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Toilet Teaching

It's important to start teaching your child to use the toilet when they are ready, and not when you want them to be ready. Children often show signs that they are ready to use the toilet. Most children learn to use the toilet at around 18-24 months. Learning to use the toilet can take weeks and sometimes even a few months. Your child may learn to use the toilet regularly during the day before they learn to use it during the night. 

How do I know if my child is ready to use the toilet?

  • Your child can follow simple instructions
  • Your child shows an interest in the toilet by following you to the bathroom
  • Your child is able to stay dry for up to 2 hours
  • Your child knows that he/she has done a "pee" or "poo" in the diaper
  • Your child can pull his/her pants up and down
  • Your child is able to say they need to go “pee” or “poo”

Getting ready 

  • Keep track of when your child has a wet or dirty diaper
  • Decide what you will use to help your child learn (e.g. potty, toilet seat, stepping stool)
  • Sort out clothes that will be easy for your child to put on and take off for the time your child is learning to use the toilet
  • Talk to your child about what a toilet is used for
  • Show your child what a toilet is used for by dumping poop from their diaper into the toilet and flushing it away
  • If your child follows you into the bathroom, show them the steps of how to use the toilet
  • Read a story about using the toilet

Learning how to use the toilet 

  • Be patient
  • For the first day of toilet learning, choose a day you and your child will be home all day 
  • Encourage your child to sit on the toilet or potty when they wake in the morning, after meals, before heading out of the house, before bath time and before bedtime 
  • Maintain a routine and make sure all care providers (e.g., grandparents, baby sitters) follow the same routine
  • Guide your child through the steps of how to use the toilet
  • Always go with your child to the potty or toilet and help them if they need it
  • For boys: have them sit down first to urinate and once they are able to do that, dad or an older brother can show them how to urinate while standing
  • For girls: teach them how to wipe from front to back
  • Both boys and girls will need help to wipe after a bowel movement
  • After every use of the potty or toilet, make sure they wash their hands
  • Praise your child when they have success or follow the steps
Toileting accidents happen! Remember to stay calm and not punish your child.

Preventing accidents

  • Make sure the toilet or potty is easy for your child to get to
  • Ask your child often if they need to use the toilet
  • Encourage your child to use the toilet even while you are away from home
  • Keep diapers on at night until your child can stay dry until they get up in the morning
Date of creation: December 5, 2012
Last modified on: December 29, 2014


1Raising Children Network. (2013). Toilet training. Retrieved from
2Manitoba Parent Zone. (2013). Toilet training. Retrieved from
3Kids Health. (2012) Toilet teaching your child. Retrieved from
4Caring for Kids. (2013). Toilet learning. Retrieved from