Toilet training: what you’ll need



So you’ve decided it’s time to start the toilet training process with your child. But what comes next? What do you need? Here’s a guide to help you along the way.


Before even starting to toilet train your little person, it’s a good idea to read all you can on the topic. Learn how to tell if your child is even ready to begin, the next steps to take, and have a think about how you’ll treat common problems.

You can also chat with other parents about the process in the Essential Baby forum, where a special sub-section is devoted just to this time in your child’s life.

Communication and support

If your child spends a lot of time somewhere else during the day – at daycare, for example, or with other family members – you’ll all need to be on the same page when it comes to toilet training. Talk about what you’re doing, and ask them to do the same things when your child is with them. Childcare workers are used to discussing this topic, and may also have some tips or advice on what might work best for your little one.  


There are many books available to help your child understand what happens when they make the shift from nappies to using the potty to being a completely toilet trained ‘big kid’ in undies; check out our gallery of favourite toilet training books.  


Keep in mind that it’s important to save these books just for when your child is using the toilet – they can be kept in a special place and brought out when you sit your child on the potty.


It goes without saying that a potty is an important item in your potty training arsenal! Most children will prefer to use a potty instead of a child toilet seat when starting out – it’s less daunting than sitting on a grown-up toilet, and is easier to move around the house wherever they are. It’s a good idea to take your child with you when you go to buy the potty, then let them choose which one they like the most. This will help them get excited the process.  

Later, your child might need a small step to help them climb up onto the toilet, and also a child toilet seat.  

Possible incentives

Not all children respond to, or need, physical incentives when toilet training, as some will thrive on praise and encouragement alone. But others don’t respond as well to this, or might need some extra encouragement, and this is where incentives come in.

Incentives work best when they are something your child really wants, and are best given as soon as they do what you want them to do (such as when they use the potty correctly). Try not to use food or lollies; instead, many parents find success with stickers, or using special chart to record their progress. (Read more in our article on toilet training incentives.)

Pull-ups training pants and underpants

Take your toddler shopping and get him to help pick out his special toilet training pants. If you choose to try pull-ups training pants, explain that they are like real underwear, and show him how he can pull them up and down – let him practice this, too. This will give your child a sense of independence.

Once you and your child are confident enough for him to try using underpants, again go shopping to have him choose some ‘big kid’ pants.  

And lastly …

No matter what stage you’re up to in the toilet training process, you will need patience and a sense of humour! Keep in mind that messy accidents are just part of life, and that your child will eventually get the hang of it.

If it all gets too much for you or your child, it’s perfectly fine to have a break from toilet training, then come back to it when your child is older and more developed. In the meantime, stock up on cleaning products, remember that you’re far from alone, and keep your chin up! 

For more toilet training information, visit

You can also read Essential Baby for more stories about toilet training.