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?

If you’re worried about your child’s development, call your health visiting team on 01525 631150 or text a health visitor via Parentline on 07507 331456.


Links and additional information

Bedfordshire children’s continence team

ERIC, the children’s bowel and bladder charity
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