Potty training a non-verbal toddler can be a unique challenge, but with the right strategies and understanding, it can also be a rewarding journey. Non-verbal communication doesn’t mean a lack of communication; it simply requires different methods to interpret and interact with your child. This article provides a guide on how to potty train a non-verbal toddler, from recognising readiness signs to celebrating milestones and maintaining progress.

Key Takeaways

  • Identify signs of readiness for potty training through non-verbal cues and signs, such as staying dry for longer periods or showing interest in the bathroom.
  • Utilise visual support like charts and sign language to communicate the process and encourage your child to express their needs.
  • Create a supportive and stress-free environment by placing potties in accessible locations and making them inviting.
  • Address challenges with patience, understanding that resistance and accidents are part of the learning process, and remain consistent across different settings.
  • Celebrate each success, no matter how small, and track progress in a pressure-free manner, adapting your approach as needed for setbacks.

Understanding Your Non-Verbal Toddler’s Potty Training Journey

Recognising Readiness Signs

Hey there, lovely mums! Let’s chat about spotting those tell-tale signs that your little one might be ready to start their potty training adventure. It’s a bit like detective work, but instead of solving mysteries, we’re on the lookout for wee clues that our toddlers are ready to say goodbye to nappies.

First things first, keep an eye out for a bit of a dry spell – and I’m not talking about the weather! If your tot’s nappy is staying dry for longer periods, especially after naps, that’s a big thumbs up. They might also start to show a dislike for wetness, which is a super sign they’re becoming aware of their own body.

Remember, every child is unique, so while one might be raring to go, another might take a little longer to show these signs. And that’s perfectly okay!

Here’s a handy list of readiness signs to look out for:

  • Consistent dry periods
  • Dislike for wetness
  • Increased interest in the loo
  • Telling you when they’ve done a poo
  • Pulling at a wet or dirty nappy

Patience is key, darlings. Once you’ve ticked off a few of these signs, your little one might just be ready to embark on their potty training journey. And remember, there’s no rush – they’ll get there when they’re good and ready!

Creating a Supportive Environment

Mums, we all know that potty training can be a bit of a rollercoaster, especially with our non-verbal little ones. It’s not just about the potty itself, it’s about creating a nurturing space where our toddlers feel safe and supported. A supportive environment is key to a successful potty training journey, and it’s something we can all create with a bit of love and care.

First things first, let’s make sure our home is a judgement-free zone. We want to encourage our toddlers, not pressure them. Here’s a little checklist to help you along:

  • Keep calm and stay positive, even when there are little accidents.
  • Celebrate every tiny victory with heaps of praise and cuddles.
  • Be patient and give your child the time they need to get comfortable with the new routine.

For our little ones, especially those who might be autistic children, consistency is super important. They thrive on routine, so try to stick to regular potty times. And remember, every child is different, so what works for one might not work for another. It’s all about finding what clicks for your toddler.

Remember, the goal isn’t just to get them using the potty, but to help them feel confident and independent while doing so.

Lastly, don’t forget to involve the whole family in the process. Big brothers and sisters can be great role models, and their involvement can make your toddler feel like they’re part of a team. It’s all about creating that warm, fuzzy feeling of togetherness. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and make potty training a great experience for everyone!

Establishing a Routine

Ah, routines! They’re the bread and butter of any successful potty training process, aren’t they? Establishing a potty training routine is like laying down the tracks for a smooth-running train. It’s all about creating a schedule that your little one can get to know and follow. Consistency is key here, mums!

Start by setting specific times for toilet training attempts, especially after meals or during times when your toddler is likely to have a bowel movement. Remember, every child is different, so you might need to tweak the schedule as you go along. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to get you started:

  • Wake up and straight to the potty
  • Potty time after breakfast
  • Before and after naptime
  • After lunch
  • Before bedtime

Keep in mind it’s not just about getting your toddler to use the potty but helping them understand their own body signals.

And don’t forget, the toileting routine isn’t just for the daytime. Ensuring a potty visit before bedtime can help prevent nighttime accidents and reinforce the day’s learning. So, let’s cheer each other on as we guide our little ones through the potty training process, step-by-step!

Communication Strategies for Potty Training

How to Potty Train a kid with Autism

Using Visual Aids and Signs

When it comes to potty training our little non-verbal munchkins, visual prompts can be a game-changer! Visual cues like charts or sequences can make all the difference by showing them the steps in a way that words sometimes can’t. Imagine a colourful chart on the bathroom wall, guiding your toddler through each part of the process – from pulling down their trousers to washing hands after. It’s like a little roadmap to success!

Here’s a tip: Keep it simple and fun. You can use stickers to mark each important step they complete, turning it into a little celebration. And don’t forget the wipes – they’re essential for quick clean-ups and can be part of the visual sequence too.

