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Potty Training

With more children wearing nappies for longer, what do we need to know about potty training, both at home and at nursery?

More children may be wearing nappies for longer as a trend towards later potty training continues. This, combined with the impact of the pandemic, is resulting in early years practitioners having to take more of a lead when it comes to toileting skills.


Ofsted found, in a report published in November 2020 on the effects of the pandemic, that some children who were potty-trained during lockdown had reverted to nappies. This occurred particularly among families where parents were unable to work flexibly. Providers also reported that, when they reopened, children were returning to nursery wearing nappies at an older age than they would usually expect.


When to start potty training depends on the individual child, but most are ready between 18 months and three years old. The timing has to be right for parents and carers because toilet training takes time, patience and can be messy!


The first stage of potty training is to recognise when a child is ready. Signs to look out for include:

  1. Pooing at least one soft poo four times a week.

  2. Staying dry for at least an hour and a half between wees.

  3. Showing an interest in the toilet.

  4. Following simple instructions.

  5. Being able to sit on a potty and get up again.

  6. Starting to show signs of awareness that they have done a wee or a poo.

We recommend keeping a chart of a child’s wees and poos in preparation for training. Placing some pieces of toilet roll in their nappy and checking it every half an hour can inform you how long they are able to hold their bladder and help the child make connections between releasing wee and feeling wet. A poo chart may reveal that a child has an underlying constipation problem, which a doctor can assess. Check out Angels Potty Chart you can download!

Potty training Chart
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Download PDF • 244KB




Delaying potty training can cause problems, including children becoming used to wearing nappies and losing the motivation to become clean and dry. It is much easier for a younger child, under the age of two, to try something new than when they are three-and-a-half coming up four and have a more fully defined sense of their own self and wants and needs, There tends to be more resistance the longer they spend in nappies. For those children who start school wearing nappies, it can result in them developing self-esteem and confidence issues. Added to that is the time lost playing and learning because they are away from their friends having their nappy changed.

It is important that practitioners know the signs of readiness. At Angels we feel confident to speak to parents about potty training, and how to promote a healthy bladder and bowel by encouraging good fluid intake and knowing the signs of constipation.


Children are often excited to stop wearing nappies as they like being more grown up. To boost your child’s enthusiasm further and help them to remember what to do when they need to go, try making potty training an exciting focus in your household.

  • Play with them and have their toys or dolls ‘use’ the potty.

  • Read stories about potty training, there are plenty available online. Or you could adjust your current stories to add lots of toilet time in (e.g. Little Red Riding Hood went to the loo like a big girl before going to see Grandma).

  • Take them shopping for pants and let them choose.

  • Get a potty training sticker book for them to collect stickers in every time they use it.

It can take more than one attempt to successfully potty train your child. Some children are ready at 18 months old while others can be 3 by the time they master it. If you’ve been trying for some time and there are still a lot of accidents, they may just not be ready. There’s nothing wrong with going back to nappies and trying again in a couple of months, as long as they’re fully potty trained well before they start school.


Just because your friend boasts that their child picked it up in a day, doesn’t mean you or your child are slow. Competing with other parents or children won’t help.


Remember that the job isn’t done once they’re going to the toilet by themselves every time, they need to be able to properly wipe too.


If you have any concerns about potty training at Nursery don't hesitate to ask a member of staff!

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