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Learning Centre

Toilet Training

Why is toilet training important?
Being able to use the toilet can improve personal cleanliness, increase independence, improve self-confidence, reduce discomfort, save money on diapers and pull-ups and improve overall quality of life.

Getting Started

When can I start toilet training my child?
Once your child is about 20 months old they can start learning to use the toilet. Another indication is that your child is staying dry for 2 or more hours in a day (or awakening once in a while with a dry diaper). Because each child is different, readiness will vary across children. Some questions to ask when deciding to tackle toilet training are:

  • Can your child follow basic instructions?
  • Can your child pull his or her pants up or down with little or no help?
  • Can he or she follow instructions to sit down and stand up from the potty chair/toilet with little or no help?
  • Are there any cues that your child is peeing or pooping in their diaper/pull-up? For example does your child announce the event, grunt, or hide in a corner or under a table? Does your child seem fussy about having a dirty diaper?
  • Are your child’s bowel movements happening at about the same time every day or during a certain routine?
  • Does your child stay dry for 2 or more hours (or even longer) during the day?

What should I have in the house to get started with potty training?

  • Big kid underwear (a slightly larger size would be helpful to make it easy for your child to pull them up and down)
  • Loose fitting pants that are easy to pull up and down (sweatpants, leggings, pants with loose elastic waistbands).
  • A few different types of preferred drinks (juice, milk, water).
  • A potty (depending on how old your child is or how big they are you may want to start with the toilet or place a child-sized seat on the toilet).
  • Cleaning supplies (for the inevitable accidents).
  • Patience, patience, patience
  • A support network

Are there some things I should avoid when toilet training?

  • Avoid pants with snaps, buttons, tight elastic waist-bands, clasps, and zippers.

Toilet Training References

Azrin N.H. & Foxx R.M. (1974). Toilet Training in less than a day. New York: Pocket books.

Cicero F.R. & Pfadt A. (2002). Investigation of a reinforcement-based toilet training procedure for children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 23, 319 – 331.

Kroeger K.A. & Sorense-Burnworth R. (2009). Toilet training individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities: a critical review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2009.01.005

Kroeger K.A. & Sorensen, R. (2010). A parent training model for toilet training children ith autism. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 54 (6), 556-567. Doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2010.01286.x

LeBlanc L.A., Carr J.E., Crossett S.E., Bennett C. M. & Detweiler D. D. (2005) Intensive outpatient behavioral treatment of primary urinary incontinence of children with autism. Focus on autism and Other Developmental Disabilities 20, 98-105.