How do I get my child out of nappies / diapers?

Top potty training tips

By Alexandra Smith

This is a child-led approach to potty training which you will hopefully find useful for some ideas on what will work for you and your child.

You may realise your son or daughter is ready to start potty training when:
  • Their nappy is dry for long periods at a time or throughout the night.
  • They seem to be aware of when they need a wee or poo and may get anxious at this time.
  • They're interested in what you are doing in the bathroom!

'Was that you or the dog?'
Potty training at home:

Have a potty around from an early age so your child recognises it and doesn't see it as new or scary.

If you've noticed that your child likes privacy when filling their nappy, create a 'potty corner,' where your child can go to. This could just involve putting a potty on the floor behind the arm of a sofa or you may want to add a doll or teddy on a toy potty too. This novelty may appeal to your child.

Praise your child when they use the potty or give them a small reward- like a sticker or time to paint (if that is an activity that they enjoy). Creating a potty song may also help.

What you may need.

It's almost unavoidable that wee or poo is going to get on your stuff so it's easier if you have wipeable furniture and wooden floors or cheap mats to lessen the damage.

Keep a towel, changing mat and baby wipes handy (learning to wipe themselves is another challenge).

Dedicate some time every day where your child will have their nappy off and extend this until it's all the time they're at home.

You may find it easier at first for your child not to wear clothes on their bottom half then later introduce knickers or shorts they have to pull up and down themselves.

Let your child wet themselves a few times without a nappy on or they may not understand why they need to use a potty (most nappies are so absorbent it may not have bothered them to wet themselves before).

When your child does wet the floor or something else do tell them you're not happy about it and ask them to 'Put it in the potty next time.' They need to know it's inconvenient but try not to upset them otherwise they may associate negative feelings with using the toilet (which can create constipation in later childhood).

If you see the signs that your child needs a number one or two (crouching, crossing their legs or holding their front), remind them to sit on the potty because they may forget.

Empty potty contents in to the toilet then rinse the potty out with the shower or bath taps. You may want to line the potty with toilet tissue so nothing sticks! Pretend to enjoy this task as you need to give your child the impression they've done a good thing by using the potty.

'That special seat was £36 so you'd better use it!'
Toilet training:
You paid how much?

You may like to buy a step and a small toilet seat for your child so he or she is not scared of falling in or off the toilet.

Let your child sit on the toilet to try to use it or even just pretend to use it to get used to the idea for real. It may help if they see you using the loo unless that seems weird.

If you have conveniently located facilities then the jump from potty to toilet will be easier (or you may not even need to do the potty part!).

If your loo is not so handy then you may need to wait until your child has mastered the potty and can tell you when they 'need to go' in advance.

'He'll just have to wear his PE kit.'
Outings or school:

Always have a spare set of clothes available for children (for so many reasons).

Get your child to use the toilet just before they leave for an outing.

Know where the toilets are when you're out and keep some spare nappies around in case your child can't hold it or if there's a queue and they can't wait.

Visit the toilets while you're out and get your child to try to use them so they're less likely to wet themselves later (you may like to use store brand pull on nappies for these occasions).

'I was dreaming about the sea.'
Dry-night training:

Use a plastic sheet or thick towel under your child's normal sheets.

Try to achieve dry nights when you know your child is actually capable of staying dry all night.

Avoid drinks just before bed.

Get your child in to the habit of using the toilet (and brushing their teeth) before they go to sleep and when they wake up.

Don't despair.

If you've literally tried everything then visit your GP to find out if your child has a urine infection or other issue which can be resolved.

We hope you find these ideas useful.  Please add any more tips or further questions you may have in the comments box.

Keep Reading: Tips for Tackling the Terrible Twos

© This article and its photo(s) are the property of Alexandra Smith. Only use or reproduce with permission.

Disclaimer: These tips are created from lessons I have learnt during my own experience.  With regard to the content and advice on this blog, Alexandra Smith makes no representations or warranties about its accuracy, reliability or suitability for anyone. Any reliance you place on the blog or its content is at your own discretion and in no event will Alexandra be liable for any loss, damage or injury in connection with your use.


  1. Im going to try the toilet before bed and when she wakes in the morning, hopefully then we can master during the day. I have also been thinking a novelty toilet seat as she won't use the one i have. Another great article :)

    1. Thank you ;-) I'm so glad it's helped. Writing it has helped me work out what I'll do next with my daughter (she's only just mastered the potty at home part). If you come up with any more ideas, please let me know :-) x X