Information & Tips for Babies and Parents

Toilet Training

Quick Answers to All Your Concerns About Toilet Training!

Is there a certain age or season that I should start toilet training for my child?


  • If my child's pee intervals are not getting longer, is it all right to start after he is two years old? (Child's age: 2 years 1 month)
  • Is it true the training won't go well if it doesn't start at the right time? ( Child’s age:1 year 9 months)

Each child's bladder capacity differs, so there are some whose bladders are so sensitive, they feel an urge to go even when a little pee has accumulated. If the intervals are not longer than two hours, adopt a wait-and-see attitude for a while. Your child's biological system may be just one step away from full development. However, do try to start when he is between 2.5 and 3 years old. If training is started too late, it may hamper his progress as he may feel uneasy whenever he is not wearing diapers.

When and how should I start introducing him to the toilet?


  • I take him to the toilet sometimes, but there is no pee. (Child's age: 1 year 11 months)
  • He hates going to the toilet, and even throws tantrums when I try to make him go by carrying him there. (Child's age: 2 years 2 months)

Don't panic even if there is no pee during his first few toilet visits. The first step is to let him get used to the location. But if there is still no pee after a long time, the child may wonder why he is being taken to the toilet. Don't take him there on a whim, but try to estimate the time when he would have accumulated quite a bit of pee. Wait for signals like when he is being fidgety, or about 2 hours after changing his diaper. "Want to pee pee at the toilet?" Asking him encouraging questions like this will help him associate the word "toilet" with "pee pee".

When you find that your child dislikes his toilet visits, try to figure out the reason. Maybe it's because the toilet is dark, or he doesn't like the sound of running water, or the toilet seat is cold and unstable, etc. Go through a list of possible reasons until you find out the cause. You can also reassure your child by pasting cute stickers in the toilet or putting a trainer seat on top of the toilet seat. Stop the training for a while if he is still uncomfortable with the visits no matter what you do, and wait for him to display signs of wanting to go before restarting it.

He ends up playing when he's on the potty or in the toilet.


  • I put him on the potty, but he becomes excited because it's like he is riding on a vehicle. (Child's age: 1 year 7 months)
  • Once he enters the toilet, he starts playing around by pulling the toilet paper and turning the water on and off! (Child's age: 2 years 1 month)

Your child is still not able to understand that the toilet is a place for the elimination of body waste. You should not scold him for playing around, but since it's pointless for him to continue playing there, be quick to put an end to the activity. If he keeps repeating this every time, you may want to consider stopping the training for a while. During the training break, show him how his friends use the potty or toilet, or teach him what it means to be seated there with the help of illustration books or videos. However, while it's good to create a pleasant atmosphere to let him get used to the potty or toilet, it would serve no purpose if he views these books and videos as toys.

Why won't he tell me before he pees?


  • When I ask him "Pee pee?" every time he seems restless, he nods, but he would have already wet himself. (Child's age: 2 years 4 months)
  • We couldn't make it to the toilet in time. My child peed immediately after I removed the diaper. (Child's age: 2 years 1 month)

Your child could have nodded because he misunderstood your question as "Have you peed peed?" instead of "Want to pee pee?" He could be trying to tell you about the discomfort he is feeling after wetting himself, which means he has yet to reach the stage where he can tell you in advance when he feels the urge to go. However, it's still good progress if he tells you after wetting himself. Just keep talking to him about not just toilet training, but everything else as well!

There are also times when he may display signs of having an urge to go, but end up wetting himself before reaching the toilet. Even if he does that, try not to let your disappointment show. Instead, reassure him by saying, "It's out! That's good!" This is because not making it to the toilet in time isn't a failure to the child at all. On the contrary, the feeling of pee on his legs would make the child realise that the pee is coming out from his own body. It's also important to let him wear clothes that can be easily removed so that you can put him on the toilet seat immediately when necessary.

He stopped learning after he started to use the toilet for a while.


  • I've been diligently taking my child to the toilet and he has been able to use it properly. But lately it doesn't happen anymore, and he never tells me in advance either. (Child's age: 1 year 9 months)

If it seems like your child has been successfully using the toilet even though he is less than 2 years old, it's probably just good timing. In fact, the reason why he is not able to use the toilet as frequently as before is because the intervals between his pee and poo times are getting longer. Good timing and recognising that he has an urge to go is different. But you've cleared the first stage because your child is now used to the toilet!
Your child did not regress. Once he can understand that pee is being accumulated, he'll start to show signs of wanting to go and maybe inform you about it. Relax, don't rush the process, and just wait and see how things go!

He tends to wet himself when he is engrossed in play.


