Learning to Use the Toilet

Things You Can Do

Tips to Help Your Child Learn to Use the Toilet

  • Get a children’s book about learning to use the toilet and read it together.
  • Decide what words you’ll use for your child’s body parts, urine and stool. It’s best to use the correct terms, like “urine,” or common terms, like “pee” and “poop.”
  • Dress your child in loose pants that are easy to pull down and up, not clothes that snap at the crotch. Or use pull-up diapers or training pants.
  • Don’t start toilet learning when there are big changes, like moving, the birth of a sibling, changes in child care, a family trip or a divorce.
  • Make sure your child’s babysitters, relatives, child care providers and teachers follow your lead in toilet learning.
  • When you go on a car trip, plan to stop often.
  • When your child uses the toilet consistently, celebrate by letting him choose some “big kid” underwear. Put him in underwear during the day and take him to the bathroom often.
  • For more tips, visit or

If Your Child Isn’t Learning to Use the Potty

Ask your doctor for suggestions. Some child care and preschool programs require that children be able to use the toilet. But don’t rush your child just so he can go to child care. Find another program or wait a few months. If your child isn’t learning or can’t use the toilet because of a disability, find out about your child’s rights to be included in child care. Call Child Care Connection.

Be Patient with Accidents

Have extra underwear, pants, diaper wipes and plastic bags on hand at child care and on outings. Don’t punish your child if she has an accident. You can say, “That’s okay. Next time, try to let me know when you have to go so we can do it in the toilet.” If a child is stressed, accidents are more likely to happen.

At Night

Many children still need a diaper at night, even when they use the potty during the day. It’s common for children to wet at night until age 6 or 7. If a parent had a history of bedwetting, the child may also. Help your child not feel ashamed. To prevent accidents, don’t give your child liquids in the evening, and make sure he uses the potty just before bedtime.