When to toilet train a toddler?

Thinking about toilet training? Wait until your child is ready and follow their cues for a faster transition from nappies to underwear.

Toilet training is often approached with considerable trepidation by first time parents. Don’t be in a hurry to start – it is important to wait until your child is ready. Then, when your little one masters this significant milestone, both they and you will feel like you’ve accomplished something big.

When to start?

There is no set age for starting toilet training. Every child is different, but there are some signs of readiness you should look for. The most important thing to remember is to wait until your toddler is ready.

What to look for?

  • Communication – often verbal language milestones precede toilet training, as your child needs to be able to communicate their needs and follow simple instructions.
  • Control – your toddler should be able to stay dry for an hour or two at a time and is sometimes dry after naps.
  • Awareness – they understand the concepts involved and can let you know when they need to do a poo or wee.
  • Motor skills – often it is easier to keep your child naked from the waist down when they are toilet training, but it can help if they are able to do some simple dressing, like pulling up their pants.
  • Curiosity – if they are showing curiosity about the bathroom habits of adults or siblings, follow their lead and let them try, too.

Toilet or potty?

Whether your toddler uses a potty or moves straight to the toilet is up to you. If they are happy to sit on the toilet, you may want to invest in a step and toilet-seat insert straight away. Then again, potties can be great for when you are on the road and might not be close to a toilet. Choose whatever works best for your child.

Should we wait until summer?

Toilet training is definitely easier if your child can run around for most of the day without a nappy, but if you feel your child is ready it is best to follow their cues. In many parts of Australia, you will be able to get away with dressing lightly year-round, anyway.

What about trainer pants?

Whether cloth or disposable, many parents find that the trainer pants marketed as making toilet training simple actually end up confusing their child. Padded underpants and lighter nappies still feel pretty much like a nappy, so it is probably best to go without in the early days of toilet training. Trainer pants can be a good insurance against accidents for those first trips out in public, but it always pays to pack a spare change of clothes and a cloth nappy square to wipe up any messes.

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