Toilet Training


When should a child start toilet training?  

The best time to start toilet training is when your child can sit without support for short periods and has developed an awareness of passing urine or doing a poo. They may also let you know if they are wet or have soiled their nappy.  

Skills and abilities needed to be able to toilet train 

It is helpful if your child is starting to take an interest in getting put of nappies or pull-ups. Other things that will help include:  

  • ability to sit on toilet or potty 
  • able to remain happily on the potty or toilet for a few minutes 
  • child is comfortable going into the toilet (e.g. not scared of the exhaust fan or the toilet itself)
  • child can pull their pants up and down

Skills they will need to develop include wiping their bottom correctly, flushing the toilet, washing their hands etc.

If there is a major change about to happen that will affect the child’s life such as moving to a new house, arrival of a baby, or other change wait until you have the time and energy to spend successfully toilet training your child.   

What equipment and supplies are needed? 

  • Suitable potty or children’s toilet insert and steps that allow a good toileting posture 
  • Lots of pairs of underwear rather than nappies (be prepared for accidents at first) 
  • Reward system

This could range from a hug, “high five” or enthusiastically praising your child to additional rewards such as a reward sticker chart, ink stamp, or a small toy or lucky dip. Some families will use rewards like a trip to the park, or an activity they can do together – it is best if these types of rewards can be done the same day to maintain the child’s motivation. Some parents will use food treats such as a small lolly. It is not recommended to remove rewards from the child if they later have an accident or a setback. 

  • Try and ensure that the toilet is not a scary place. It may be helpful to have a few of your child’s favourite cartoon characters on the walls and to check that there are no spiders.Keep fragrances in the toilet to a minimum so that the child is not put off by bad odours or overpowering fragrances.  

What do parents and caregivers need?

  • Patience and a sense of humour 
  • Persistence and consistence - avoid telling your child “it’s OK you have a nappy on” if you have started to take them out of nappies 
  • Become aware of the signs that your child needs to go to the toilet 
  • Consistency 
  • Positive attitude – avoid making a fuss regarding bowel actions. If parents convey the messages that poo is dirty and disgusting it becomes hard for the child to associate this with the fact that passing bowel motions is a normal, healthy thing to do. 
  • It also helps to have an open-door policy so that the child understands that using the toilet is something that the whole family does. It can be helpful for fathers to show their sons how to stand and pass urine into the toilet. 
  • Praise the child when they achieve a skill. At first it may be praising the child for successfully sitting on the toilet or potty for a few minutes, and progressing to sitting and emptying their bladder and/or bowels while sitting on the toilet. 

Contact us to organise Education & Training (Western Australia only)

Please let us know your name.
Invalid Input
Please let us know your email address.
Invalid Input
Invalid Input
Invalid Input
Testimonial image:

Kylie – parent of a child that wets the bed 

Kylie rang our service as she was concerned about her five-year-old daughter, Mia, who was wetting the bed. Kylie had tried limiting Mia’s drinks in the late afternoon and evening and was also getting up at night to wake Mia and take her to the toilet.

Our advisor explained that it may take children until they around 5 ½ years old before they gain bladder control during sleep. Kylie was advised to encourage Mia to drink well throughout the day and was cautioned against cutting out drinks in the afternoon and early evening. Kylie was discouraged from waking Mia at night to take her to the toilet. Kylie was provided with information on obtaining a referral from Mia’s doctor to a bedwetting clinic if Mia continues to wet the bed past 5 ½ years of age.

Testimonial image:

Anastasiya’s story

“As a mum of two young children, I have experienced the joys of two pregnancies and postpartum recoveries. I was shocked after the birth of my first child to discover that my pelvic floor muscles had become weak. I sought advice from Bladder and Bowel Health Australia and learnt the importance of exercising these muscles. This knowledge helped, and because I was better informed second time around, I have now fully restored the dignity of my body and truly enjoyed the changes - and my motherhood. Thank you, Bladder and Bowel Health Australia, for informing young families about bladder and bowel health issues.” 

Testimonial image:

Doreen – carer of her husband who has dementia 

Doreen was becoming exhausted caring for her husband Tom, who has dementia. Tom was not always making it to the toilet on time and needed his trousers to be changed several times a day. Every day Doreen was also washing bedlinen and the four towels that Tom was laying on at night as he was soaking through his pull-up pants. 

Tom was receiving a high-level Home Care Package, and Doreen was able to arrange with their provider for some of Tom’s package to be allocated to funding continence assessment and management.  

Our advisor went to Tom’s home and conducted a thorough continence assessment. A continence management plan was developed with input from Doreen, and appropriate incontinence aids and linen protection were organised. Doreen is relieved that Tom’s incontinence has reduced, and her washing load has lessened. Doreen is now confident that she can continue caring for Tom in their home. 

Testimonial image:

Gary – experiencing leakage after his recent prostate surgery 

Gary met with one of our Bladder and Bowel Health advisors, as he was concerned about his urine leakage that was persisting after his radical prostatectomy five weeks earlier.   

Gary discussed his concerns with the advisor and was reassured that he was making good progress towards regaining bladder control. This reinforced the information he had received from his urologist. Gary was encouraged to switch to a smaller incontinence pad rather than continuing to wear the pull- up incontinence pants he had worn since his surgery. The advisor arranged some smaller pads for him to trial and provided details on where he could buy them close to his home. 

Gary was encouraged to drink plenty of fluid (particularly water) and to increase his fruit and vegetable intake to avoid constipation. Gary was uncertain if his pelvic floor muscles were working properly and he was referred to a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Gary left the clinic in a brighter frame of mind, confident that he was improving and had clear strategies to further support his recovery.