How to toilet train in the winter months

The idea that potty training is best to tackle during the warmer months makes a lot of sense: toddlers can run around without clothes, or spend more time outdoors meaning that accidents are easier to clean up, and all the extra washing can dry in the sunshine.

However, if your little one is ready to start learning to use the potty or toilet, you can get started anytime. Here we look at the advantages and how to toilet train in the winter months followed by a simple guide to going about it.

Advantages of toilet training in the winter months

  • You’re indoors more often anyway

Sometimes it’s necessary to stay home for the first few days of toilet training with your toddler, so if you’re home anyway, you won’t feel like you’re ‘trapped’ indoors or missing the beautiful weather. 

  • Your child is already used to staying home

Because your little one is already used to being indoors with you when it’s cold, it won’t be too much of a change to your daily routine to spend a few days at home. In the summer, you might be out for walks, or visit the playground, beach, or park almost daily. So, hopefully you won’t have to deal with as many meltdowns about not going out during the winter.

  • You can control the heat

Depending on where you live, the weather can fluctuate during summer, and some days can be much cooler than others. During potty training, there is usually a lot of stripping off and changing of wet clothes, which can make toddlers feel chilly (and therefore more reluctant to go nappy-free). If you’re home during the winter, you have the benefit of being able to put the heating on and keeping them warm at all times.

  • It’s easier to keep hydrated

You will need to help your toddler to keep hydrated so that there will be plenty of opportunities to use the toilet (the more practice they get, the better!), and to also avoid constipation. It’s much harder for some little ones to stay fully hydrated in the summertime by drinking lots of water. Because they’re not sweltering in the heat, they won’t need as much water to keep hydrated in the cooler months.

How to toilet train in the winter months

1. Look for your child’s signs of readiness

The time that children are ready to use the toilet varies, and there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ time. Follow your child’s cues, as each child is different.

  • Are they showing interest in sitting on the toilet or potty, or in washing their hands?
  • Can they pull their clothes up and down independently?
  • Are they signalling that they have a wet or dirty nappy?

2. Get everything you need to set your child up for success

Here are the must-haves for toilet learning to support your child and make your life easier:

  • Picture books about using the toilet/potty
  • Cloth or disposable training pants for when you go out and about
  • Underwear – take your toddler to the shops to pick some out
  • Potty – something simple is good
  • Toilet seat with/without steps
  • Waterproof sheet protectors for naps and nights
  • A step stool so they can reach the basin to wash their hands
  • Portable potty – the type with attachable liners that can be disposed of
  • Portable toilet seat for outtings
  • Wet/dry bag for the wet clothing when you’re out

3. Keep clothing warm and simple

Keep them warm up-top with a jumper, and put them in some inexpensive tracksuit bottoms with an elastic waistband, to make pulling them up and down a lot easier.

4. Model toilet use

Using the toilet is a skill that needs to be taught through adult support and facilitation. So, let them see you use the toilet, chatting to them through each step. Kids naturally want to do whatever their grown-ups are doing!

5. Keep it positive

Refrain from coaxing, bribing, rewarding, or demanding that your child uses the potty. Learning to use the toilet must be a positive experience that is led by your child. Your role is to provide the necessary tools, and their job is to use them when they’re ready. Even when they do use the potty, there’s no need to make a big fuss about it. Just a few encouraging words is fine.


6. Make it convenient and accessible

Have potties in various parts of the house, so there’s no mad dashes from one end to the other. This not only keeps the experience calm, but is also good to have visual reminders around for your child. They often don’t want to stop what they’re doing to use the potty, so keep one near where they’re playing.

7. Keep it up when you’re out and about

Use your own judgement when you go out. If you think your child will become stressed using the potty or a public toilet when you go out, offer the choice between pull-ups and underwear. Equally, if you’re feeling anxious or you’re not going to be near toilets, do what you need to do. Go at the pace that suits you both, there’s no rush.

8. Know how to handle different situations

It helps to learn about what to do when challenges arise. In our article, Top 10 toilet learning tips for toddlers, we answer all of your questions including how to prepare your toddler before you get started, what happens when they regress, how to respond during setbacks, when they are ready to train overnight, what to do if your child doesn’t like to sit still, and what if they won’t poo on the potty.

You’ve got this! If you have any questions or concerns at all, feel free to send us a DM over on our Facebook page.