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Potty Training FAQ

Gina Ford has worked with babies for over 20 years and has been asked every possible question relating to her routines. This section contains a summary of potty training answers by Gina. Hopefully they will help you to have a truly contented baby.

  • You may also wish to look at the FAQ index for other topic areas.
  • These questions and their answers are also covered in Gina's books.

Potty Training FAQ answered by GINA:


My son is 2 years and 3 months and seems ready to potty train. I’m expecting a new baby in a few weeks’ time. Should I try to potty train before the baby arrives?

The arrival of a new baby is one of the biggest upheavals possible in a toddler’s life and it could affect his behaviour in any number of ways. I would advise you forget about potty training for a little while and focus on helping your son adjust to his new brother or sister. It would be worse for him to be trained now and then possibly regress and need nappies again. This would feel like a failure to him and would make training later a lot harder. When you feel things have settled down at home then you can begin in earnest. In the meantime, you can keep the potty around and encourage him to sit on it in the morning before he gets dressed and again in the evening before his bath. Don’t force the issue though, let him take the lead.

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My daughter is two and a half and is showing all the signs of being ready to potty train. I’m very keen to do it. I work three days a week and my mother looks after Emily. I have heard my mother telling Emily how horrid and disgusting her dirty nappies are and I think Emily has become anxious now as she often cries when she has done a poo.

Your mother’s generation tended to potty train much sooner than your generation. This was because terry nappies were much more of an ordeal to clean that our modern, disposable nappies. Possibly your mum thinks Emily should have been out of nappies long ago and is registering her disapproval with your daughter. I think it’s very important to avoid anxiety about pooing as it will make potty training much more difficult and could even lead to long-term problems. Try and explain this to your mother and ask her to stop using words like ‘horrible’ and ‘disgusting’. Get her involved with helping you follow my programme. If you begin training on the first day you are home, you would have four good days at it before you have to go to work and the majority of the training would be done. Many mums who leave it until their child is older find it can take just a few days.

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My son was quickly and easily potty trained at 2 years and 8 months. I’d like to get him out of nappies at night-time but they seem to be sodden in the morning when he gets up. How long will this go on for?

  • It sounds as if he might be drinking too much in the evening. Try to give him his biggest drink before 6pm with a small drink before bedtime if needed, so he can have a final wee before going to bed.
  • If he still has a lunchtime sleep, keep him in nappies until you find they are consistently dry for two weeks. Tackle this first.
  • I usually wait until a child is at least three years old before removing a nappy at night-time. If you find his nappy is dry or slightly damp in the mornings for a few weeks you can try to abandon them. You might find he starts to wake in the night needing a wee. You can leave the potty in his room and put in a very dim night-light so he can get to out of bed and use the potty by himself. Wait until he’s at least three before you do this as it could lead to disturbed sleep and night wakings.

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My son is nearly three and has been using the big toilet for quite a while now. I’ve been trying to get him to stand up and wee but he only wants to do it sitting down. What can I do?

  • You might have more success if daddy shows him how this is done. If he’s been watching only you he could be confused. When he’s with other boys at nursery school or during visits, encourage him to watch them wee standing up and make a big fuss of him being grown up.
  • You might need to put a small step by the loo so he can reach and aim properly. Hold him carefully under the arms until he learns to balance on his own.
  • A trick that has worked for me is getting boys to try and pee into a disposable plastic cup over the loo. This helps them get used to it. Encouraging him to make a nice splashing noise can help too.
  • Ask daddy to show him how to hold his willy up and aim, then how to shake the drips off afterwards.

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When we go out during potty training, do you advise using pull-up nappies?

  • No – it’s tempting to use these because they are similar to pants but to your child they will seem like a nappy again. It will confuse him and potty training will take much longer. The absorbency of the pull-ups means your child will be less aware of when he is wet.
  • Try to plan potty training when you can just be at home. It seems restricting but one week staying home near the potty will ensure you and your child succeed and you can then go out and about as normal, taking the potty with you or using the loo wherever you go.
  • During the fist few days at home put your child in a short t-shirt and into pants which can easily be pulled up and down. Tracksuit bottoms and skirts for girls care ideal clothing to wear in the early days. Avoid poppers, buttons or braces. And remember that once you give up the nappy, don’t go back as this is the main reason for potty training failing.

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