Our toilet learning journey

This is my second time round the toilet learning journey. Things seem much easier this time round, I have felt more confident and was better organized.

Step 1: Preparing the environment

We used cloth nappies with bamboo inserts until my son was able to stand confidently and then we swapped to cotton pull up pants.



I used the bamboo inserts just for the transition period at night and when going out until we didn’t need them any more. We now use the bamboo inserts for cleaning up any accidents. I heard that some parents use inserts like these instead of using disposable wipes. I will mention, that I carry a ‘wet bag’ with me whenever we travel away from home.Toilet Learning Station

A potty and chair (wish I had a slightly lower chair but chair fits a 1 year old +) which I had set up in this space from birth so it was familiar. This space is set up near our toilet/bathroom but is a small space, so this toilet learning space was better set up just outside the toilet door. Due to the limit of space and that this is the guest bathroom/kids bathroom I have a bucket set up in the bathroom to hold wet/soiled clothing and cleaning cloths.


A waterproof bed pad, an alternative to a puddle pad to protect the bed. For a heavy wetter especially at night, a towel over the top of the bed pad works. Kylie, from How We Montessori made this DIY wool puddle pad.


A waterproof car seat cover for car trips that can also be used as a pram liner.

Tips that have helped me;

  • Prepare you bathroom or toilet learning space early on. Have it ready to use when needs be.
  • If possible use cloth nappies instead of disposables from birth, not just for comfort but also helps your child to understand wet from dry quicker. Make sure you change them as soon as they are wet.
  • Begin to change them in a standing position as soon as they are able to stand readily by themselves. From a standing position the child is better able to see the actions involved in cleaning and changing.
  • Always clean and change them in the bathroom after the early months so they associate that is the natural place to use the toilet, get changed and cleaned up.
  • Be patient and encouraging
  • Help teach your child how to undress/dress themselves, wash hands, help clean up after ‘accidents’ and flush the toilet when they are ready. Consistency and routine helps.
  • Explain bodily functions without using ‘baby talk’
  • Keep old towels, cloths or a mop on hand for accidents
  • When accidents occur be understanding
  • Children use the toilet when they are ready, not when the parents get around to training them.
  • Have everything they need to be independent in toileting within reach (clean pants or a place to put soiled pants, toilet paper etc).
  • If sleeping at night without protection, keep change of bedding, clothes and towels in arms reach of the bed.
  • Limit fluids from late afternoon
  • There is a sensitive period for interest in toilet awareness/learning, according to some Montessori books is around 12 months-18 months, some other books say 18 months-2 years. Follow the child is the best advice.

So, where are we at with my just turned 2 year old? He is mostly day trained, but not night trained. We made the decision to remove all nappies (yes we have used them sometimes) from the house to not cause confusion, as to why we wear nappies ‘sometimes’ (at night). There is no stress, no pressure. We have accidents but we clean them up together and move on. I am no means an expert on this issue, just thought I would share what has worked so far with us.

Edited: May 9th 2016

My son is now 2 years and 3 months old. At the moment he is still using the potty but now he is also using the toilet. We still have accidents and he is not night time toileting, that will come when he is ready, there is no rush.

toilet step

Excuse the photos of our toilet, I hope this doesn’t cause any offence. I decided to use this plastic toilet step I got from Aldi in Australia, instead of our wooden one as I wanted to keep using that step in our bathroom for my children to reach the sink. Our wooden step can also be converted into a toilet step. This one is working fine though. The stool in the background is so my son can reach the button to flush the toilet.

kids toilet seat

The white padded child sized toilet seat is what I now take with us if I know there is going to be toilets near by, otherwise I just take our potty. I just put it onto our toilet to show you how it works.

We are still using the bed pad during the day and night for sleeps and the waterproof car seat cover as well as the cotton nappies + training pants over the top of them for night time and cotton training pants for day time as he finds them really comfortable.

waterproof wet bag

I love these waterproof bags for travel that I got off ebay.  I have two of them; one for wet items and one for dry items. This is how I carry cloth pants/underpants, cloth wipes etc.




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