Positive Toileting Guidance in the Early Years

Principles and responsibilities

Good practice and general advice

Section 1.11
Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interests, and development of each child in their care, and must use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all areas of learning and development. Practitioners working with the youngest children are expected to ensure a strong foundation for children’s development in the three prime areas.

Section 1.15 
In planning and guiding what children learn, practitioners must reflect on the different rates at which children are developing and adjust their practice appropriately

1.16 – re Key Person 
..The key person must seek to engage and support parents and/or carers in guiding their child’s development at home. They should also help families engage with more specialist support if appropriate.

The EYFS is statutory. It would be developmentally normal for children aged 3 and 4 in nursery class to still be developing in bladder & bowel control. It would be unfathomable to ask parents to come in to do a language intervention / speak for their child / console a child who was upset / and therefore the same should be applied to toileting. 

  • Care – Birth To 5 Matters
  • Effective early years provision encompasses and pays as much attention to children’s care as it does to play and learning.
  • Effective provision includes planning for and reflecting on physical care events such as dressing, washing, feeding, sleeping, changing and toileting.
  • Respectful caregiving requires thoughtful organisation.
  • Respectful caregiving requires respectful interactions.


Being an early years practitioner means being part of a caring profession, at the core of which is caring for and about babies and young children from birth to 5 and beyond. This involves having feelings of concern, responsibility and love for children, and also engaging in nurturing behaviours — being watchful, protective and acting with care, affection and regard for children and their rights to ethical treatment. This concept of care requires that all early years professionals give careful attention to what they do, and do what is in the best interests of each child.

ERIC have produced a brilliant toolkit available here

The Provider must offer priority to vulnerable children, including those who are looked after children.

The Provider must ensure positive attitudes to diversity and difference so that:

  • All families feel included, safe and valued
  • All children are treated as individuals, listened to and respected, and are not discriminated against in any way
  • Appropriate planning to meet the needs of children from minority ethnic backgrounds including those learning English as an additional language
  • Any expression of prejudice or discrimination by adults or children is challenged

Toilet Training

Providers must have regard to the Equalities Act 2010, the welfare requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage, and the Special Educational Needs and Disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years (January 2015) as they apply to children with toileting needs.

As with all developmental milestones in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), there is wide variation in the time at which children master the skills involved in being fully toilet trained. For a variety of reasons children in the EYFS may:

  • be fully toilet trained across all settings
  • have been fully toilet trained but regress for a little while in response to the stress and excitement of beginning Foundation Stage One or Two
  • be fully toilet trained at home but prone to accidents in new settings
  • be on the point of being toilet trained but require reminders and encouragement
  • not be toilet trained at all but likely to respond quickly to a well-structured toilet training programme
  • be fully toilet trained but have a serious disability or learning difficulties
  • have delayed onset of full toilet training in line with other development delays but will probably master these skills during the Foundation Stage
  • have SEND and might require help (during the Foundation Stage and beyond) with all or some aspects of personal care such as washing, dressing or toileting


Nicola Theobald – (General and Nursery School Enquiries)

Deborah Brown – (General Enquiries)

Dawn Butler – (General Enquiries)

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