The 4 stages of toilet training

The 4 stages of toilet training

For parents and little ones, toilet training is one of the earliest formative phases. But despite society saying it can be done in a mere few days, it’s not always so cut and dry. If you’re ready to dive into the toilet training world and are looking for guidance, we’ve put together a quick guide on the different stages you might come up against. 

Stage one – play

First off the bat is play – and at this age, children learn best through exploring, sensory learning and fun. During this phase, your toddler will be introduced to the concept of toilet training. You might like to pop them on the big kid’s toilet, include them in your toilet visits and introduce them to a toilet. There’s a number of ways you can include toilet training in your child’s day to day life. This can include: 

  • Reading books about toilet training – reading stories about the process is an amazing and formative way to introduce your kid to using a toilet. You might want to find books with fun pictures, a simple story and great text that piques your toddler’s interest 
  • Watching educational toilet training videos – you’ll find fun cartoons, cute songs and kid-centric videos on YouTube that will show your toddler how to use the toilet 
  • Playing toilet with toys – use your toddler’s toys to show them how to use the toilet. Using dolls or stuffed animals, you can let them pretend to use the toilet like a big kid  
  • Let your toddler watch your in the bathroom – leaving the bathroom door open while you go to the toilet is one of the best ways to help your toddler become familiar with using the toilet. Let them watch you use the toilet, wash your hands and flush the toilet 

Stage two – practice

Once your toddler is familiar with the process of using the bathroom, it’s time to start setting the skills in motion! At this stage, your toddler will show signs of toilet training readiness, including:   

  • Pulling their pants up and down 
  • Letting you know when they’ve soiled their diaper 
  • Asking you to change their diaper after going 
  • Showing an interest in the bathroom  

This is an exciting phase! When your toddler begins to indicate they’re ready for this new phase, start taking the time to help them practice the different steps! 

Stage three – learning

Now that your toddler is ready and demonstrating excitement about using the toilet, it’s time to get them comfy in the bathroom! This is usually the longest phase of toilet training, because it requires a lot of growth! You’ll know they’re ready for this when they: 

  • Asking to wear big kid underwear, like our Reusable Daytime Toddler Training Pants.  
  • Using words to talk about the toilet 
  • Verbalising their need to go 
  • Holding their urine for extended periods of time  

You can enhance this phase by: 

  • Letting your child go once a day – start by helping them sit on the toilet or toilet once a day and get them comfy. It can help to do this first thing in the morning, or before or after bath time.  
  • Create a schedule – kids this age thrive on routine, so incorporating toilet training into the daily schedule is a great way to create habits. Try doing this by asking them to use the bathroom as the same time each day. 
  • Try training pants – going straight from diapers to undies can be a huge deal, so letting them use Daytime Training Underpants in between can make a world of difference. They work just like underwear (and feel as comfy) but provide more absorbency! 

Stage four – independent training

When you’ve made it this far, you and your toddler both deserve a pat on the back! Now the real work begins. This phase allows your toddler to become independent and tackle training on their own. They’ll become more used to their ability and you'll probably be able to start reducing your prompts and sticking to the routine.  

During this phase, your toddler might: 

  • Go to the bathroom without prompting 
  • Pull their pants up and down on their own 
  • Sit on the toilet by themselves 
  • Wipe themselves  

At this stage, you might find it’s time to start the night time toilet training. If your toddler continues to wake up dry, it’s a good indicator that they’re ready to ditch the diapers at night, too.  

Our Toddler Training Pants are available in a handy 2-pack, these clever pants are designed to help your kids transition from nappies to undies by letting them feel when they’re damp. They’re resistant to odour, easy to use and even easier to wash.

Helping to make toilet training a little less messy, and a little less stressy for the whole family. Check them out here.

Other helpful articles may be When is the right age to toilet train? or if your child is still in nappies, check out our Reusable Nappies 101 Guide.

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