Ask Rebecca: How do I help my child transition from a potty to a toilet

Recognising the skills required to master using the toilet compared to using the potty is half the battle, says Rebecca Mottram

Dear Rebecca,

Any ideas on how to transition my child from using the little potty to the big toilet?

Thank you for asking! This is a great question.

There is a reason why potties were invented for infants and toddlers. Potties are specifically designed to get children into the best position for pooing. The squatting position is the appropriate one for all humans to defecate because it allows the bowels to lengthen and empty properly.

So if you want your little one to begin using the toilet, it will require some adaptations to make it accessible and safe. You can do this by making sure there is a step/footstool so that your little one doesn’t have their legs dangling.

Potties are also great for allowing your child to be independent in practicing their skills because they can get on and off easily and use them without your support.

Something to consider when transitioning your child to the toilet is how independent are they capable of being currently and what will they need from you in order to learn how to use the toilet in your house? Here is a handy checklist.

  • Can they get to the bathroom when they need to go?
  • Can they open the door to the bathroom?
  • Can they climb onto and off the toilet safely?
  • Do they need a toilet seat reducer and can they balance on the seat without support?
  • Can they wipe, flush, wash their hands?

How much of the toileting process will you need to help with or supervise? Identifying this helps you to meet your child where they are at. Some children can made the leap from nappies to using the potty/toilet in 3 simple stages, others require a multi-step approach. You can learn more about this in my Advanced Potty Training course.

How to balance privacy and open communication about toileting
Is your child aware of the toilet and what it is for? Have they seen other family members using the toilet? Behaviour modelling is one common way of reducing fear of the toilet from developing.  At some point (or even now) however, your child will crave privacy so make realistic goals for meeting their needs and allowing them to practice.

At first some parents find it helpful to bring the potty into the bathroom and have their children help empty their pee and poop into the toilet and flush it away before starting to use the toilet.

If you have any concerns about managing the toileting process for a child with sensory processing issues, please read my blog for guidance.

If you have a potty dilemma, why not ask Rebecca? Submit your question to our Potty Talk series.

Rebecca Mottram, the founder of Little Bunny Bear and author of The Baby Pottying Guide for babies aged 0-18m, is a registered Children’s Nurse, potty learning researcher and consultant. Rebecca provides coaching to parents and carers around the world via private consultations and workshops. She also designs the Go Potty™ range of nappy belt systemsmattress protection and potty learning clothes and the Sew Potty™ range of sewing patterns.

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