoming interested in watching others go to the toilet, showing interest in using the toilet themselves.

Stages of toileting

Stage one: role play

Toileting is another new experience for your child. When your child shows interest in using the toilet, allow them to try sitting on the toilet with their clothes on, or pretend play with teddies and dollies sitting them on a potty and using paper and nappies. This play and exploration stage is important and allows your child to become familiar with toilet use before they are actually ready to try toileting themselves.

Stage two: practice

Stage two is all about practice using the potty or toilet (using a toilet seat insert can also help). In this stage your child will build up their skills and understand the steps of toileting.  It’s important to keep this experience positive; if they get distressed as you try to sit them on the toilet, stay calm and try another time.

You can also ask your child if they would like to try at times of the day you feel they are most likely to want to wee or poo. Let your child try to take off their pants and nappy but be there to assist.

Stage three: learning and independence

During toileting children are learning more about their body signs and being ready for a wee or poo, this is a big early development learning curve. Children will tend to gain control of their bladder sooner than their bowel so will often accomplish going for a wee on the toilet first.

To support your child, remind them to let you know if they need to go wee or poo, prompt your child to go to the toilet before you go out and invite them to try whenever you go. There may initially be setbacks, however positive encouragement and patience is key as you support your child on their toileting journey.

Toilet training hints and tips

Some helpful tips for and resources for your child’s toilet training journey are below:

  • Have a potty, pull ups and toilet paper that your child can role play with.
  • Dress your child in clothing that is easy to take down and pull up, such as pants with an elastic band waist.
  • Using the toilet can be scary for children at first. Making the toilet a comfortable and inviting place will help children use it independently and sit on the toilet for longer.
  • Communicate with childcare and any other regular carers to ensure consistency is maintained between home and elsewhere.
  • Read stories about toilet learning, ‘I want my Potty’ by John Ross and ‘Pirate Pete Potty’ by Ladybird books are two great books to try.
  • Establish some toilet routines such as sitting on the toilet after all meals, working towards a five-minute sit.
  • Complete nappy changes in or close to the toilet area so your child associates wees and poos with the toilet.

Transitioning to kindy or school

With the exemption of children who may have a specific health care need that impacts on their toileting ability, many schools will not accept children who are not yet toileted. Although occasional accidents are to be expected it is in every child’s best interest to be confident in their toileting prior to going to school.

Working together to support early toileting

At Keiki Early Learning we recognise every child is different and will find success in toileting in their own time. Our goal is to ensure all children develop independent toileting skills as part of their developmental journey.

We work in partnership with families to support children on their toileting learning journey. We believe open communication is key to ensure your child is receiving the same supportive message and even language in both day care and home environments. We will discuss daily routines with you and identify when we are seeing signs they want to try on the toilet, providing lots of ongoing support and positive encouragement. We encourage the use of pull ups once your child is regularly trying on the toilet, moving on to wearing only underpants when they are confident. If you have any questions or are concerned about your child’s toileting journey, please contact us to speak to our experienced educators at any time.