Our 3-year-old son has shown signs of improvement lately in using the toilet to poo. He is still wearing nappy, but he is able to take his nappy and shorts/trousers off and then climbed onto the toilet by himself to poo. (He does not want to use the toilet trainer seat, but he would instead squat on the toilet. He has never used a potty.) Normally he would tell me before if he wanted to poo, and I would supervise him until he finishes. Today, he didn't even tell me beforehand, did all by himself until he finished, when I heard him calling.

When it comes to peeing, however, he has not been able to do it as good as he does pooing. So far he would only pee in the same way he poos, straight after his bath, while still naked. Other than that, he would pee in his nappy.

What is the next step I need to take so that he can pee in the toilet, just as he poos? When should I stop putting nappies on him?

2 Answers 2


You should stop putting him in nappies immediately, or as soon as you are ready to toilet train ;-). At this point, he's probably pretty used to peeing in his diaper/nappy, it doesn't bother him...why be inconvenienced to stop playing to go walk to the bathroom when you've got a diaper? Peeing in underwear is much more uncomfortable for the child, as it leaves an unpleasant dampness in their clothing.

Some children do not learn to recognize the sensation that they need to pee while wearing a diaper. It's easiest to learn to recognize the need to pee while undressed from the waist down (wear a large-fitting shirt), and once they are good at using the potty while undressed, move on to wearing underwear.

Depending on how anxious you are to potty train quickly, vs how much you are willing to clean up accidents may determine what pace you potty train at. Some parents only let their kids go naked (or partially naked) in the backyard, others anytime they are home, etc. The more time they spend not wearing diapers the quicker the transition to the potty will go. Drinking lots of juice or water may help to make them need to go more often to develop the association quicker.

You can have him sit on the toilet at times of day he would normally wet his nappy, and see if anything comes out. Or go to the toilet every hour to "check" if any pee pee is waiting to come out. There are a lot of different strategies on potty training, you can certainly read whole books on the matter, so I won't go into too much detail.

At any rate, although it is less common to poop train first, it is not unusual or indicative of any problem to get the hang of using the potty/toilet to poop before using the potty to pee. the sensation felt is different, and children learn in both orders.

  • Is it all right to go straight from nappy to underwear, without the undressed phase? I don't think he would want to use a potty. We don't have one either.
    – adipro
    Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 20:30
  • it shouldnt matter whether he's using an adult toilet or a baby potty, so if he's pooping on the adult toilet, he can pee there too. some kids have more accidents if you go straight to underwear, but some do fine. Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 20:57

This is very strange, as usually it's much easier to feel the need to urinate. So most likely it's not physical problem, but rather psychological.

For some reason, your son thinks it's OK and the right thing to pee in the diaper so best course of action in my opinion is talking with him, asking about it until you find the root cause (e.g. something you or his mother told him at some point, even long ago) then act upon it, for example if he was told "It's fine if you sometimes pee in diaper" maybe try explain to him "It's fine, but you should try first going to the toilet".

  • Yes, I suspect so. Is there anything I can do besides talking, if it does not get across?
    – adipro
    Commented May 25, 2014 at 20:58
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    @adipro well, you can always try the "carrot and stick" approach. Carrot first of course, tell him that if he pee in toilet you will give him a prize. What we do with our daughter (to this day and she's nearly 4) is in the middle: when she want to watch TV we tell her "first go to toilet", and it works. Commented May 25, 2014 at 21:26
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    Carrot and stick? More specifically "stick"? What do you mean? Punishing a child for not going to the toilet the way you want him/her to? A great way to traumatise the little one. Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 11:22
  • @DaveClarke that's a thin line indeed but when the child is well aware what he is doing is wrong then punishment might be a proper course of action. Toilet training is not imprinted in our DNA, if our parents wouldn't educate us to "go to the toilet the way they want" as you put it, how will we learn exactly? For some children it comes naturally, some need more patience and guidance, that's all. Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 11:31
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    Patience and guidance, yes. But punishment? Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 11:50

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