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Learning to use the toilet

Nurture Nursery’s Tips for the Toilet

and... when should you bring your child to nursery in pants?


Some very important facts to keep in mind

Some children learn to use the potty at a surprisingly young age and some take longer than most:

For the record… the average age for a child to be potty-trained (in the day) is between two and a half and three years old.”  

(Usborne Guide to Potty Training)

It’s an individual process

Children have different sized bladders, attention spans, confidence levels, understanding and personalities. What works well for one child may not for another. Potty training is a little different for every child.

Resist the pressure.

Try not to listen to other people. All children are different and whilst one is interested and ready to focus on the potty another will be focused on mastering their speech, learning to be with friends or tackling the climbing frame. The right time will come.

Don’t rush in.

Your child needs to be at an appropriate level of development mentally, emotionally and physically to achieve a positive result.

Is your child really ready?

It’s worth being as sure as you can. (See our guide below and use our link to the NHS website above for details.)

If you find you’ve asked too much too soon you could both find it more stressful than it needs to be. Things may take even longer as a result.

Keep this in mind.

If your child is tired, poorly or just having a bad day they may have more accidents. Accidents will happen, keep calm and carry on.

What if it’s not happening?

If things get really tough, consider stopping. Leave it for a month or two it can make all the difference.


Start at home and give your child time to build lots of confidence before thinking about taking things outside the home.

Going out

When first venturing out, talk positively to your child about using the potty or new toilets. Have some practise runs and introduce them to toilets in places you may go before going nappy free.

Be prepared

Plan ahead – take the potty or think about where you will find toilets on route. Think ahead to give them time and avoid panic. Take whatever you need for clean-ups and changes.



Nurture Nursery’s Super Tips!

  • If you aren’t sure your child is quite ready for the potty then wait. Build up some simple conversation about it. Look at books, talk about it and have the potty around. Then try in a few weeks or months when you feel more certain. Later can be quicker too.
  • If possible, when starting at home leave your child pants free. This allows for quick fire seating on the potty and can really help in the early stages.
  • A child sized seat on the toilet is much more comfortable than wobbling on the edge of a gaping toilet. Make sure your child can put their feet flat on the ground when on a potty, or on a step if using the toilet. These things make children feel secure and at ease.
  • Put something fun on the wall such as a poster to talk about to distract your child. Distraction will help your child relax and that helps them go.
  • Try having some bubbles or a small windmill by the toilet/ potty. They are a good distraction and blowing uses muscles in the tummy area that may help your child to wee. Try blowing and feel the muscles you use.  A recorder or a whistle will work too; it’s just much noisier.
  • Give your child a fighting chance – put them in easy to pull up and down clothes, particularly when they are first using the potty at nursery. Zips, buttons, belts or skinny jeans require help, take time and cause accidents. Just track suit bottoms or leggings are best. Add pants once your child can get to the toilet reliably.







Coming to Nursery in Pants

We are more than happy to regularly remind children about using the toilet, to take twenty urgent dashes to the loo in a session, and to mop up and change children after accidents. It is all part of the process and something we do every day.

However, here are a few things to bear in mind before you decide to bring your newly skilled child to nursery in pants.


  • Using the toilet is not always the most prominent thought in a child’s mind at nursery. It is tricky tearing yourself away from an exciting activity at the bottom of the garden in time to get to the toilet when you suddenly realise you are desperate. Then you need time to get clothes undone and negotiate the potty. It is a big ask when you are only 2 or 3 years old - especially if you are a bit anxious about it anyway. Children need to have fairly good control before they can do this. So it is wise to give your child some time to gain proper confidence at home before venturing to nursery in pants. That way they avoid any feelings of failure that can occur if they are continually unable to make it to the toilet in time.


  • Some children want their nappy off once they have their fancy new pants. They want to wear them to nursery whether they have gained control or not. Don’t worry. We don't want to crush anyone's enthusiasm, so we can just work that situation out together.


  • You will need to show your child our toilets and help them go for the first time. It can be scary with someone other than a family member.


  • It’s always worth taking your child to the toilet at the start of each session. This lets them relax and have time to settle into their play before they need to think about having a wee again and we can take it from there.


We will do everything we can to support you and your child through this period.

Good luck!

They all get there in the end.