1. First steps Children’s drinking habits Before you can consider whether your child is ready to start to toilet train, they need to have good drinking habits.  Every time your […]

1. First steps

Children’s drinking habits

Before you can consider whether your child is ready to start to toilet train, they need to have good drinking habits.  Every time your child sits down for a meal or snack, encourage them to drink water from a cup (not beaker or bottle) they should be drinking around 200ml of water, about 1 small cup. Always make sure they have access to water throughout the day too.  If offering children milk, limit this to no more than 1 pint per day as this can cause constipation.

Drinking this amount encourages children’s bladders to expand, which in turn sends signals to children that they need a wee. Without this drinking habit, their bladders may not send them the signal that they need to use the toilet, and this is when accidents occur.

 Getting ready for toilet training

 Children may show signs that they are ready from around 18 months but often it’s around 2-3 years old.

The signs they show are not limited to this list but your child should have some before starting toilet training:

· Has the ability to sit on a toilet unaided,

· Drinks around 6-8 cups of water daily,

· Good ability to follow simple instructions

· Awareness of wet or dry nappies (talk to them during nappy changes to introduce the idea).

 · Indicate when they need a wee,

· No sign of constipation or infection,

· Gap between wet nappies is around 1-1.5 hours,

· Poo soft stools at least 4 times a week.

To support your child to feel more comfortable about toilet training, during nappy changes, even if the child hasn’t started toilet training, offer the child a chance to sit on the toilet before a fresh nappy is applied – but don’t force it if they say no.

 Nappy test

If you are unsure if your child is ready, then you can try the “nappy test”. Pop some kitchen roll in your child’s nappy and see how long they can last before it’s wet.

Monitor every hour and make a log, writing down if they are wet or dry. After 2 days of this if you look back over the log and find that your child has stayed dry for most of the time then your child is ready for pants.

2. Making a toilet plan

The next step is to make a toilet plan. This needs to be consistent between both the home and the nursery setting, so your child knows what to expect. Things to consider:

· It is recommended that children start straight on the toilet with a step and a seat (unless you have child sizes toilets). However, you will need to consider if you wish to use a potty.

· If you choose to use a potty then the potty should remain in the same space, such as in the bathroom. This is to encourage continuity for the child – but it should also be a private space for them

· When sat on the toilet, a step should be provided so that the child’s knees are slightly higher than their hips.

· Children should wear loose clothing that they can easily pull down and up.

Ensure that when you are out and about or when the child is at nursery that they have    plenty of clothing to change into. Remember toilet training takes time and consistency is     part of the process.

It is recommended that children to go straight into pants rather than pullups. Pullups are designed to hold the liquid and so children do not feel that they have wet themselves.

3. Time for the toilet

As much as possible, children should be encouraged to have long sits on the toilet, i.e. 1 minute per year of age, then 5-10 minutes for 4 year olds +.

Encourage a child to sit on the toilet and engage them with a book or let them blow some bubbles. The blowing bubbles motion helps the child to relax their body and to release their bladders and can make the whole experience positive.

Although we don’t recommend setting a timer, for the first few days it’s worth taking your child to sit on the toilet every 90 minutes, as this is how long they might be holding their bladder. 

Even if the child has had a wet accident, encourage them to sit on the toilet to empty anything left in their bladders. This helps to prevent an accident shortly after.

Consider incentives or rewards for children who use the toilet to sit on, not just for when they use the toilet for its purpose.

For children learning to use the toilets for poos, this may take a little longer. If the child knows they need a poo but doesn’t want to go on the toilet, keep the child in a nappy but loosen the tabs. If the child is happy with this option, the next step can be to line the toilet bowl with a nappy, before eventually taking the nappy away altogether.

 Things to remember

· Every child is different, toilet training is a routine and routines take longer to learn.

· Children start out only holding their bladders for 1 hour to 90 mins. As they develop, so does their bladder.

· Use the same language for toileting and keep consistent with any rewards

· Remain positive and calm, we want this to be a positive experience, there will  always be a few accidents,

· If children are unwell, constipated or have infection then toilet training won’t go to plan!

· Children who are toilet trained are not likely to stay dry during the night until they are older.

· Toilet training for a poo takes a longer time for a child to adjust.

· Keep communicating progress between the home and nursery setting.

Children who are 5 years and older who are struggling to grasp toilet training should be discussed with a GP.

Children with additional needs can still undergo the “Nappy test” and follow the methods used, however this will be more relaxed and an occupational therapist may be able to support this further with ideas and steps to take.