Potty Training: How To Tell If Your Child’s Ready, Tips & Getting Started

Toddlers will be ready for potty training at different ages. There’s no exact age a child is ready, some are ready at 18 months, others anywhere up to 3 years or older. And usually, it’s we as parents that have to be ready, not your child!

Marnie is my third child in four years so I am more than familiar with potty training, and I’ve learnt a few tricks along the way about what works, and what doesn’t. You need to look for signs that your own child is ready for potty training before you start, regardless of their age. If they’re not ready, it won’t work. Simple! All my girls have been just over two years of age when we started potty training, and always in the warmer months which is easier for all the washing and for walking around in undies!

Around two years of age kids become incredibly switched on, paying attention and listening to everything you say. They are much more clever than we give them credit for. Both my older girls now 5 an 6 were toilet trained in about 3 days. HOW!? I just stuck to our routine and it clicked for both them by Day 3. So I planned the exact same strategy with Bub Number 3: Marnie. Also a Leo: stubborn, determined and very independent.

Many Toilet Training guides will suggest you decide between potty training on the toilet or the potty. Then you need to buy the equipment: the potty, or a potty training toilet seat, and a stool to reach the both toilet and the basin. Getting into the habit of learning to wash their hands afterwards is also part of the process.

seat on loo

We potty trained using the Ubbi 3-in-1 Toilet Trainer which I love because it’s a potty, toilet seat and stool all in one. Easy to use, easy to store and easy to clean. But there are many potty training seats available, including the step/seat which we have downstairs for convenience. I encourage you to involve your child from the start in choosing their own potty or toilet training seat when you go shopping.


toilet seat

I believe in potty AND toilet training at the same time. I encouraged my two eldest daughters to use both the potty and the toilet from the start – the first day on the potty then the toilet (with a seat, above) the next. Marnie loves using her ‘potty seat’ it because it’s her special seat, in pink of course, and she can decide if she wants to use it as a potty or on the toilet. With patience (and lots of water) she is becoming more confident with using it on the toilet, and loves flushing it by herself.

Benefits For Potty Training Using The Potty

There are many benefits for potty training on the potty: it is small and at their level, they don’t get scared about falling in, it doesn’t make any noise (flushing) so is much less daunting than a toilet, and it’s mobile so you can place it anywhere in the home. This is why it’s great to start the concept of toilet training on the potty.

Benefits For Potty Training Using The Toilet

By using the toilet itself, you can train your child to go to the toilet at home, and then they’ll know how to use the toilet wherever you go; friend’s houses, the local pool, shopping centres and so on. Taking a potty with you isn’t always practical, so being able to use the toilet itself is a huge advantage. It will relieve you of the anxiety of leaving the house while your potty training, knowing that your child is learning to go to the toilet on ANY toilet.  Do not leave it too long to introduce the toilet to your child or they may become scared or refuse to use it.

marnie looking toilet

How Do You Know If Your Child Is Ready?

Children will be ready for toilet training at different ages. There’s no exact age a child is ready to say goodbye to the nappies forever. My eldest two were ready around two years of age, some children may be ready at 18 months, others anywhere up to 3 years or more. You need to do what you suits you, your child, and your family. But think of the money you’ll save on nappies!

Children show signs of being ready if they:

  • tell you (or shows obvious signs) when they have done a poo or wee in their nappy
  • leave the room or hide behind the couch to do a poo
  • is becoming generally more independent when completing tasks, ie. can put shoes away, find their own drink bottle
  • can talk, either simple words to say they need to go to the toilet or full sentences
  • begin to dislike wearing a nappy, perhaps trying to pull it off when it’s wet or dirty
  • can pull their own pants up and down
  • can follow simple instructions, such as ‘Give the ball back to Mummy’

marnie potty t

Starting Potty Training

Before we start potty training we talk about it within the family for a week or so, and rather than shutting the door when we use the toilet we allow them to come to the toilet too, to see how it works.

I choose a few days when we don’t have any appointments so we can concentrate on potty training at home. I buy lots of new undies and let my daughter choose her own ‘big girl’ undies. Remember to make it fun, and keep using terms like ‘big girl/boy’ and ‘no more yucky nappies’.

I make sure we have at least 20 pairs of undies to get started, (you can usually get packs of 8 or 10 at most department stores). It sounds like a lot, but in the first few days of potty training you may go through up to 8-10 pairs a day, so get prepared and buy a lot so you’re not washing all day and night.


We also buy a new water bottle, a tip I picked up from reading an online potty training guide. This is part of the process because you need to encourage your child to drink LOTS of water the first few days so they need to go often. Getting a new water bottle makes it exciting, new and fun for your child, rather than just using one you already have.

I also draw up my own little Reward Chart for stickers. We buy a new book of stickers and every time she uses the potty or toilet, she gets a sticker. Five stickers in a row and she gets a reward, like choosing a book or her own TV show, a smartie, going to the playground or ‘special time’ with Mummy (alone).


Day 1 to 3

Ask your child frequently, ‘do you need to use the potty?’ ‘do you need to do a wee now?’ and remind them to keep their undies dry. Saying things like ‘big girls keep their undies dry’ and ‘don’t get your nice new undies wet’ helps keep them focussed. This is why staying at home helps, because you can concentrate on getting them to the toilet or potty quickly without any distractions. Keep saying you’re ‘so proud’ of them and that they’re a ‘big girl/boy now’ – it really helps.

If they start to do a wee in their undies, don’t worry, just pick them up as quickly as you can and put them on the potty or toilet. Even if they have finished, it helps them to realise they MUST do their wee in the toilet or potty, NOT in their undies. It really does work! Keep offering them a drink of water so they need to go again. Children have tiny bladders, so they will need to go again within the hour if you keep this up.

marnie stool

The key is not to push or pressure your child, try to stay positive and let them learn at their own pace with LOTS of encouragement. When she has an accident, I try not to worry too much or show that I’m disappointed. Just say things like ‘that’s OK, remember to tell Mummy next time’ and ‘don’t worry we’ll do it in the potty next time’ and to ‘keep your new special undies dry’.

Reinforce your pride that they are becoming a ‘big girl/boy’ and you’re ‘so proud’ of them and ‘not a baby anymore’. They LOVE this encouragement.

marnie flushing smiling

It does take a LOT of patience and determination. Though it may not feel like it at the time, it’s such an amazing time for the both of you. If you find your child is getting upset or you are making no progress by Day 3, then stop and try again in a few weeks’ time. There is no point getting yourself stressed and upsetting yourself and your child, potty training like this simply won’t work and will be too difficult to keep it fun and positive.

Try to enjoy the moment and treasure it. Such a huge milestone – your baby is growing up!

What are your potty training tips? I’d love to hear what worked for you!


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