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There is no set age for when to stop using nappies, but children usually show signs they are ready to use a toilet or a potty between 18 months and 3 years.

Some of the following are signs that your child may be ready:

  • Your child notices when they are doing a wee or poo, or when they think they need the toilet
  • If they are able to sit down on a toilet or potty and get back up again
  • You notice that your child stays dry for 1-2 hours or longer.
  • Remember all children are different in learning this new skill, so be patient.

What you can do

  • Talk to your child about weeing and pooing so they understand what is happening
  • Look at books about toileting together 
  • Choose a time to start when there are few other changes happening for your child (moving house, new baby, starting nursery or preschool)
  • Talk to your child about the PANTS underwear rule *Click Here*
  • Encourage your child to sit on the toilet or potty so they get used to it 
  • Give praise to your child as they make progress
  • Try and notice your child’s signs of needing the toilet. This might be fidgeting, going quiet, moving to a certain part of a room.

    If your child doesn’t want to use a toilet or potty or keeps wetting their clothes, that is okay and a sign they are not quite ready. Try again a few weeks later.

    Your child may not always want to stay sitting on a toilet or potty even if they are showing signs of being ready. You can try to distract them using books or a favourite toy. Your child should only sit on the toilet or potty for a couple of minutes at a time.

    If your child was dry and is now wetting again it may be caused by one of the following:

  • Wee infection, constipation, or threadworm
  • Change in routine such as starting nursery or preschool, being on holiday or staying at a new place
  • Emotional change such as a new sibling or an illness or death in the family.

It is important that your child is dry during the day before moving on to not wearing a nappy at night. It may take some children longer to become dry at night. Try without nappies for at least a week before you decide they are not ready.

Things you can do to help:

  • Make sure your child has their last drink an hour before bed. It is still important to have 6-8 water based drinks during the day
  • Get your child to use the toilet or potty before bed
  • You could use a waterproof sheet to protect the mattress
  • Make sure your child knows where the toilet or potty is and can get to it in the night
  • Use a gentle night light so they can get to the toilet safely
  • Give lots of praise.

Who can help?

Child development: local contacts

  • Luton

    Call our Health HUB 0300 555 0606 (from 9-5) and ask for a duty health visitor.

    Parentline - 07507 331886

    You can also consider free online Solihull approach training, which is designed to help you recognise emotions in yourself and your child that bring changes in behaviour, the learning is split into three sections: understanding pregnancy, labour, birth and your baby, understanding your baby and understanding your child.

  • Bedfordshire

    If you’re worried about your child’s development, call our Health HUB on 0300 555 0606 and ask for a health visitor or text a health visitor via Parentline on 07507 331456. You can also find out more about your child's schedule of development reviews here. 

    For young people with additional needs aged 11-19, our school nursing team is available to give confidential advice via text on ChatHealth, simply send a message to 07507 331450.

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