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How to potty train boys

Potty training boys

Potty training boys can be a stressful experience. As well as getting them to sit down on the potty, you then need to teach them how to pee standing up, so we’ve come up with a few expert toilet tips to make the whole experience a lot easier.

When to start potty training boys: 

On average, boys are ready to be potty trained a few months later than girls. Their communication skills are less developed at the same age and they’re more active, making them less likely to stop and take time out to use a potty. But all children are different and those with older siblings may be ready as early as 18 months, while others may be as late as four years.

From around age two, start looking for the signs that he’s ready to start potty training:

  • Can he tell you his nappy’s wet?
  • Is he interested in toilets, potties and wees?
  • Can he follow simple instructions?
  • Will he sit quietly in the same place for two minutes?
  • Can he pull his trousers up and down?
  • Does he exhibit good bladder control and go for two hours without weeing?

If the answer to any of these is ‘no’, it’s probably better to wait a little longer. If the answers are ‘yes’, then he’s ready.

Potty training is a new experience for little boys and it can be scary. Getting the timing right is crucial. Avoid potty training if there’s something else big going on in his life, like a new baby, new nursery or house move. Many parents also wait till the summer to train boys as, if you have a private garden, they can run around naked and practise their aim against an unsuspecting tree marked with tape. 

How to potty train a boy:

Toddlers learn by imitation so instigate an open-door policy and encourage him to watch his dad or older brothers going to the toilet. However reluctant Dad might be, encourage him to start talking about weeing and pooing with his son, and you can explain that Daddy uses the toilet differently to Mummy. Swap nappies for pull-ups and encourage him to take them on and off himself when he’s getting dressed.

He needs to feel like a big boy so let him choose whichever pants he wants, whether it’s boxers, briefs, ones with trains on or his favourite cartoon character. 

If he seems to be taking all this in his stride, it’s time for a special shopping trip. If possible, make this a boys-only affair with Daddy taking him out for some special man time. But, whether it’s you or Dad who takes him, make sure he knows that this is a big deal and talk about the outing before it actually happens. He needs to feel like a big boy so let him choose whichever pants he wants, whether it’s boxers, briefs, ones with trains on or his favourite cartoon character. That way, he’ll want to keep them as clean as possible. He might end up soiling several in the first few days so, to avoid running out, buy between seven and ten pairs to start off with.

During the early stages of potty training, expect to take him to the bathroom or the potty every hour or so and encourage him to go, rather than waiting for him to tell you. Look out for signs he needs a wee or a poo like hopping, holding his bottom or concentrating on something that’s not immediately apparent. At the beginning, teach him to sit on the potty for both wees and poos, so he can learn the basics without getting distracted with the fun bit of spraying and perfecting his aim. Encourage him to push his penis right down so it’s aimed in the right direction.

Make sure you have several potties at hand – a minimum of one on each floor of your house so you aren’t running around trying to find them in an emergency. Eventually, he’ll be able to go and get the potty and use it for himself, another reason it’s handy to have them within easy reach.

Of course, accidents are inevitable but don’t make a fuss. Calmly clean everything up and remind him to tell you when he needs the toilet next time. To reward successes, start a “treat bag” and fill it with cheap presents like miniature cars, Paw Patrol stickers and bubbles (if you can avoid sweets). When he does go to the toilet and washes his hands, let him choose something from the bag to keep.

Help him to practise his aim by putting Cheerios in the toilet bowl and getting him to try and “sink” them, or get him to cut out toilet paper shapes and practise firing at them.

Once he’s mastered using the potty and toilet, you can move on to standing up. Help him to practise his aim by putting Cheerios in the toilet bowl and getting him to try and “sink” them, or get him to cut out toilet paper shapes and practise firing at them. If your little boy isn't circumcised, make sure he keeps his foreskin retracted when he pees – it can cause wee to spray out, making a mess, as well as trapping urine, leading to infection.

What to buy when potty training a boy:

  • Buy a potty without a urine guard (or if it has one, make sure it can be removed). They protect your bathroom from splashes but they can scrape the penis when he sits down and pain isn’t something that you want associated with toilet training.
  • If he’s struggling to pee standing up, get him his very own training urinal. This can be mounted on a wall or left freestanding.
  • Reading a book on the toilet is a great way to keep little boys entertained and it will help him to relax. Pirate Pete’s Potty Book uses bright fun pictures and a “cheer” sound effect as it takes children through the story of how Pirate Pete learns to use a potty.
  • Most boys aren’t tall enough to reach the toilet to pee so buy a stool that they can climb up onto. They can also use this to reach the sink for hand washing afterwards.
  • These antibacterial potty-training balls are a great alternative to Cheerios and create a fun point of focus for boys who need help with their aim.
  • As well as a potty and a training seat, invest in a travel potty that he can use when he needs to go and you’re out and about. The Pottete travel potty, which can easily be folded down and stored under a buggy, makes an emergency toilet break a no-hassle affair thanks to its disposable bags. As well as a potty, it doubles up as a training seat that can be folded out and fitted onto a public toilet.