Creating a visual schedule can help establish a routine, and for our non-verbal kiddos, this consistency is key. They might not be able to tell you they need to go, but with a schedule, they’ll know it’s time to try. Plus, using something like the picture exchange communication system can empower them to communicate their needs without words.

  • Visual Sequence Chart: Tape it near the toilet.
  • Sticker Chart: Use to mark completed steps.
  • Wipes: Include in the visual for clean-ups.

Remember, every child is unique, so tailor your visual aids to what delights and motivates your little one. Whether it’s their favourite cartoon character or a special theme, make it resonate with them.

Encouraging Non-Verbal Cues

Potty training with non-verbal kiddos means learning to read their signals. They might not use words, but they have other ways of saying, “Mum, I need to go!”. Keep an eye out for those subtle signs, and you’ll find potty training a whole lot easier.

Watch for these signs:

  • Fidgeting or restless movements: Squirming or the classic potty dance!
  • Pulling at clothes or nappies: Trying to get things off usually means something needs changing.
  • Changes in facial expression: A look of concentration or discomfort might indicate a full bladder or bowel.
  • Seeking quiet or hiding: Some children need privacy when they need to go.

Remember, every child is unique, so learn your little one’s own special cues!

Try Simple Sign Language

For our speech-delayed tots, using a simple sign for ‘potty’ can be a game-changer. Consistency is key here – use the sign every time you head to the loo, and encourage them to mimic you. It won’t be long before they’re using the sign to tell you when it’s time.

Team Effort

Get the whole family involved! Siblings can help spot the signs and support the routine. Potty training is a big accomplishment, and everyone’s help makes it easier.

Involving Caregivers and Siblings

Potty training is a family affair! Getting everyone on the same page can make the whole process smoother for your little one. Here’s how to turn caregivers and siblings into your potty-training cheer squad:


  • Keep it consistent: Share your potty schedule and any visual aids or signs you use with anyone who helps care for your child. Consistency is key!
  • Cue detectives: Explain your child’s non-verbal signals that mean they need the toilet. Caregivers can help spot these and take your child to the potty.
  • Praise party: Ask caregivers to use the same rewards and praise that you do. This reinforces those positive feelings about using the potty.
  • Stay in touch: Talk regularly about progress and any challenges. This keeps everyone on track.


  • Potty playtime: Dolls and teddies can “learn” to use the potty with your older child as the teacher.
  • The best example: Let older siblings use the toilet when the child who’s potty training is watching. It shows them how it’s done!
  • Super sticker helpers: Siblings can put stickers on a chart for potty wins, making it a shared success.
  • Bookworms: Find potty-themed picture books for siblings to share with their younger brother or sister.

More Tips:

  • Picture this: Give everyone the same visual aids you use, so your child gets the same messages wherever they are.
  • We’re in this together: Remind everyone that it’s a team effort. Celebrate every little step forward!

Remember, it’s not just about getting out of diapers; it’s about building healthy habits and behaviour. So, involve everyone, have a giggle, and celebrate each tiny triumph together!

Setting Up for Success: The Right Equipment

Choosing the Right Potty

Alright, lovely mums, let’s chat about picking the perfect potty for our little treasures. It’s a big step, and we want to make it as smooth as a baby’s bottom, don’t we? Choosing the right potty can make a world of difference in your toddler’s journey to becoming a toilet-using superstar.

First things first, you’ll want to consider a potty that’s just the right size for your tot. Too big and they might find it daunting, too small and it’s just not practical. Some parents swear by a simple potty chair that’s easy to move around, while others prefer a toilet seat that fits snugly onto the family loo. If your little one is a bit of a wriggler, a potty with a backrest could be a game-changer.

Here’s a little tip: keep an eye out for a potty that’s easy to clean because, let’s face it, there will be poo and poop, and we want the clean-up to be a breeze. A removable bowl is a godsend for quick washes between uses.

Remember, the goal is to make your child feel comfortable and secure. If they’re happy with their potty, they’re more likely to use it, which means fewer puddles for you to find!

And don’t forget the accessories! A step stool can help your independent little one climb up to the toilet seat with confidence. Stock up on some soft toilet paper that’s gentle for your toddler’s skin, and consider using visual aids like PECS to help them understand the process. It’s all about making potty time a positive experience.

  • Potty chair or toilet training seat adapter
  • Size and comfort
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Backrest for support
  • Step stool for independence
  • Soft toilet paper
  • Visual aids like PECS

So, take a deep breath, arm yourself with patience, and let’s embark on this potty training adventure together. With the right potty, you’re already halfway there!

Location, Location, Location

Once you’ve chosen the perfect potty, the next step is to find the ideal spot for it. Location really is everything when it comes to potty training. You want to pick a place that’s easily accessible for your little one, where they feel comfortable and secure. It’s a bit like finding the perfect spot for your favourite armchair, where you can relax with a cuppa and your headphones on, away from the hustle and bustle.

