Top tips for toilet training success

By Melissa Grant

Toilet training is one of the hardest – and messiest – tasks you will go through as a parent.

And many of us are leaving it too late, according to a toilet training expert.

Parents commonly wait until their child is well into their second year of life – or even their third – before they start the process.

However, Queensland mum Tracy Fulwood, the founder of, says it’s much easier to start toilet training your child before their second birthday.

“If you don’t wait until the terrible twos to start, when they are ready to assert their authority, then they are developing good habits before then,” she explained.

“Parents do need to choose when it’s right for them, but the earlier we can break the bad habit (of wearing nappies) the better.”

Tracy’s own toilet battles with her first child led her to developing her toilet training business.

Her two-and-a-half-year-old would scream that she didn’t want to go to the toilet.

Tracy concedes that initially she did “all the wrong things”.

But when she sat down and devised a toilet system training system, her daughter was toilet trained in three days.

Tracy began toilet training her second child at four months of age, by putting him on the potty when it was obvious he needed to do number twos.

She started the process with her third child at two months.

They both were using the toilet independently by 19 months of age.

As Tracy researched toilet training, a theme began to emerge – it’s easier to do it earlier.

“A research project actually showed there was a window of opportunity. It found parents who started at 18 months to 24 months had less problems,” she said.

So why are parents leaving it so long to start?

Tracy says parents are often told to wait for signs of “readiness”, which may never come.

She also says the multi-billion nappy industry has a lot to do with it.

“You speak to many grandparents and they don’t understand why we are having problems. But they started earlier because they didn’t have the convenience of disposable nappies.”

Tracy developed the Know Your Child system to help parents toilet train their children.

Her system has two components – a know your child training module and a toilet game, offering a tailored approach so you can best engage your child.

If you are reading this and think there’s no reason to delay toilet training any longer, here are Tracy’s tips:


Before starting it pays to understand your child’s personality.

The Know Your Child toilet training system identifies four different types of personality – courageous lion, lovable lamb, wise old owl and cheeky monkey.

The courageous lion is the hardest to train, they tend to hold on because they don’t like to feel like they aren’t in control. The lovable lamb is also hard to train as they simply don’t care and are very stubborn. Then there’s the Wise Old Owl who doesn’t like change and will stick to what they know which is the nappy. The cheeky monkey can be inconsistent and the challenge is typically keeping them on the toilet long enough for them to go. Knowing your child’s personality helps you tailor your approach. If you have a strong-willed child you need to give them the feeling of control and ownership.


There are definite signs of readiness such as your child telling you about poos, removing or tugging at their nappy, and taking an interest in you going to the toilet. If your child shows these signs of readiness get going. However, some types of personalities won’t show those signs.


You cannot toilet train with a nappy. We feel wet, cause and effect. While the nappy is there it takes the sensation away – you are actually making it harder for them to win. If you say ‘do you need to go?’ they don’t know. It’s like saying ‘here is a bike, ride!’ Pull-ups are a marketing tool.


The decision to use a toilet or potty is based on age and personality. If you start a bit younger and your child is more petite then a potty is great. The challenge with the potty is that childcare centres don’t accept potties and there is a clean-out process. If your child is nearing two years then going to the toilet makes it easier when you go out. Also, if you have a child who doesn’t like change then transitioning from potty to toilet will be another battle.


Often parents quit toilet training a day too early. It takes two to five days of concentrated effort versus a very painful effort long-term. So stay home for two to five days to focus on and create this new habit. Exactly how long it takes will depend on your child’s age and their personality.


Wait until you finish day training before you start night training. Night training is something you can’t do for your child. There are uncontrollable factors such as heavy wetting, deep sleep and hereditary factors. The key is the bladder brain connection. Parents can make the mistake of waking up their child during the night.