Potty training tips for boys:

  • Personalise the potty with stickers from his favourite TV shows.
  • While he’s potty-training, avoid putting him in trousers with a button or zip fly that will take time and concentration for him to undo. Loose-fitting clothes, like jogging bottoms that have an elasticated waist, are the best option.
  • If you have trouble getting him on the toilet, let him choose some food colouring to put in the bowl and get him to wee onto it. He’ll love watching it change colour.
  • Buy pants a size bigger so he can easily get them on and off.
  • Doing poos on the toilet might be trickier than wees. Encourage him to stay sitting by downloading a new game onto an iPad or buying him a new book that’s kept only in the bathroom for toilet times. 

Want more information? Take a look at our comprehensive step by step potty training guide here, have a read of our top tips on how to potty train girls or find the best travel potties on the market here. 

Read next, the top classes to try with your toddler: 

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1. Dance classes, diddidance.com

Perfect for burning off some of your toddler’s endless energy, diddi dance classes use ribbons and hoops as props. Dance classes have a theme, which changes every 5-7 weeks, and includes salsa and 1920s Charleston – think jazz hands. 
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2. Dance classes, disco-duck.co.uk

Disco Duck are nationwide award-winning dance classes for pre-school boys and girls.  Designed by an ex professional dancer, dance teacher and choreographer, the classes have been developed to increase little one’s confidence, self-esteem, social skills, balance and concentration. The classes operate in a fun and safe environment and are attended every week by Disco Duck himself! There is also Disco Duck merchandise including a CD and stories, and parties which are really popular with parents and children. 
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3. Baby yoga classes, yogabellies.co.uk

If you love your downward dog or salute to the sun, you can take your baby along to YogaBellies classes, which includes baby massage, focused yoga postures for the mums, and poses for both you and your baby so you can bond with each other. They’re suitable for babies and toddlers and classes last one hour, which you book in blocks of six classes.
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4. Music classes, jojingles.com

Ok, so your singing voice may be a bit rusty (more reject than Rihanna wannabe), but that doesn’t matter in a Jo Jingles class. It offers music, singing and dance classes for babies and pre-school children from three months to four years. Expect plenty of tambourines and maracas (anything to drown out our singing…) 
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5. Baby massage classes, mamababybliss.com

A good class for newborns and very young babies, MamaBabyBliss massage can help sooth colic and wind, and encourage your baby to sleep, as well as building his digestive, circulatory and immune systems.
Baby swimming Expand Image Baby swimming

6. Swimming classes, waterbabies.co.uk

Great for getting your baby used to the water from a young age, Waterbabies baby swimming classes also boost confidence and improve strength in your baby’s arms and legs. The sooner you start, the more used to the water your tot will be. 
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7. Language classes, lingotot.com

You’ll be surprised at how quickly your little one can pick up a foreign language (if you’ve ever watched your toddler parroting away to Dora the Explorer you’ll understand). Lingotot classes teach a range of languages including French, Spanish and even Chinese. 
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8. Ballet classes, babyballet.co.uk

babyballet is a fun, award-winning pre-school dance class for girls and boys from 6 months to 6 years.  With a real focus on learning through play, babyballet, which runs across the UK, allows babies, toddlers and young children to enjoy the physical and social benefits of ballet, song and dance in a safe, caring, positive and informal environment. Little ones will build their confidence and social skills, while developing basic ballet technique, coordination, musicality, balance, posture and rhythm. babyballet’s fully qualified teachers are joined in class by the babyballet bears, Twinkle & Teddy, who help to encourage all the little stars to interact and share as they learn to dance without any pressure.  There is also a line of merchandise and parties available. 
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9. First aid classes, nct.org.uk

If you’ve already gone into new mum anxious mode, checking smoke alarms and practising infant choking positions, sign up for a first aid class run by the National Childbirth Trust and the British Red Cross. The course covers health issues such as loss of consciousness, CPR, choking, bleeding, burns, high temperatures and meningitis. 
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10. Gym classes, tumbletots.com

While we’re not expecting your pre-schooler to be doing back flips and triple flip twists quite yet, a Tumbletots class will encourage him to climb, jump, and roll while learning how to control movements more precisely. It uses soft play equipment for children to clamber over and under and it’s a great way to make friends.
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11. Cooking classes, kiddycook.co.uk

Encourage your toddler to help prepare food and he’s more likely to have a healthy relatonship with food. During each Kiddycook session the children have fun creating recipes, which encourages them to learn about good food and explore new flavours in a fun way. Its Cookie Tots classes are perfect for 2-4 year olds and after creating a dish, children then join in with music, games and activities based around preparing and enjoying food.
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12. Football classes, littlekickers.co.uk

If you can see your little one as the next Beckham or Rooney, sign up for a Little Kickers football class. They run a Little Kicks class for children aged 18 months to three years, and then you graduate to the next level – Junior Kickers which goes from 2 years to 3½ years. Classes will help your little one gain better body control and co-ordination skills. 
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13. Signing classes, singandsign.com

As well as being a fun way to connect with your baby or toddler, Sing and Sign classes can help your little one communicate with you before she starts speaking. She’ll learn words such as “milk”, “hot”, “thank you” and “more” but there’s also plenty of singing and games. 
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14. Arts and crafts classes, thecreationstation.co.uk

If you’ve experienced the *joy* of peeling dried Play-Doh off the kitchen floor, you’ll appreciate the Creation Station. It offers arts and crafts classes for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers without the mess for you.

 
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