Dear Aunt Juniper,

My daughter is two and a half and seems to be showing signs of being ready to use a potty. She tells me when she needs a poo and has started taking her nappy off just before she does a wee. She is keener than I am, to be honest, but I can’t bury my head in the sand forever. I have bought some Peppa Pig knickers but other than that I have no idea what to do.

How do I make sure that the transition from nappy to knickers is as stress-free as possible for both of us?

From a slightly nervous first time mum.

Dear slightly-nervous,

I frequently get parents, often with their own knickers in a twist, contact me for advice and support with toilet training. Toilet training can be a hair pulling (you!), crotch grabbing (them!) and stressful experience for all, but it doesn’t have be endless wet carpets, stress and washing (maybe the washing for a little while longer!) that leaves you reaching for the Gin before lunchtime.

This is my simple, no bells or whistles guide, to help you and get your little ones to be potty perfect in no time.


Ask yourself this before you decide to ditch the nappies:

‘Is my child showing signs of being ready to start toilet learning?’

These signs typically start anywhere between 17 months and 38 months but anything outside of these ranges is perfectly normal also. Contrary to granny’s/mum’s/neighbour’s/insert own well-meaning adult’s advice, there is no right time to start nor does the time of year make it any easier or harder on you.

Many parents believe that the longer you wait the easier it is but if your child is showing signs and you put it off, it can mean you miss the boat.

If you take your child’s lead, there will be less stress and sogginess all round for everyone.

Remind yourself amidst the endless wet pants and stench of pee that they will not go to school the disco/college/on a date or get married in their nappy.

Signs that your little one may be getting ready:

They start to take an interest in your toilet habits; so let them see how it is done! Take them with you when you go to the toilet and tell them what you are doing and, most importantly, where it is going.

Their nappies are noticeably dryer when you change them or dry after a nap, showing that they are developing their bladder control.

They show awareness that they are peeing or pooping or they go off or hide to pee/poop.

They can tell you/sign to you they have done a pee or poop or come and get you to take them to the toilet or change their nappy.

They keep taking their nappy off or show discomfort that they are wet or dirty.

They show an interest in pants, ask to wear them or just put them on one day.

A child doesn’t have to be talking to use the potty. I have helped a couple of children that have had speech delay without any problems. If they show understanding and are able to communicate their needs to you in a non-verbal way they are good to go.


So you answered yes to the question above, your child is ready. Now it is time to get potty prepared!

My top ‘preparation potty’ tips are:

Take them to the shops and let them choose their own pants and potty. If they are proud of their pants they are less likely to want to get them wet. Buy double the quantity you think you will need.

Buy a good toilet seat. I highly recommend the Baby Bjorn one as it is adjustable to give a snug fit and is sturdy. Steps will also help your child to feel more secure and confident.

Have the ‘terminology talk’. Choose the words you and family are comfortable with for toilet, potty, willies and bums. Try not to snigger and remember these words will be used loudly and with much frequency in public places for years to come by your little ones!

Arm yourself with plenty of old clothes for the little one, trousers that you can get up and down easily, wet wipes, tissues, pants and carrier bags. Place these in every room in the house, car and buggy so they are in easy reach at all times!

An old towel or Pampers dry mat in the car seat and buggy are lifesavers when you go out.

Pick a time where you aren’t overly stretched with work/social/holiday commitments. If you are stressed it can be a nappy-mare.

Buy a new book that your child is interested in and keep this just for potty/toilet times.

A small potty or the Pottette are a must when out and about.

A good place to start is to encourage them to sit on the toilet or potty as part of their usual daily routine for example just before bath time or after a nap. Keep it light with no pressure but big them up for sitting on the throne.


Now is the time to go for it!

Try to remember the three Cs: calm, consistency and confidence. Children need all of these in bucket loads to get there.

Once the pants are on, keep them on! Consistency is important – having pants on one day and a nappy the next confuses them because they don’t know what the boundaries are. They need to know what is expected of them at all times.

