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How do you begin potty training a toddler?

Potty Training Tips - How I potty trained my 2 year old

dinosaur potty messy mat

I should preface this post by saying that the most difficult part of potty training (in my opinion of course) is accepting that every child is different and that just because one child is dry and out of nappies at 18 months, it doesn’t mean that your child will be, so don’t feel pressured into doing anything, or worry if your child is not ready at the same time as others.

They all get there eventually!

This blog will provide some helpful tips for anyone about to embark on the potty-training journey. Here are some tried and tested things we did which ultimately made the transition from nappy to pants easy and meant there was not really much ‘training’ involved.

“But how do I know they’re ready?”

Wait Until They’re Ready, things such as telling you when they’re doing wees/poos in their nappies, or maybe they will even tell you they want to wear pants (this is what my daughter did), they may even ask to use the toilet/potty.

Let them know that everyone uses the toilet. The best way to do this is to let them go with you and to see that it is normal. If you don’t want them to go with you maybe just verbalise every time you go to the toilet and let them know that that’s what you do when you’re big. Also, encourage them to go on the toilet as well as the potty, you don’t want them to be afraid of the toilet!

Nappy Free Time. If you don’t already, try to incorporate some into your routine. We have always liked to do it after bath-time before bed. Not only is it good to let their little bums breath but also they will feel that it’s much nicer not having a nappy on. It’s also a good introductory way to potty training without the added stresses of getting pants/trousers up and down. One thing at a time!

SECRET TOP TIP #1 – When you start potty training, dress them in things that are easy to get off, such as leggings and t-shirts. You don’t want an accident just because it took so long to undo the romper, pull down the tights and unbutton the vest!
Wearing easy clothes meant it was easy for those quick pit stops!
It's all in the prep

Introduce the Potty early on, long before I ever considered properly potty training I introduced the potty and brought it out at "nappy free time", just so it was there.

I would also sit her on the potty from around 10 months old *on a potty mat I made to save my carpet!*, as I have experienced friend's children being so scared of sitting on the potty, so in the prep you can set them on the right road and journey and remove any chance of fear. It's one less thing to worry about!

SECRET TOP TIP #2 - My potty mats are excellent for catching all those inevitable drips, splashes, and spills on your carpets and can also make the potty a lot more of a friendly place to crawl and walk around.


Rewards and Encouragement.

I think rewards are good but clever rewards are. Giving sweets or treats every time they go to the toilet I found led to running out of sweets and also it's just unhealthy(!), but positive comments, hugs, letting them know how proud you are of them were much more fun for her and I and allowed our bond to grow. We also had sticker charts are also really good, you can make your own easily enough or you can buy them fairly cheap from eBay.

Power of encouragement and praise worked for us though, who doesn’t love to be told they are doing a great job? I would repeatedly tell her how proud I was of her and give her praise in front of others (like family and friends) and they all ended up joining in.

SECRET TOP TIP #3 – Take them to the shop and let them pick out their own pants and let them choose which ones they want to wear each day. It’s a nice little treat and it is getting them involved in the process.

Accidents Happen

If they are having lots of accidents, usually this means they probably aren’t ready, but the odd accident is expected. Getting frustrated or losing your cool will lead them to become fearful or stressed out by the situation.

Also if they are dry the majority of the time and have the odd accident to start with I think its good in some ways as its uncomfortable, so they will learn that it doesn’t feel nice to have wet underwear/clothes on which will motivate them not to do it next time or help them to learn when they really have to go.

SECRET TOP TIP #4 – We had friends who bought puppy training pads for the house, but we found these were expensive and not great for recycling, so this lead to us using a potty mat, but for the car seat, puppy pads were perfect.

Encourage them to hold it

If you are at home and they ask to go to the toilet/potty don’t make them wait for ages but maybe just say OK hold onto it or distract them for a moment. This way you are strengthening their bladder and letting them feel/acknowledge the feeling of holding on. When you go out it’s not always possible to get to a toilet immediately so they have to learn to hold on!

Don’t be afraid to go out – before starting properly training I had heard a lot of people say to stay in for a while. But staying in isn’t always an option especially if your child is a social butterfly and attends every club going like mine. It seemed to work out fine for us, although I have to say it is nerve-wracking at first and you will never ask anything as much as you ask your toddler if they need a wee in these first months. Of course just as you’ve queued up for 20 minutes, are the next person in line to be served, they will declare they need to go to the toilet and then you have 0.5 seconds to get them to one - don’t say I didn’t warn you.

SECRET TOP TIP #5 – My personalised wallets are great for keeping outfits together to quickly grab out of your nappy bag. Make sure you pack lots of spare outfits/pants just in case your little one has an accident (or two or three) whilst you’re out. 

Leave a Gap Between Trying 

If you start potty training and it’s not working out then stop. But make sure you give a good break 2-3 weeks before starting it up again. Don’t be consistently inconsistent with it as it will become confusing and frustrating for everyone involved.

SECRET TOP TIP #6 – Once they are out of nappies or when you first start, don’t just get rid of all the extra nappies you have. Regression is possible but also if they get a poorly tummy at any point you may have no option but to put them back in nappies! Always have a few spare ‘just in case’.


I thought that training at night would be much more difficult and so decided to continue putting her in nappies for bed. However, what I quickly found was that even if I put a nappy on her the sensation of going for in a wee in one was now strange so she would still hold it and be dry in the morning. This was a natural progression and actually happened almost immediately, even in the morning she will wake me to take to the toilet. So I purchased some training pants, which feel nicer than nappies but offer some protection just in case there is an accident through the night.

SECRET TOP TIP #7 – If you layer the bedsheets, for example, I have a terry cloth waterproof cot sheet, then a normal bed sheet, then another terry cloth bed sheet and finally a regular bed sheet. Accidents in the night happen, rather than having to change the bed in the middle of the night I can just whip off the top layers and its done. 

Hopefully, this has helped you at the start of your potty training journey, couple this with a potty mat and my nappy wallets and you should be set!

Feel free to let me know your journey on instagram at @bobbinandbumble


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