  • At home, try to keep the potty in the same place so your toddler knows exactly where to go when nature calls. A bathroom is usually best, but if that’s not practical, any quiet corner will do as long as it’s consistent.
  • On the go, it’s a good idea to show your child where the toilets are at various places like school, grandma’s house, or the store. This helps them understand that potty time can happen anywhere, not just at home.

Remember, the goal is to make your toddler feel as comfortable as possible with the potty. The right location can make all the difference in building their confidence and independence.

And don’t worry if it takes a little while to get it just right. Potty training is a journey, and every child is unique.

Making the Potty Inviting

Alright, lovely mums, let’s chat about making that potty as inviting as a cosy nook on a rainy day! We want our little ones to feel super comfortable and even a bit excited about using their new throne. Remember, a happy potty space can make all the difference.

Tips for Success

  • Involve your child: Let them pick fancy new underwear or a colourful pull-up. Add a stool for handwashing to make them feel independent. 
  • Pretend play:Have your child teach their toys how to use the potty. Let them add child-friendly decorations to the bathroom.
  • Find the right fit: Get a potty that’s the perfect size for your child. Make sure they can reach it easily.
  • Celebrate the effort: Celebrate even the smallest signals that they need to go, especially for kids on the ASD spectrum.
  • Make it rewarding:Use stickers or a chart to mark their progress and have some potty-time fun!

Overcoming Common Challenges

How to Potty Train a Non-Verbal Toddler

Handling Resistance and Refusal

Oh, the joys of potty training! Just when you think you’re making progress, your little one decides they’re having none of it. Understanding why your toddler is resisting can be a game-changer. Sometimes, it’s not about being stubborn; it could be about discomfort or simply not being ready. But don’t worry, you’re not alone in this journey, and there are ways to navigate these choppy waters.

First things first, take a deep breath and remember that this is a phase that will pass. It’s important to keep calm and avoid turning the potty into a battleground. Here’s a little list of tips that might just make things easier:

  • Reassess your approach and make sure it’s tailored to your child’s needs.
  • Offer choices to empower your little one, like picking out their potty seat.
  • Celebrate the small victories to keep motivation high.

Patience is key. Sometimes, taking a short break and then revisiting potty training can work wonders. It’s all about timing and not pushing too hard.

If you’re facing a wall of resistance, it might be helpful to involve family member and siblings. They can offer a different perspective and support that might just click with your toddler. And remember, consistency is your best friend in this adventure. Keep at it, and before you know it, your little one will be proudly using the potty like a champ!

Dealing with Accidents Gracefully

Accidents are a natural part of the potty training journey, especially with non-verbal toddlers. It’s important to approach these little mishaps with a calm and understanding attitude. Remember, it’s not about the accident, but how we respond to it.

When an accident happens, keep your cool and reassure your little one that it’s okay. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to handle the situation:

  • Stay positive and avoid showing disappointment.
  • Gently clean up and offer comfort.
  • Encourage them to try using the potty next time.
  • Use the opportunity to reinforce the learning process.

Accidents can be learning moments, not setbacks. By maintaining a supportive approach, you help your child feel safe and motivated to keep trying.

It’s also helpful to take into account the sensory sensitivities your child may have. For instance, if they are sensitive to the sound of flushing, avoid doing it while they’re in the bathroom. This can be introduced later, once they’re more comfortable with the process.

Staying Consistent at Daycare and Beyond

When it comes to potty training, especially for little ones who may be on the autism spectrum disorder, consistency is your best friend. It’s like our morning cuppa – we miss it, and the whole day feels off, doesn’t it? Well, the same goes for our toddlers. Keeping a consistent routine, both at home and at daycare, helps them understand what’s expected and when.

Here’s a little checklist to help keep things on track:

  • Chat with the daycare staff to ensure they’re on board with your potty training plan.
  • Provide the daycare with the same visual aids or cues you use at home.
  • Set regular potty breaks at daycare, similar to your home schedule.
  • Keep a change of clothes at daycare, just in case of accidents.

Remember, every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Persistence is key. And when you see progress, celebrate it – it’s a big deal!

If you’re worried about how things are going at daycare, don’t hesitate to have a natter with the staff. They’re there to support you and your baby on this journey. And for the days when things don’t go as planned, take a deep breath. Tomorrow is a new day, with new opportunities to learn and grow.

Celebrating Milestones and Maintaining Progress

Rewarding Successes Big and Small

When it comes to potty training, celebrating every little victory can make a world of difference. A hug or a high-five can be just as meaningful as a tangible reward. It’s all about showing your little one that you notice their efforts and are proud of them.

  • Start with simple verbal praises or claps for their attempts.
  • Gradually introduce a reward chart to track progress and make it fun.
  • Mix up the rewards to keep things exciting – stickers, an extra bedtime story, or a special treat.

