Top tips for potty-training

Time to crack potty-training

Rebecca Howard Dennis helps you to get the, ahem, job done


Potty-training: two words that can strike fear into the heart of even the most unflappable parent. But with a little planning, and a lot (and we do mean a lot) of patience – not to mention some all-important good timing – making the transition from nappies to knickers needn’t be stressful, for you or your little one.


Don’t rush to get your child out of nappies. Starting too early is the single biggest cause of problems (read: delay) when potty-training. Bear in mind that successful training hinges upon a child’s ability to firstly recognise that they need to go to the toilet, and then to hold on long enough to get there in time.

When we need to pee, sensory fibres in our bladder send signals up our spine to the brain, telling it that our bladder is full. However, these links between the spine and brain aren’t established until around two years of age. Add in the fact that the muscles that control a child’s bladder and rectum don’t mature until they’re around 18 months or older, and it soon becomes clear that toilet-training before the age of two may simply be asking too much.


In a straw poll, most parents said they start the process at about two and a half years, with the majority finding night-time training more challenging than teaching their child to stay dry during the day. Even children who master daytime potty- training easily can take months, or even years, to go through the night without needing a nappy. A recent report showed that, by the time they’re in reception class, 46 per cent of children are still wetting the bed at night – so night-time dryness isn’t a given by this age.

To help the process along,
experts advise spacing your
 child’s daily recommended
 six to seven cups of liquid
 over the first two-thirds of
the day, and to avoid any kind 
of caffeinated drink (we’re talking 
hot chocolate here, obvs) near bedtime. Caffeine before bed has been shown to stimulate the kidneys to produce even more pee. So stick to warm milk.


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