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A mother and her 2 toddlers getting ready to go outside

potty training troubles? the truth on how it really is and how to cope

3 minutes


Potty training can be a bit of a minefield. Should you wait until they seem ready, or try to get things moving before they start nursery? And if your little one is taking a bit longer to potty train - should you be worried?

Stay calm when potty training

When it feels like you’re getting nowhere with potty-training, it can be very stressful - and not to mention messy, if ‘accidents’ keep happening. But it’s really important to stay calm - this is a big change for your toddler and can be stressful for them too.

‘We felt we were doing really well with Finn but then he started regressing, which was so annoying,’ says dad, Tom. ‘But we discovered that it could mean he was feeling emotions he couldn’t express, so we just took a really gentle approach. It took a good few months but eventually he was back on track.’

Regression could also be a sign that they’re not ready yet, so consider holding off and trying again later.

How to know when to start

Most people start potty training between 18 months and three years old, with the average age being 27 months. But more important than their age is what signs they are showing.

For instance:

  • Do they show they are uncomfortable in a wet nappy?

  • Do they tell you when they are doing a wee or poo?

  • Are they showing an interest in the toilet?

‘Ethan wasn’t showing any signs of being ready to potty train, but we found a library book about a little prince who learnt to use the potty and he loved it,’ says Cherry. ‘Luckily this was in the middle of summer so I set aside a weekend where we stayed at home and he was running around with no clothes on. I got the potty out and suggested he try using it any time he needed a wee. Whenever he did and me and my husband would really heap the excitement and rewards on, and he loved it! We then bought him some Paw Patrol pants, which was the icing on the cake, and it was pretty smooth-sailing from there.’

Make potty training fun

Toddlers often need incentives to do new things, but there’s a range of ways you can make potty training something that seems exciting for little ones. For instance:

Create a reward chart

Each time they use the potty they get to add a sticker, and when they reach a certain amount, they’re allowed a treat.


Children often love racing and chasing, so each time they need a wee, race them to the potty


Let them make the potty their own by decorating it with stickers, or perhaps have a special toy that is just for potty time, to distract them or ‘talk’ to them about their new accomplishment!

And finally - good luck! With plenty of patience (and spare pants always to hand) you will get there in the end.

For more tips and advice on toddler milestones, read our wide range of articles on everything from toddler teethbrushing to encouraging your baby to talk.

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