Signs it’s time to start toilet training

When to start toilet training | Mum's Grapevine

Many mums have mixed emotions when it comes to toilet training. You might be excited about your little one going into big kid undies – yay to no more nappies. But when is the right time? And if your kiddo’s not ready, will you be making their toileting journey even longer by starting too soon? Not to mention all the cleanup.

Luckily, there are some signs that your tot might be ready for the big bowl.

Leading toilet training expert, Diane from Brolly Sheets, has shared with us her top ten points for what to look for when deciding when to start toilet training.

1. Are they the right age?

While all kids are different, generally you can expect girls to be ready around 2 years of age and boys a bit later. But some tots might start showing signs from 18 months of age, or others won’t be interested until a bit later. Don’t feel pressured – watch your child and work at your own pace.

2. Are they staying dry for at least 2 hours at a time?

Babies are born with zero bladder control – what goes in pretty much must come out. That’s why, when you think back to those newborn days, your bub’s nappy would be wet again almost as soon as a dry one went on. But as they grow, they gradually develop the ability to hold on. When their nappy stays dry for a couple of hours, it’s a good sign they’re storing wee in their little bladders.

3. Are they interested in big kid undies?

Many tots start to notice the difference between their nappies and your underwear. Or maybe they already have their own knicky noos and are keen to wear them. When they’re interested in getting out of nappies and into big kid undies, that’s half the battle done.

4. Do they show an interest in the toilet?

They might still be in nappies, but most kids know all about the toilet well before they sit their own tushie on one. You might find they want to follow you into the toilet even more than usual, flush the toilet after you’ve gone or maybe they see other kids at daycare using the toilet and want to copy them. It’s all part of learning.

When to start toilet training

5. Can they pull their own pants up and down?

Going to the toilet isn’t just about bladder control. Your poppet will need to be able to pull their own pants up and down so they can self-manage when nature calls. Nappy pants and elastic waistbands are a great way to encourage this and practice, even if they’re not ready to make the big leap yet.

6. Can they understand simple instructions?

As the name suggests, toilet training involves teaching. So it’s important your munchkin can follow simple instructions, such as washing their hands, when asked. It will make the whole process go a lot smoother.

7. Is the time right for you and the family?

Toilet training isn’t just about your tiny tot – it affects the whole family. You need to be ready too. So pick a time when you can dedicate a bit of effort to the training and your tyke is settled into a good routine. Starting just before a sibling is born or before a holiday may not be a good idea.

8. Do they prefer to be clean and dry?

As your toddler becomes increasingly aware of their bodily functions, they might realise that a wet or soiled nappy is not the nicest thing. Some mums switch to lower absorbency nappies to help their kiddo ‘feel’ the difference. Although there’s not a nappy in the world with enough absorbency to take away the discomfort of a number two, so even if you don’t switch, they’ll still notice the difference.

9. Do they tell you when they are wet or dirty?

It’s not just your bambino’s bladder control that gets better with age. As they grow, their ability to communicate is also rapidly improving. So when it comes to toilet time, you might find they start telling you when they’re wet or dirty. It’s a clear indicator that they know what their body is doing and a great chance to tell them to start thinking about how they feel before they actually go. And then to start telling you when they need to go. It makes the toilet dash when the nappies are off much easier.

10. Are they physically aware of doing a wee or a poo?

You might find that the moment nature calls actually changes your munchkin’s behaviour. They probably stop playing and make a noise or pull a face when they’re doing a wee or poo. You might even notice them start to hide in corners or wardrobes (especially for poos). This shows they are aware of what their body is doing. It’s then a small step from hiding in a closet to do a poo to heading to the toilet.

And when it comes time to say goodbye to the nighttime nappy, take the hassle out of those little accidents with Brolly Sheets waterproof sheets.

6 essentials for toilet training …


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Diane Hurford is a toilet training expert and mother of two. She’s also the founder of Brolly Sheets – a one-stop-shop for toilet training and waterproof bedding products. Brolly Sheets has always been about making life a little bit easier for Mums and Dads. What started with just one product has now grown into a range that provides waterproof bed protection for the whole family.