You don’t have to stay inside for weeks at a time. Carry on with your usual daily routines to help take off the pressure and help your child feel secure. Do take plenty of spare pants, trousers, carrier bags, wipes and a mobile toilet such as the Pottette when you go out.

In my experience I find it best to put on pants or knickers and not let them streak naked. It allows them to experience what it feels like to be wet and it also saves your carpets/shoes/dog from getting a complete soaking!

Follow your child’s lead – you want them to take the initiative and realise they need to go. Wait until you can see signs they need to go and then gently take them.

If they have started to pee, take them to the toilet and encourage them to sit talking about what is happening.

Keep it all calm, light and positive.

If they sit on the toilet or potty but don’t produce anything still praise them for sitting and trying.

Remind them casually that the potty/toilet is there if they need it but don’t be tempted to nag and take them to the toilet every five minutes.

Never force a child to sit on the toilet or potty.

Once they have potty produced then praise, praise and more praise just not too loudly. Once I squealed in delight at a pee so loudly I made them jump out of their skin and nearly off the toilet!

False Starts

Accidents are unavoidable, they will happen when learning to use the potty and they are all part of the process. It is not normal to have the nappy whipped off and for them to get it in a day. Having accidents doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t ready or not getting it.

My top accident tips are:

  • Do exactly the same thing every time they have an accident.
  • Avoid asking why they had an accident. They probably have no idea why and it won’t help anyone.
  • Remain completely calm. Tricky when the carpet/new shoes/dog are covered!
  • Never scold/tell off/discipline a child for having an accident.
  • Take them to the toilet/potty and talk about what needs to go where.
  • Get them to help take off their wet things and put dry pants on with lots of talk about wet and dry.
  • You can never have too much toilet talk! It really helps them.
  • If after a few days they are having far more accidents than successes, it may well be worth parking it for a bit and coming back to it.

Good luck and happy potty perfecting!

Lots of love,

Aunt Juniper* xx


*On this occasion, Aunt Juniper was Kerry Secker from Kerry Cares Parenting.

Kerry Cares Parenting offers personalised and gentle advice to parents throughout the UK and across the globe. Kerry can advise and offer practical help with issues such as sleep, weaning, toilet learning and behaviour. She works with parents, respecting their values and wishes, to devise a solution that is gentle yet effective. Kerry is passionate that every child and family is beautifully unique and her advice truly reflects this. For more information please visit her website:


‘I always say this but download ‘Oh Crap! Potty Training’. It’s amazing. And her advice is not to prompt them all the time – wait for them to start going, THEN move to the potty so they make the connection quicker. Hope it helps.’

‘Try getting her to go naked for the first bit then commando, this definitely helps.’

‘I’d perhaps try leaving her without any bottoms on when at home and keep the potty at a safe distance. She might use it if she hasn’t got anything on at all. This is how we trained my eldest and he grasped it quite quickly.’

‘‪We read fun books about using the potty (Pirate Pete) and something that sounds bizarre: ‘Poo goes home to pooland’. It took a while, even tried letting him play on the tablet while on the potty.’

‘My LO was 3 at the beginning of Oct and he is not interested at all even though he has a big brother who he watches on the toilet. I genuinely think he cannot feel himself going for a poo, as even when he’s done one in his nappy he never mentions it. I think he is nearly ready as he is kinda aware of having a wee but I’m miffed as assumed that the 2nd ones learnt quicker! So maybe they are just not ready.’

‘‪That’s exactly the same situation I have on my hands. He is happy to sit in the big boy pants but won’t pop or wee unless it’s on himself. This morning he ran off and did his business and wasn’t phased at all….maybe he’s not ready?’

‘My main advice would be to ease off asking him,praise even he tries and doesn’t produce and try to encourage regular times to try into his daily routine ie before going out or pre bath. Consistency is super important here so once pants are on keep them on and deal with every single accident in exactly the same way. Every child is different so there are lots of ways to progress, i offer phone consultations ti advise with toilet learning, weaning, sleep and behaviour. please feel free to get in touch. Good luck!’ ‪

‘It’s hard knowing what’s the right thing sometimes! We also found that the chair style potty we had the second time (a Thomas one) helped!’

