Potty training at daycare

Potty training at daycare
Your child is ready to be potty trained! What will happen at daycare?

Potty training is an important developmental milestone that children usually reach between the ages of 2 and 4. When a toddler is ready to be potty trained, it’s best if the parents and daycare educators work together to make the learning process as smooth as possible.

Establish a potty routine

At daycare, the daily routine will help your child learn to use the potty or toilet regularly. An educator will prompt your child to go to the potty or toilet at specific times, like before their morning and afternoon snack, before going outside, after lunch, before and after nap time, etc. They can also bring your child to the potty if needed.

To help the educator schedule these bathroom breaks at the right times, tell them what your little one does at home when they need to go (e.g., fidget, jump, grab their genitals). That way, the educator will have an easier time interpreting your toddler’s cues.

You should also let them know when and how often your toddler goes to the potty or toilet at home. The educator can try to mimic your home routine to ensure continuity in your child’s training.

Potty or toilet training?

Some toddlers are intimidated by a full-sized toilet, so it’s a good idea to ask your child which they prefer. It’s important to respect your child’s choice so that potty training goes smoothly.

How do you know if your child is ready to be potty trained?

Here are some signs that your child is ready to start potty training:

Even if a child begins potty training with their parents, the daycare educator can support their learning and continue what was started at home.
  • Their diaper stays clean for two hours or more.
  • They partially undress without your help.
  • They tell you when their diaper is full (e.g., they say “pee” or “poo”) or seem uncomfortable in a dirty diaper.
  • They follow you to the bathroom and seem interested in what you’re doing.
  • They can go up and down stairs and squat and stand up.
  • They can express their needs. For instance, they say, “Want milk!”
  • They want to take off their diaper and wear underwear.

Sometimes, it’s the parents who notice that their child is ready to be potty trained; other times, it’s the educator. If a daycare educator suspects that your toddler is ready to be potty trained, they’ll discuss it with you and get your opinion. If you think it’s time, you can set up a potty chair at home and read your child stories about potty training.

However, it’s important to let your child set the pace. Don’t pressure them to become potty trained. If you feel like your child’s educator is being too insistent, discuss it with them. For instance, you can say, “I understand that you’re excited for my daughter to be potty trained. I’m excited, too! But I don’t think she’s quite ready yet. I’d rather wait to make sure the learning process is as smooth as possible.” Communicating and working with the educator will contribute to your toddler’s well-being.

To learn more, read our potty training fact sheet.

Diapers vs. underwear at daycare

In a group setting, training pants or diapers can make things easier, and your child may feel more at ease.

Generally, a child who is being potty trained can wear underwear at daycare. During this transition period, you can decide whether to dress your child in cloth underwear or training pants (e.g., Pull Ups®). However, early in the learning process, the educator may request that your child wear a diaper or training pants during naps and outings.

If the educator seems uncomfortable with your toddler wearing cloth underwear to daycare, discuss it with them and find out why. Since the educator is aware of your child’s current abilities, their opinion is valuable. By working together, you’ll have an easier time finding a solution. Plus, transitioning from diapers to training pants to underwear gives your child more opportunities to succeed.

To make potty training easier, dress your child in clothes that are easy to remove (e.g., pants and skirts with an elastic waistband). Avoid overalls, zippers, snaps, and belts. If you don’t mind and the daycare approves, you can also let your toddler spend the day in underwear. That way, they’ll have fewer clothes to remove when they go to the potty.

Inconsistencies at home and daycare

Your child may become potty trained more quickly in one setting than another. Some children are very motivated to use the potty at daycare because they see their friends do it. Others are resistant unless they’re at home.

Try not to worry and keep encouraging your child. It’s important to go at your child’s pace. Don’t insist, otherwise they may feel stressed instead of motivated. Within a few months, the situation should resolve itself.

However, potty-trained kids can sometimes start having accidents in response to important life events, such as the birth of a new baby, a parental separation, or a group change at daycare. Don’t worry if your toddler experiences this type of regression. As time passes, everything should return to normal.

Things to keep in mind

  • Both at home and at daycare, it’s important to wait until your child is ready before you start potty training.
  • Daycare educators should work with parents to ensure that potty training is consistent and pressure-free.
  • In the early stages of learning, diapers and training pants are useful for daycare naps and outings.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: François Couture, early childhood consultant, CASIOPE
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: November 2021


Photo: GettyImages/Saklakova


Sources and references

Note: The links to other websites are not updated regularly, and some URLs may have changed since publication. If a link is no longer valid, please use search engines to find the relevant information.

  • Bernard-Bonnin, Anne-Claude. Devenir propre : petits et grands tracas. Montreal, Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2010, 64 pp.
  • Doré, Nicole and Danielle Le Hénaff. From Tiny Tot to Toddler: A practical guide for parents from pregnancy to age two. Quebec City, Institut national de santé publique du Québec. www.inspq.qc.ca
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. “Toilet learning.” 2018. www.caringforkids.cps.ca
  • Vekemans, Gaëlle. L’ABC de la santé des enfants. 2nd ed., Montreal, Les Éditions La Presse, 2016, 416 pp.

Books for kids

  • Battault, Paule, and Anouk Ricard. Petit manuel pour aller sur le pot. Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 2014, 14 pp.
  • Bisinski, Pierrick, and Alex Sanders. Tous les cacas. Paris, L’école des loisirs, 2008, 32 pp.
  • D’Aoust, Louise, and Emanuel Audet. Fafounet et le petit pot. Montreal, Éditions les Malins, 2016, 31 pp.
  • Hahn, Cyril. Un pipi dans la nuit. Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, Éditions de l’Élan vert, 2014.
  • Van Genechten, Guido. Peek-A-Poo: What’s In Your Diaper? Clavis Publishing, 2010.