Toilet training, wetting and soiling

Health Visiting and School Nursing - Toilet training, wetting and soiling

Toilet training, wetting and soiling information, support and advice for all ages.

If your child has not been fully successful with toilet training and continues to have accidents once they start school your 0–19 services can offer continued support.

Daytime wetting affects 1 in 75 children aged 5 years and above. It is usual for younger children to have wetting accidents as part of the toilet training process but as children get older, daytime wetting can be more difficult to manage at school or in social situations.

The following are ways in which you as a parent can support your child:

  • Encourage your child to drink regularly through the day, 6-8 water based drinks each day. For more information on recommended fluid intake for children, see: Water UK.
  • Continue to give younger children prompts.
  • Constipation can be the cause of wetting, provide a balanced diet which includes fibre, cereals, fruit and vegetables. See: NHS Choices – Digestive health.
  • Check that your child’s school allows easy access to drinking water and to the toilets.
  • Encourage your child to wait before getting off the toilet to make sure that they have fully emptied their bladder.
  • Above all stay calm and relaxed.

Seek professional support from your 0–19 public health nurse if problems persist. Your 0 – 19 public health nurse can complete a professional assessment to identify why the daytime wetting is happening and offer support to resolve or manage it.

Bedwetting (known as Nocturnal Enuresis) is a common childhood condition affecting an estimated 500,000 children and young people in the United Kingdom (UK). Bedwetting usually stops happening as your child gets older without the need for any treatment. Please be aware that bedwetting is not the child’s fault, it happens during sleep and there is no conscious awareness that it is happening.

The following are ways in which you as a parent can support your child:

  • Drinking a good amount of fluid is crucial in training the bladder to fill and empty – encourage your child to visit the toilet to empty their bladder regularly throughout the day.
  • Encourage your child to drink water based drinks as some fizzy drinks, tea, coffee and dark squashes such as blackcurrant can have a diuretic effect on the bladder causing the need to go to the toilet more often.
  • Constipation can be the cause of bedwetting, provide a balanced diet which includes fibre, cereals, fruit and vegetables.
  • A bedtime routine of going to the toilet as part of getting ready for bed and again just before settling down to sleep – should ensure that the bladder is empty before going to sleep.
  • Ensure that your child has easy access to the toilet during the night. Perhaps a night light or a light switch near the bed, or leaving the bathroom light on can be useful.
  • A good winding down routine each night, for example, a bath or shower, some relaxed quiet time, perhaps reading a book before settling off to sleep.
  • Try to avoid ‘waking’ or ‘lifting’ your child overnight to go to the toilet – whilst this may result in a dry bed it does not help them recognise and wake to the sensation of a full bladder on their own.
  • Remain calm and positive and supportive of your child – remember it is not their fault.

Seek professional support from your 0 – 19 public health nurse if the problem persists. Your 0-19 public health nurse can complete a professional assessment to identify why the bedwetting is happening and offer support to resolve or mange it.

Please note that much of the above information has been resourced from the ERIC website. The ERIC website is an excellent resource for further information, advice and support around this topic.

Soiling is when a child regularly poos their pants. If they are already potty-trained, the soiling is often because they are badly constipated.

You may feel angry or frustrated when your child keeps pooing themselves. But they aren’t likely to be doing it on purpose and may not even realise its happening. Causes of soiling, advice about when to seek medical help and treatment from a GP and things to try at home can be found on the NHS choices website

There is also a lot of useful information about young children and school aged children soiling, and a ‘poo guide’ on the ERIC website.

For advice on toilet training your child.


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