‘We tried with our son at 2 and a half and gave up as he wouldn’t sit on the toilet or a potty without it being a battle. We tried again when he was almost three and a half and he was dry within 2 days. It took us about 3 more months to get him to have a poo on the toilet. He’d wait till he had pull ups on then do it within 10 mins of them going on. Also he wasn’t ever interested in using a potty and was much happier on the toilet.’

‘Yesterday we went nappy-free for the first time. Darling daughter did 8 wees. 7 of them in her knickers (she did warn me she was about to do one, but I got about 2 seconds advance notice). The 8th wee went in the potty! Hooray, hoorah, great jubilation! Then she tried to tip it into the loo and tipped it all over the floor…..potty training day one, unmitigated disaster…..’

‘We are still potty training my twin girls: one got it within three days and happily takes herself off. The other is a different story, she needs not only constant reminding but also ‘right little wee before you can have pudding/TV/play in garden’. We treated them exactly the same in the training… Some get it fast and some don’t. Don’t get stressed about it. It’ll come in time.’

‘I should remember that they all get it in their own time but I’ve been potty training for weeks now, and there isn’t really any sign of improvement at all. I told him to do a wee and then we’d play with his toy trains – He won’t go to the potty unless he is told at least ninety times – I nip out of the room to get something and in the thirty seconds I was out he’d wet himself. That’s the third accident today. My mum insists that I should put him back in nappies and stop worrying about it until the new year – but i really wanted him toilet trained before he starts pre school.’

‘Have you read ‘oh crap potty training’? I found it really helpful. Addresses stuff like this. She recommends going commando until they crack it. x’

‪’Mine refused a potty, so we went straight to the toilet. And yes, if I ask my untrained twin she refuses to go. I physically pick her up and place her on the loo. We chat, she wees almost instantly. It’s not perfect but it’s better than cleaning up and she will get it. There’s no way I’d be going back to nappies.’

‘We’ve just started training my twin boys. We’re commando at home as we found that they just wee in pants as if they have a nappy on. One won’t use the potty but likes to stand in the bath and aim down the plug-hole! The other is a bit more erratic but has started to go out on the balcony or on the wooden floor for his ‘accidents’. He has used the potty a bit. We are using nappies for excursions but only until they’ll consistently safe/stop wees.’

‘Ugh. I’ve been potty training for 6 months. Kill me now.’

‘We had months of accidents with our boy,  MONTHS!’

‘We tried potty training at close to 2.5 and it was very clear my son wasn’t ready -I vividly recall him doing a massive poo on the kitchen floor and there was no indication from him that he knew what was going on, or that he was ‘meant’ to be doing something else, or that he should be letting me know about him needing to poo. So we waited a whole year until the next summer and it went well then, he got the idea of it quite quickly. He’s only had a few accidents, never really counted but maybe about 10?’

‘We tried potty training at close to 2.5 and it was very clear my son wasn’t ready -I vividly recall him doing a massive poo on the kitchen floor and there was no indication from him that he knew what was going on, or that he was ‘meant’ to be doing something else, or that he should be letting me know about him needing to poo. So we waited a whole year until the next summer and it went well then, he got the idea of it quite quickly. He’s only had a few accidents, never really counted but maybe about 10?’


Note: These are suggestions from members of Mummy’s Gin Fund based on experience and should not be treated as official advice. Any action taken is at your own risk. Always seek professional advice if you have any questions or concerns about any aspect of your life.

Always consult NHS 111, your GP, health visitor or A&E for professional medical advice.







Founder of MGF, Helen is a mum of four who spends way too much time on the interweb and not enough time in bed. She loves wearing her dressing gown, car boot sales and watching TV programmes featuring food. Her specialist subjects include 'how to overfill your car boot' and 'how to avoid dusting'. Follow her at Twitter: @Ginfund, Facebook: @MGFund, Instagram: @mummysginfund and online: