Toilet training

Toilet / potty training

Using a potty is a new skill for your child to learn. It's best to take it slowly and go at your child's pace. Being patient with them will help them get it right, even if you sometimes feel frustrated.

When to start?

Most children are ready to start potty training between 18 months and 3 years of age. All children are different and it is important to wait until your child is ready. You might feel your child is ready to start potty training when you notice they:

  • can get on and off of the potty
  • can pull their clothes and underwear down
  • can follow instructions
  • know when they have a wet or dirty nappy and they tell you this
  • can stay dry for an hour or two
  • know when they are doing a wee and they tell you this
  • know when they need to do a wee or a poo and they may tell you this in advance

How to start?

You should not force your child to use a potty. If they are not ready you will not be able to make them use it. You may need to wait.

  • Choose a time when there are no big changes planned such as house moving or a new sibling arriving
  • Keep a potty next to the toilet and also nearby
  • Once you have chosen a time to start, swap nappies or pull-ups for pants
  • Encourage your child to sit on the potty regularly, particularly after meals and at any time you know your child normally does a poo
  • Encourage boys to sit down to wee. This helps them to empty their bladder properly and makes sure they can poo as well if they need to
  • Be prepared for accidents. Don't make a fuss if they happen. Do praise them when they succeed. You could try using a sticker chart.

Night-time potty training

  • Night-time potty training might take longer than daytime potty training.
  • If your child's nappy is dry or very nearly dry in the morning, they may be ready for night-time potty training.
  • Make sure that your child uses the potty just before bed and then make sure it is nearby in case they need to use it overnight.
  • If possible use a waterproof sheet and have clean bedding and pyjamas to hand.
  • If things aren't going well try again when they are older.
  • If you want more information see our bedwetting page

Potty training with a disabled child

Some children with a long-term illness or disability find it more difficult to learn to use a potty or toilet. 

The charity Contact has a parents' guide on potty training with a disabled child.

Visit the Contact website for further support and ways of getting in touch with other parents with a disabled child.

What to do when there are problems?

If after you start potty training, it appears that your child was not quite ready, go back to nappies/pull-ups and try again in a few weeks. If you have any other concerns about potty training, talk to your health visitor and/or GP.

Further information:

You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

All community pharmacies across England are required to be Healthy Living Pharmacies. This means that they are able to offer advice about a range of healthy living matters which includes eating a healthy diet. They can provide information leaflets and give parents/carers and young people more information about other organisations that might be able to also help them with healthy eating.

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.

Sound advice

  1. Visit a pharmacy if your child is ill, but does not need to see a GP.
  2. Remember that if your child's condition gets worse, you should seek further medical advice immediately.
  3. Help your child to understand - watch this video with them about going to the pharmacy.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns, or to the Community Paediatricians, or the child and adolescent mental health services.

 

Contact your local Health Visiting Team:

Bradford Health Visitors or call - 01274 221223

Wakefield Health Visitors or call - 01924 310130

Craven Health Visitors or call - 01423 544265

Leeds Health Visitors or call - 0113 843 5683

Calderdale Health Visitors or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

Kirklees Health Visitors or call - 030 0304 5555 (local rate number)

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

  • Breastfeeding, weaning and healthy eating
  • Exercise, hygiene and safety
  • Your child’s growth and development
  • Emotional health and wellbeing, including postnatal depression
  • Safety in the home
  • Stopping smoking
  • Contraception and sexual health
  • Sleep and behaviour management (including temper tantrums!)
  • Toilet training
  • Minor illnesses

For more information about what Health Visitors do: What does a health visitor do?

School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5-19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and/or emotional health needs.

 

Contacting the School Nurse

Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse – telephone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.

There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.

Contact your local school nursing team:

Bradford School Nurses01274 221203

Wakefield School Nurses01924 310130

Leeds School Nurses - 0113 843 5683

Calderdale School Nurses030 3330 9974 (local rate number)

Kirklees School Nurses0300 304 5555 (local rate number)

Sound Advice

Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.

They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:-

  • encouraging healthier lifestyles
  • offering immunisations
  • giving information, advice and support to children, young people and their families
  • supporting children with complex health needs

Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

All children should be registered with a GP. Anyone in England can register for free with a GP surgery. You do not need proof of address or immigration status, ID or an NHS number.

How to find your local GP.

Sound advice

You have a choice of service:

  1. Doctors/GPs can treat many illnesses that do not warrant a visit to A&E.
  2. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about visiting the GP or going to a walk in centre

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Please note, the online version of NHS 111 is only recommended for children over the age of five. If your child is under five years old, please phone 111.

NHS 111 can also direct you to your nearest urgent treatment centre (minor injuries unit or walk-in centre).

Find your local urgent treatment centre.

When to visit an urgent treatment centre.

Sound advice

Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as:

  • loss of consciousness
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • major trauma such as road traffic collisions

If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to A&E and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about going to A&E or riding in an ambulance

This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across West Yorkshire with consent from the Hampshire development groups.