40 Years of Busy Bees

Toilet Training

We've been helping children out of nappies for 40 years, so have plenty of advice to help your family.

Curved shape

Here at Busy Bees, we have been supporting children and families with toilet training for more than 40 years!

We understand what a big milestone this is for children, and parents are often worried about whether their child is ready and how to start the process.

In our centres, our staff are trained to recognise the signs that a child might be ready to start potty training, and we want to share that knowledge and understanding with families.

Therefore we have gathered some of our top tips and handy hints, to support families in this important step, ensuring children gain the independence skills they need to successfully start school.


Downloadable activities in PDF format that you can try at home today.

Find the pants

Teddy needs a wee

Wet or Dry

Is your child ready?

Every child is different, so there is no hard and fast rule at which age your child should be in pants and out of nappies. Look for these signs that will tell you that your child might be ready:

  • They can tell you when they have had a poo or a wee
  • They go for more than an hour between wetting their nappy
  • They are starting to be able to remove and put back on their own clothing
  • They fidget or go quiet when they need to toilet

It is really important not to push your child to train before they are ready or to try and get them into pants really quickly once they have started training.

Like any other skill, your child will learn, it will take time and practice and pushing them before they are ready may lead to your child becoming distressed and anxious about going to the toilet and more stress for you!

On the other hand, if you don't get started when your child is showing signs, this can affect their independence, not to mention the ongoing impact on the environment of using nappies.

Your child's key person in nursery is on hand, ready to support you both through this journey. Have a chat with them whenever you're thinking of getting started.

Talk to your child about using the toilet while changing their nappy. Talk about what they have done in their nappy and how soon they will be using the toilet.

Buy a potty early on so your child is used to having one in the house and talk about what it is for. They may want to sit on it long before they are ready to train – that's fine!

Talk to them about the potty, "You're sitting on the potty; when you're bigger you'll use it instead of your nappy!"

When you feel that your child is ready to start potty training, choose a time when there is little else going on in your lives that may distract or get in the way, for example when you are due to have another baby, moving house or starting nursery.

Although it can be frustrating, when potty training your child it is really important that you do not get cross or upset if your child has an accident. This could lead to them having difficulty going to the toilet or becoming very anxious and negative about toilet training.

Remember it will take time and children will sometimes seem to have mastered the skill only for them to have a setback. Be patient and reassure your child that it doesn't matter.

Day time toilet training and night time toilet training are two separate things.

It can take much longer for children to be dry at night so don’t put pressure on yourself and your child by trying to get them dry through the night at the same time as day.

When your child is asking not to have their night time nappy, their night time nappy is dry or only very lightly wet and / or your child wakes in the night to use the toilet, they are showing you signs that they are ready to be dry at night

Your child will be likely to have lots of accidents so invest in lots of cheap pairs of trousers, socks and pants (plus spare shoes!)

Choose clothing that is really easy for children to manage themselves such as jogging bottoms with an elasticated waist. Allow your child to help choose the pants or knickers they would like to encourage them to want to wear them. Let them choose each day which ones they would like to wear.

When you know you are going to be out and about for the day, consider taking your potty with you and have supplies of wipes, changes of clothes and hand sanitiser. It could be really distressing for both you and your child if they know they need to go but there is nowhere you can find quick enough and they have an accident.

Learning to use the toilet is more than just understanding the urge to go.

You also need to help your child to learn self-help skills such as confidently remove and put back on their own clothing and hygiene skills such as hand washing. This is important for mastering using the toilet independently.

Try playing games where they can put on dressing up clothes or dress their teddies or dolls

Provide a washing up bowl with some warm soapy water so they can 'clean' their toys.

Talk to your child about the importance of handwashing after going to the toilet and getting rid of germs.

A child potty training

Sharing stories and songs

Share stories about using the toilet such as 'I want my potty' by Tony Ross or 'Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle' by Axel Scheffler. You could also go to the library and choose special books for reading while sitting on the potty.

If your child enjoys singing, share songs and rhymes while they are sitting on the potty. You could also sing songs about going to the toilet for example "wee, wee, wee, on the potty, when you need a wee, then you need to wash your hands, so they're nice and clean!" to the tune of 'Row, row, row your boat' or "I need a poo, I need a poo, on the potty, on the potty, then I wipe my bottom, then I wipe my bottom, and wash my hands, wash my hands" to the tune of 'I hear thunder'.

Find out more

Busy Bees parents can access more great activities to share with their child to support the toilet training journey on UP (upatbusybees.co.uk), our own innovative early years learning platform.


Over 7 in 10 parents concerned lockdowns have set back their child’s social development.
Toilet Training - your most asked questions

The Busy Bees childcare experts answer your most asked questions about potty training

Read more
Over 7 in 10 parents concerned lockdowns have set back their child’s social development.
Celebrating 40 years of Best Beginnings

As we look back on four decades of giving children the very best start in life, here are some of our most memorable moments

Read more
Over 7 in 10 parents concerned lockdowns have set back their child’s social development.
Top Five Potty Training Books for Children

Are you beginning to think your little one might be ready for toilet training? 

Read more
Over 7 in 10 parents concerned lockdowns have set back their child’s social development.
Top Tips for Potty Training

One of the first steps towards independence is using a potty, although it can seem like a daunting task. 

Read more

Approximately 8 million disposable nappies are thrown away each day in the UK.

Every year the UK is estimated to get through 3 billion disposable nappies, weighing 700,000 tonnes and costing around £100million to dispose of. These figures are huge and so is the impact on our environment.

By focusing on supporting educators and parents to identify when children are ready for toilet training, we have the potential to reduce the number of nappies we use which will in turn begin to reduce our environmental impact.

We have a long way to go on this journey. However, together we can start to make a difference.