Clinic: 14, Sambasivam Street, Thyagaraya Nagar, Chennai - 600017, India       For information, call:    +91-44-28156405 / 64556070 , +91-9884790294   

Toilet training should be a fun and exciting experience for both you and your child. Remember, your child should feel in control of the process, not you. Take a slow, casual, matter-of-fact approach, and make it fun! Always encourage and praise your child.

When should I start toilet training my child?

In order for your child to develop control over her bowel and bladder, both her physical and mental development will have to be advanced enough. Her muscles must be strong enough to hold urine and faeces. Her muscles must do this when the brain transmits the appropriate signal. For this to happen, your child must be able to make the connection between inner sensations and the conscious need to pass urine or stools. You will know that your child is aware that she has a full rectum or bladder when she stops what she is doing and points at her diaper or tries to attract your attention by crying or shouting.

Do not begin training until your child shows signs that she is ready. Every child is different. Most are ready for training between two and two and a half years old (some as young as 18 months or as old as 3 years). Start at a time when you can spend a lot of time together - when your child is eager to please you and there are no major distractions or traumatic events in her life (new sibling, moving to a new home, etc.).

Your child is ready to learn potty skills when he or she...

  • Has bowel movements at about the same time every day
  • Can stay dry for a few hours, or wakes up dry from sleep
  • Can pull her pants up and down
  • Lets you know when she has soiled his/her diaper (likes to stay dry)
  • Can tell you she has to go to the bathroom
  • Wants to do things "by myself"
  • Enjoys washing her hands (like to be clean)

How do I teach my child to use the potty?

Once she has become accustomed to using the potty, the next step is to encourage her to use the lavatory. She may feel a little insecure because it is so much larger. In order to make her feel more secure and supported, use a specially designed seat that fits inside the toilet rim.

Once she has become accustomed to using the potty, the next step is to encourage her to use the lavatory. She may feel a little insecure because it is so much larger. In order to make her feel more secure and supported, use a specially designed seat that fits inside the toilet rim.

Introduce the potty in a casual way. Put it in a room where your child plays most often. The kitchen is a good place, so you can supervise. It will also encourage your child to use it more often if it is in plain view. Let your child play with it so she will get accustomed to it. Then show your child how it works. Once your child is used to the potty-chair, you can start to encourage use of it.

At the beginning of training, increase fluids to encourage practice. Encouraging practice will help your child learn the basic potty skills. In addition, you will want to make sure your child eats lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. You want to keep your child's stools soft to prevent withholding. When you see any signs that your child is about to go (passing gas, wriggling, holding crotch or telling you), quickly tell your child it's time to use the potty.

All co-operation with attempts at using the potty should be praised with words like, "What a big girl! Shruti is using the potty just like mommy"! Also, remember to praise your child for every successful potty use. This will help build self-esteem.

If you encounter problems...

If your child is reluctant or refuses to use the potty, try to encourage her by offering to read a story while sitting on the potty. If this still does not work, back off and do not push her.

You can try to leave your child's diaper off at the time she usually has a bowel movement (BM). Timing is an important factor in toilet training. If you sense that she has to do a BM (gas, for instance), take the diaper off right at the moment you see your child getting ready to do her BM. If you do catch your child before the BM occurs, then quickly take her to the potty and tell her that this is where the kakka goes. Hopefully if you catch your child at the precise moment, she will look for relief and let you guide her to the potty. If your child protests a bit, gently encourage and explain to your child that "she is a big girl now and mommy and daddy expect you to use the potty".

Remember, encourage and guide, but do not force your child to sit. If your child refuses to sit on the potty, then he/she is not ready. If your child pees and poops constantly in his/her underwear, then he/she is not ready. No big deal, try again in a month or so. This is normal!

Let your child take the lead. Your child needs to be in control of the process.

Withholding of Stools

It only takes ONE painful BM to cause your child to be frightened of using the potty, so at all costs, make sure his/her diet has sufficient fresh fruits, vegetables and juice. If your child has a painful BM only once while trying the potty, it could delay potty training for months. He/she will associate painful BMs with the potty and will refuse to use it. If you suspect that your child is withholding his/her stools, it is best to stop training and increase the fluids. Always call your paediatrician if you think your child is withholding. It can be serious if an impaction occurs. Tell your child at that moment, that he/she is not ready yet and that you will try again later.

Continue to play potty videos and read toilet learning books often to encourage regular use of the potty so your child will grasp the concept. Keep the potty-chair out and he/she will eventually shows signs of interest again. Remember, the keys to toilet training are patience, praise, encouragement (and a sticker on his/her chart to build self esteem and make the learning process fun).

Toilet training can get messy so be prepared and expect that there will be many mistakes. Your child is learning a very difficult skill. Clean up any accidents without anger or showing disgust. Do not make negative comments. Explain to your child that pee and poop go in the toilet. You should also empty any accidents in underwear or training pants into the toilet and explain to your child that he/he/she is a big girl now and this is where the poop goes. Try switching from diapers to training pants when your child does at least fifty percent of his/her urine or bowel movements in the potty. At night, you can use diapers until your child wakes up dry for a couple of days in a row. Remember, they are learning a very difficult skill. No one has ever said, "Toilet training is easy". Make the process fun and you will have happy memories to look back on.

The contents of this site ( are for informational purposes only. Nothing contained in this site should be considered or used as a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider (or delay seeking medical advice) because of something you have read on the internet.