Toilet Training Group

How Speech Pathologists Help with Toilet Training

Toilet training often comes into focus for families during periods of transition or when there’s an opportunity to dedicate time and attention to this particular milestone. Whether it’s due to changes in the weather that make it more practical (the summer holidays can be a good time), or finding ourselves with a bit more flexibility in our schedules, these moments offer a prime chance to tackle this sometimes daunting, yet important step in your child’s development. It might also be prompted by your child preparing to transition into a new educational setting. No matter the motivation, reflecting on your child’s current skills and abilities could highlight the readiness to embark on this journey and will often bring up many questions around what to do, when to do it, and how to help your child succeed.

Luckily, Speech Pathologists can help with many areas of toilet training including helping you identify the right time to start, as well as the language and communication skills required for a ‘flushing success’ in the bathroom. Read on to discover what you can look out for when it comes to understanding you child’s readiness for toilet training, as well as the steps Speech Pathologists take in supporting children who may need a bit of help.

What Are the Signs that My Child Might Be Ready for Toilet Training?

It is common for families to have many questions around toilet training, such as How do I go about toilet training? What if my child is having difficulty with toilet training? And two of the big ones: When should I start toilet training? How do I know if my child is ready for toilet training?

Luckily, there are some subtle signs which can indicate if your child is ready to trial toilet training, including:

  • Dry nappies: Is your child’s nappy dry for at least two hours between changes during the day?
  • Interest: Does your child show an interest in the toilet?
  • Age: Is your child between 18months – 3 years old?
  • Awareness: Can your child tell you that they are ‘doing a wee/poo’ or tell you straight after?
  • Dislike of nappies: Is your child pulling off their nappy or letting you know when their nappy is full?

What Should I Consider for Toilet Training?

There are many methods and equipment you can consider when it comes to preparing for toilet training. Baby stores, for example, are FULL of props, gadgets and equipment to support you and your child in you journey. The method you pick will depend on many factors, including your child’s interests and abilities, your weekly schedule, your cultural beliefs and how your child progresses. However, before you start here are a few items and approaches you might find helpful to consider:

Potty vs. Toilet:

  • Potty: Portable and often seen as less intimidating for beginners. It’s easy to move around, making it a flexible option.
  • Toilet: Using the actual toilet can make your child feel more like the grown-ups. It is sometimes recommended that neurodivergent children bypass the potty and go straight to the toilet to train as this removes a step in the process. If choosing this route, you might need:
    • A step or footstool for easy access and to support their feet while seated.
    • A smaller toilet seat that fits securely within the regular seat for added comfort and safety.

Training Pants and Pull-Ups:

Transitioning from nappies to training pants or pull-ups can play a crucial role in your child’s journey.

  • Training Pants: Less absorbent than nappies, these can contain accidents and are designed to be pulled on and off easily. Opt for clothes that are simple for your child to remove quickly.
  • Pull-Ups: More absorbent and similar to underwear, they are especially useful for outings, offering a balance between nappies and regular underwear.


Allowing your child to choose their underpants can make the transition more exciting. It’s a significant step towards becoming independent and can serve as a motivational tool.

What Are the Indicators That My Child May Need Additional Support With Toilet Training?

Toilet training is a milestone that takes time to learn and conquer. As a result, ti is important to be patient and keep the process as fun as you can. With this in mind, it may be helpful to seek advice from your GP or Speech Pathologist if you are noticing the following:

  • Your child still has wet pants by 3.5-4 years of age
  • Your child stays dry during the day for some time but starts to have wet pants again
  • Your child continues to wet the bed at night after 7 years of age

How Can A Speech Pathologist Help with Toilet Training?

Speech Pathologists have unique and in-depth training in a range of different aspects of child development. We can use those skills to help make the toilet training process easier to understand in the following ways:

Model the Language:

Speech Pathologists can grow your child’s understanding of the vocabulary used around the topic of toilet training. Think words like toilet, undies, flush, seat, push, toilet paper. If your child is not yet communicating through talking, your speech pathologist can use hand gestures, simple signs or pictures to introduce these words, and help you understand these non-speaking cues.

Incorporate Visual Supports:

Speech Pathologists have a great knowledge of how to use photos and pictures in such a way to help your child understand the procedure for using the toilet. We call these ‘Visual Schedules’. Your Speech Pathologist can create a visual schedule that works for your child and incorporates familiar images and signs that your child understands and can follow.

Using Books and Social Stories:

We know the importance of reading to our children and toilet training is a great topic to read about with your child! Your Speech Pathologist can go one step further by creating a personalised story using photos and pictures about toilet time. This makes the process very clear for your child and helps them to understand the routine.

There are SO many toilet training books on the market which cover a range of topics related to toilet training – anything from transitioning out of nappies to undies, to using the toilet, to the common anxieties your child may feel around using the toilet. Here are some of our favourites:

  1. Toilet Time – A Training Kit for Boys/Girls by First Steps – includes a reward chart and reward stickers
  2. How to Toilet Train Your Dragon Who is Scared to Poop, by Steve Herman – a wonderful story for addressing some common anxieties around using the toilet
  3. No More Nappies: A Potty Training Book, by Marion Cocklico – follows two little toddlers as they transition out of nappies into undies.
  4. Pirate Polly’s Potty/ Pirate Pete’s Potty by Ladybird Press – a ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ version of this book, addressing the common anxieties around using the toilet
  5. A Potty for Me! By Karen Katz – an interactive, lift the flap book about a little girl who is too busy having fun to sit on the potty.

Online Videos for Toilet Training:

I have to add in my personal favourite toilet training resource, even though it’s not a story – it’s a Youtube video called ‘Tom’s Toilet Triumph’. It goes for about six minutes and is a wonderful resource for demonstrating the process of toileting, particularly for slightly older children. I recommend encouraging your child to watch it whilst they are sitting on the toilet/potty! It will help to keep your child entertained during toilet time and they will love the story!

While the topic of toilet training can raise a lot of uncertainty and hesitation, it is reassuring to know that there are a wide variety of resources available to support you and your child. If you are wondering how to start with incorporating additional resources or how to model toilet training ‘language’ at home, reach out to us at A Growing Understanding Speech Pathology for more information.

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