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. Your child may be really quick to learn or take a little longer. This is normal.

Dive Deeper

Where Do I Start?

Start by talking to your child about weeing and pooing so they understand what is happening. They have probably seen you using the toilet and may have started asking questions themselves.

You could look at books about toileting together, the library have books you can borrow.

Choose a time to start when there are few other changes happening for your child. Events like moving house, a new baby arriving or starting nursery or preschool, can be tricky for your child. Trying to potty train at the same time may be too much.

Encourage your child to sit on the toilet or potty so they get used to it. You could do this in the morning when they get dressed or as they are getting ready for the bath or shower. Explain what the potty is for and how to use it.

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. As potty training progresses you will start to notice the signs!

Remember to give lots of praise to your child as they make progress. Mistakes and accidents will happen and that is ok too. Go at your child's pace.

Talk to your child about the PANTs underwear rule.

Take a look at this video of a parent sharing their experience of potty training.


Common Issues

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.

Take time to get back on track. If you are worried contact Just One Number and a member of the team will be able to offer advice and support.

Night Time

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.

Steps to follow

  • 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.

If your child has additional needs it might take longer for them to master using the toilet or extra support may be needed.

Read more about toileting


ERIC's Guide to Potty Training


Toilet Picture Steps - Boys


Toilet Picture Steps - Girls


Who can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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