August 24, 2021 4 min read

Getting your child ready for back to school, even if they’re still potty training

You had every intention of potty training your child before the first day of school. But, the long summer days just didn’t go as planned. Trust us when we tell you – you are not the only parent that’s scrambling to get their child potty trained for back-to-school!

With school right around the corner, here’s a guide for doing the best you can manage back to school and potty training your child.

Take the First Step

You don’t have to completely potty train your child before they head off to preschool. Instead, you want to do your best to get them ready to spend around 4 hours away from home, asking to use the toilet when they need to. In other words, if they can manage at home for a few hours, over time, they’ll be able to adapt to the new environment and learn to communicate their needs with their teachers at school.

Remember, potty training is a gradual process that takes place over a few weeks or months (sometimes years) rather than all at once. So long as they’re prepared for a few hours away from home, they’re as good as ready.

Check-in with the School

Although most preschools make it mandatory for children to be potty trained, they’re still used to supporting newly potty-trained children by giving them reminders to use the toilet. Accidents are common in this age group, and your school should be supportive and understanding that they happen.

Talk to the teachers and support staff about your potty training process as well as any concerns you have.

Prepare for New Environments

When a child is at preschool, they have this whole new environment to learn about and get excited by. They’re going to make new friends, learn new activities, and are going to be constantly stimulated by their surroundings.

Because they’re having so much fun and engaged by all the new people, it might be harder for them to listen to their bodies. But, they’ll get there over time. So we just want you to know that it’s not uncommon for toddlers to do well at home but poorly at school, or vice versa. This is a natural part of the development process.

Pack Extra Clothes 

Your child will eventually get used to the new environment and remember to use the potty when they need it. But, in the meantime pack extra sets of clothes and underwear in your child’s cubby. Make sure the school knows they’re there, and if your child has changed from when you dropped them off in the morning, take home the soiled clothes. The teacher will probably remember to give them to you, but you should be on top of it, just in case.

If accidents make you feel especially guilty, consider giving the teachers a thank you card from time to time to show your appreciation!

Just keep in mind that some schools will require you to come in if there’s been a #2 accident.

Get Used to the Space

If you can, tour the school before the first day. While you walk around with your child, make sure they know where the bathroom is, who their teacher is, and what to do if they need to use the potty.

Include Rewards

A lot of children respond well to reward-based potty training. This point is a tad controversial, but since you’re short on time, you might skip the controversy and include rewards into your method.

Your goal is to help your child go a few hours without an accident, even if you have to use stickers or treats to help them do so. You can offer your toddler rewards in the days or weeks leading up to back-to-school, and then continue the system once they start preschool.

Keep your Sleep Schedule

You want to make sure your child keeps up a good sleep schedule as they head into preschool. 

The goal is to have them prepared for a few hours away at school, not to be fully potty trained. So if they have to wear diapers during the nighttime or the rest of the day that they’re not in school, that’s OK!

Help your child get a good night’s sleep in the days leading up to school, and especially while they’re in school. One way to do this is to use bedwetting protection at night. They can wear a diaper and/or use a bedwetting mat. Either way, make sure they are comfortable and dry, even if they have an accident. An effective bedwetting mat can do that for your child and make cleaning up a lot easier on you. That way you both get better sleeps at night!

Child playing with blocks

You've Got This!

If your child stays dry while they’re at school, that’s great! Even if they aren’t fully potty trained for back to school, they will make improvements over time.

The first few days or weeks back to school and potty training might be rocky, with more accidents than you’re hoping for, but as they get used to the new schedule and environment, they’ll become more and more potty-independent.

If you’re looking for something to make your life easier as your toddler learns overnight training, consider investing in abedwetting mat. We have a few sizes to choose from, each of which can be useful at different stages of potty training development, and each of which will keep your child, and their bedding, dry!


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