Getting ready for toilet learning

Learning to use the toilet occurs between 18 months and 4 years of age. Beginning too early before connections between brain, bowel and bladder are made may cause anxiety and stress. Watch for signals to make this milestone smooth and successful.

Why do it?

  • Sometime between 18 months and 4 years of age, a child will start showing signs they’re ready to learn to use a potty or toilet.
  • Toilet learning will happen more easily if you wait until you see any of these readiness signs:

    • being dry for an hour or two
    • an interest in watching others go to the toilet
    • talking about toileting
    • knowing when they need to go
    • knowing how to hold on.
    • Connections between a young child’s brain, bladder and bowel need to be made before they can learn to use the toilet independently. Trying to hurry the process before the child is mature enough may be a waste of time.

How to do it

  • Wait until the warmer weather. Summer clothes are easier to get on and off, and doing any extra laundry is easier in dry weather.
  • Toilet learning is best tried when a family is settled and there are no big changes planned, or dramas going on in their lives.
  • Let your child play ‘sitting on the potty’ with or without clothes on. Teddy and other toys can ‘practise’ too.
  • Use the correct language. They will benefit from having the words they’ll need for naming their body parts and what they do.
  • Watch your child for signs they need to go to the toilet.
  • Praise efforts and achievements.
  • Expect accidents.
  • Stay relaxed and avoid shaming them as this can have a negative effect on the child’s learning and self-esteem.

Using more te reo Māori

Te reo Māori English
Toilet seat
Toilet paper
Me haere koe ki te wharepaku You'd better go to the toilet
Kia tika te noho, e te tau Sit properly, my darling
E mimi Have a wee
Haramai, e te tau Come here, my darling
Kei te mākū koe? Are you wet?
Kaua e tangi Don’t cry
Kei te pai koe You're okay
He aha tēnā haunga? What’s that smell?
Kei hea ngā muku hei horoi i tō kumu?
Where are the wet wipes to clean your bum?
Kua mā katoa koe ināianei You're all clean now
Tō kakara hoki! You smell lovely
Ka pai koe Well done you
Homai he kihi Give me a kiss
Koia kei a koe! You're awesome alright!