Why has starting nursery set my toddler’s potty training back?

With two big changes, there are many reasons starting nursery can see potty training setbacks

Potty training and starting nursery

Both potty training and starting nursery are big milestones for your toddler, so it’s no wonder potty training can face setbacks when starting nursery

potty training at nursery

Starting a nursery or preschool brings huge changes for your toddler, with a whole host of new surroundings and new routines. It’s hardly surprising therefore that some toddlers experience a few setbacks when it comes to potty training when they first start nursery.

The reasons for accidents at nursery include:

Strange environment

With so much new to learn and get used to, your little one might get a bit flustered when they feel the urge to go.

It’s easy at nursery to get distracted, and they may be unsure who to ask. Some toddlers may feel a bit nervous about using the toilets at nursery. With a little time and practise they will soon adapt to the new setting.


The first few days and weeks of nursery or preschool can leave little ones feeling exhausted - and when they're tired accidents are more likely to happen. Try introducing a new routine that includes visiting the loo before you leave for nursery and as soon as you get home, or even just before you leave nursery.

Holding on

For various reasons, some little ones simply don’t like using unfamiliar facilities and choose to 'hold on' until they get home, which can result in accidents. Try to get your toddler to help you understand why they feel they don’t want to use the toilets at nursery and you can try and build their confidence with help from staff.

Top tips for starting nursery and staying dry:

  • Show your little one the toilet facilities at their preschool and explain how everything works.
  • Help them understand what to do if they need a wee at nursery.
  • Ensure their teacher understands what stage they are at and what their needs are, making them aware of cues your toddler gives when needing to go.
  • Remember to dress your toddler in clothes that are easy for them to pull up and down.
  • Pack spare clothes just in case.
  • If it helps, try pulls up in the early days of nursery

Remember that nursery staff often have a lot of potty training experience and can be a great asset in the transition.

Why has starting nursery set my toddler’s potty training back?