  • My child denies having peed when he is asked, even though he has done so. Why did this happen when he was able to tell me in advance for a while? (Child's age: 2 years 6 months)

After your child informs you about his urge to go a few times, your first reaction may be to stop using diapers immediately, but always remember that toilet training is an ongoing learning process. If your child finds something more fun to engage in, the urge to go naturally takes second place. Telling you "No" when he has actually peed isn't a sign of rebellion. Your child is probably thinking, "Who cares about that?" If this happens, just let it pass. Even if you asked your child, "Why didn't you tell me?", he wouldn't be able to explain himself properly. Instead, he would have the impression that he has just been scolded!

Also, if you keep taking him to the toilet because you don't like him wetting himself, he may end up suffering from pee frequency or cease telling you even after he has wet himself. Just wait for him to inform you, and give him an encouraging nod after he is done at the toilet. This way, you'll encourage him to want to tell you when he needs to go in advance, and also motivate him to want to use the toilet. You've been making great progress so far, but keep in mind that he also could easily go back to what he was before!

He tries to hide himself when he wants to poo.


  • My child tells me when he wants to pee, but does not do so when he poos, so he just poos in his diaper. I'm also concerned because he tries to hide behind curtains every time he feels like he wants to poo. (Child's age: 2 years 10 months)

Unlike pee, a child cannot pass motion without a bit of straining, so there are some children who will only poo in the place they feel most comfortable in. Perhaps your child is hiding behind curtains because he feels embarrassed to be seen by others and is not able to concentrate on the act. You can try taking him to the toilet as soon as he starts straining, but do not forcibly take him there as this could make him feel tense. It could make him stop his bowel movement as a result. Simply wait a while until he is finished, clean him up, ask reassuringly, "Let's try it at the toilet the next time, okay?" and let this matter rest for the time being.

He could also be hiding because he was harshly scolded for pooing in his pants before. If something like that has happened before, tell your child, "It's out? That's good!" the next time he poos. This would help him to relax and make him feel good about the action.

Can I go back to diapers only during outings?


  • My child is almost fully toilet trained, and is not wearing diapers now, but I still feel uneasy about going out without diapers. Can I go back to pants diapers again only during outings? (Child's age: 3 years)

For a start, it may be more reassuring to go back to diapers during outings. It doesn't make the training any less thorough. However, don't assume everything will be all right because your child is wearing diapers. Instead, encourage him to have the habit of going to the toilet just before going out. Practise doing this just before your outings.
Also, check in advance where the child-accessible toilets are at your destination. When it's almost time for your child's regular toilet visits, confirm the location of the toilets and ask your child tactfully if he wants to pee.

He doesn't tell me he needs to pee anymore after his younger sibling is born.


  • We almost made it through the training! But now he is not telling me in advance anymore until he has already wet his pants. I put in so much effort to complete the training before I give birth to my second child, but it all came to nothing. (Child's age: 2 years 9 months)

Right after your next child is born, your first child may revert to his previous, baby ways. This is because he is still not used to the fact that he no longer has his mum all for himself. Try to understand that he is trying to get your attention. Don't complicate matters by taking on an attitude like, "What's wrong with you?! You're the big brother/sister now, you know!"
Even if he only informs you after wetting himself, tell him, "Thank you for telling me. No wonder you're the big brother/sister. So different from a baby!" This way, you'll build up his self-confidence by making him feel good about himself. Also, once your younger child is asleep, lavish as much attention on your older child as possible. Once he realises that his mum still loves him as before, he'll go back to the way he was. Never think that your training has gone to waste. Your child's body development is making good progress, and he is definitely able to inform you when he feels the nature's call!

Why is it not advisable to scold him when he doesn't succeed?


  • Other children have already come off their diapers, but my child's toilet training keeps ending in failure. I'm beginning to think that perhaps scolding him sometimes would be more effective. (Child's age: 2 years 10 months)
  • If he wets his pants just after I've changed him, I become enraged and would shout at him in a loud voice. (Child's age: 3 years)

Unsuccessful toilet training could be due to the fact that your child's body is still in the process of development. Scolding him about something he can't do anything about will simply add stress to him and disrupts his training. As each child's pee control develops at a vastly different pace, you should not compare your child to other children and use that as a basis for scolding him. Also, the mum isn't responsible for the child coming off diapers late. In fact, it does not matter even if it's a bit late. He'll come off the diapers eventually, so please don't feel like you have to rush it!

Of course, when you are busy or not feeling well, you tend to get angry easily. However, you would probably feel like you've done something really bad immediately after that. Once you have calmed down after the scolding, focus on healing the emotional hurt that your child may feel by spending time with him.

Vetted by:
Maternity & Gynaecological Clinic
820 Thomson Road, Mount Alvernia Medical Centre, Block A #B1-01, Singapore 574623

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