Most toddlers can control their bowels before their bladder, but remember your toddler is unique and will develop at their own pace, so go slowly and don’t compare your toddler’s progress with the other kids you meet.

When should I start potty training?

Potty training will only be frustrating for both you and your toddler if you introduce it too early. Look out for these signs that tell you your toddler is ready to be potty trained:

  • They’re aware of their dirty or wet nappy.
  • They know when they’re peeing and might even tell you they’re doing it.
  • They show interest in the toilet (they might see you use it and want to copy).
  • Having a dry nappy for at least 2 hours means their bladder muscles are strong enough to hold urine.
  • They fidget, squat or hide when making a bowel movement.

Here are some tips to help the training run smoothly:

  • It’s easier to start potty training in the summer so there are less clothes to wash and drying them is quicker.
  • Ask them if they need to use the potty every 2 hours throughout the day.
  • Talk to them about wet and dirty nappies to help them understand.
  • Consistency is important, stick to a routine and share this routine with others who are also taking care of your toddler.
  • After meals is generally a good time for some potty time.
  • Going out? Take the potty with you.
  • If you always change their nappy in the bathroom, they’ll begin to recognize that’s where they need to go if they need the toilet.
  • Leave the potty where they can see it, and if you live in a two-story house keep one upstairs and one downstairs so they are easily accessible.
  • Give them a book or a toy while they sit on the potty to help keep them still.
  • Put them in clothes that are easy to change, the less buttons and zips the better.
  • Praise them when they succeed – a sticker chart is much healthier than sweets!
  • If you know when your toddler usually has a bowel movement, leave their nappy off and offer them the potty instead.
  • Never punish them for having an accident.
  • Keep their nappy on at night until they’re ready for night-time training. This will be when they wake up most nights with a dry nappy.


Your toddler may have a lot of accidents and there could be many puddles to mop up, and clothes to wash, but try not to make a big fuss. Be prepared and stock up on cleaning products and mattress protectors. You want your toddler to get used to the potty and make it part of their daily routine, but if they get upset by the idea it means they are not ready so keep the nappy on and try again in another couple of weeks.