Remember, the goal is to make potty training an enjoyable experience. So, keep the atmosphere light and full of encouragement. If they sense your excitement, they’ll be excited too!

It’s essential to tailor the rewards to what your child loves. Some days, a sticker might do the trick, while on others, a little treat could be the highlight of their day. The key is to be flexible and responsive to your child’s needs and preferences. And don’t forget, sometimes the best reward is a cuddle and a big, warm hug!

Tracking Progress Without Pressure

Oh, the joys of potty training! It’s a journey, isn’t it? And when it comes to tracking our little one’s progress, we want to do it without making them feel any pressure. Remember, every child is unique, and they’ll get there in their own sweet time.

One fun way to keep track is by using a potty progress chart. It’s like a little diary of their journey to becoming a potty pro! You can make it as simple or as fancy as you like. Some mums use stickers, others might just tick off a box, and some might even turn to instagram for inspiration on making a chart that’s as cute as it is functional.

It’s not about the destination; it’s all about the journey. Let’s make it a happy and stress-free one for our little stars!

Here’s a little example of what a weekly chart might look like:

  • Monday: 2 successful trips to the potty
  • Tuesday: 1 little accident, but 3 successful trips
  • Wednesday: A full day of dry pants!
  • Thursday: Oops, a couple of accidents, but that’s okay!
  • Friday: 4 successful trips – we’re getting there!

Remember, the chart is just a tool to help us and our toddlers see how they’re doing. It’s not a report card, so no grades here! And if you find your little one is having a tough week, that’s alright. We’ve all been there, and tomorrow is a new day full of new possibilities.

Adapting to Setbacks

Oh, the potty training journey is full of twists and turns, isn’t it? Just when you think you’ve got it all sussed out, a little setback can pop up and make you feel like you’re back to square one. But don’t fret, lovely! Setbacks are a completely normal part of learning any new skill, and potty training is no different. The key is to adapt and overcome, with a sprinkle of patience and a whole lot of love.

Remember, potty training takes time. Each child has their own rhythm, so be patient and celebrate the small wins! If your little one has a few accidents or seems to regress, it’s not a sign of failure. It’s just a little bump in the road. Here’s a wee list of things to keep in mind when you hit a snag:

  • Be relaxed and reassuring; your toddler looks to you for how to react.
  • Revisit the basics and reinforce the routine you’ve established.
  • Use social stories to help your child understand and manage their feelings about potty training.
  • Celebrate the small victories, even if it’s just sitting on the potty without any result.

Remember, setbacks are just temporary. With a bit of creativity and flexibility, you’ll both be back on track in no time. And if you’re ever in doubt, there’s a wealth of advice and shared experiences out there. Pop over to ‘Toddler development’ for some expert tips on engaging your toddler in conversation, and remember to keep it fun and light-hearted. When they lose interest, it’s time to take a break and try again later. You’ve got this!


Potty training a non-verbal toddler can seem like a daunting task, but with patience, understanding, and the right strategies, it can be a rewarding journey for both parent and child. Remember to utilise visual aids like charts, embrace the power of positive reinforcement, and pay close attention to your child’s unique cues and timing. Every child is different, and while some may take to potty training quickly, others may need more time and encouragement. Trust in your child’s ability to learn and in your own instincts as a parent. And above all, celebrate the small victories along the way – each step forward is a triumph in this very personal adventure. Keep the conversation going and share your experiences with other parents navigating the same path – together, we can support each other through the challenges and joys of potty training.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if my non-verbal toddler is ready to start potty training?

Keep an eye out for your child staying dry longer, getting curious about the bathroom, or demonstrating a desire for independence. You can also observe their routines and physical cues that might indicate they need to use the potty.

What are effective communication strategies for non-verbal toddlers during potty training?

Use visual aids like charts to represent the small steps forward in the toileting process, teach them the sign for ‘potty’, and encourage them to use non-verbal cues to express their needs. Consistency and repetition are key.

What type of potty is best for a non-verbal toddler?

Choose a potty that is comfortable and stable for your toddler. Some parents find that having a small potty in a common area, like the living room, helps to spark interest without pressure.

How should I handle resistance or refusal to use the potty?

Stay patient and avoid forcing your child. Offer gentle encouragement and try to make the potty training experience positive and stress-free. Sometimes taking a break and then reintroducing the potty later can help.

How do I maintain consistency with potty training at daycare?

Communicate with your child’s daycare providers about the potty training routine and strategies you’re using at home. Ensure they’re willing to support your approach and provide a consistent experience for your toddler.

What should I do when my non-verbal toddler has an accident?

Handle accidents calmly and reassuringly, without showing disappointment. Clean up together if possible, and gently remind them of the process. Use it as a learning opportunity rather than a setback.


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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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