Most children are ready to begin toilet training when they are between 2 and 4 years old. Be patient, it can take weeks to months before a child is mostly dry. Many children will accidentally wet or soil their pants a year or more after toilet training starts. If your child does not learn to use the toilet after a couple of weeks. Stop and try again a few weeks later. Your child may not be ready.

Your child is ready to use the toilet when they can:

  • Tell you they need to go to the bathroom
  • Understand simple directions
  • Feel uncomfortable in wet, dirty diapers
  • Notice when they are peeing or having bowel movements
  • Be ready to learn

Tips for Toilet Training

When your child is ready it is important to go slowly and be patient.

  • Make the time to help your child get use to the idea of using the toilet or “potty” every day
  • Let your child sit on the toilet with clothing on and off
  • Show your child the toilet and explain what it is for
  • Watch for cues that let you know your child needs to use the toilet
  • Reward your child for their effort to use the toilet or trying eg. Stickers
  • Place your child on the toilet at regular times such as after getting up in the morning, after meals and snacks, before bedtime and naps
  • Keep your child off diapers during the day. Encourage your child when they go to the toilet. Avoid forcing your child to sit on the toilet
  • Teach your child to wash their hands

To learn more about toilet training, join the Nobody’s Perfect program offered by Toronto Public Health

Bedwetting

Bedwetting is when your child who was dry at night starts to wet the bed again or when a child who is 5 or 6 years old has never stayed dry at night. Bedwetting is common in children and they do not wet the bed on purpose. To learn more about bedwetting visit Caring for Kids.

Contact your health care provider if bedwetting worries you and your child or prevents them from doing things they want to do, such as going to a friend’s for a sleepover.

Remember

  • Be consistent and follow the same toileting routine every day
  • Stay at home on the first day of toilet training
  • Choose a time when the family is relaxed
  • Do not try to toilet train if your child is upset
  • Children can control their bowel movements before they can control their urine
  • Children learn to stay dry during the day before they learn to stay dry at night
  • Do not punish, shame or blame your child when they wet or soil their pants