3.4 Diapering and Toileting

Diapering and toilet training young children involves some of the most important routines a child will encounter in an early years setting. During this time children are developing autonomy and are gaining power through their ability to control their toileting needs. It is essential that educators and caregivers work together to develop a consistent plan for supporting a child, both at home and in an early years setting. A trusting, calm, and supportive environment is necessary for a child to be successful with toilet training. These care routines can be established during earlier diapering patterns.

Very young children will respond positively to calm and caring adults changing their diapers. This is a great opportunity for educators to bond with children as one on one moments with children in early years settings may be rare. Educators can engage with children by explaining what they are doing, by making eye contact, by signing songs during diapering routines, and by providing opportunities for children to help with certain tasks to complete the diapering or toileting process. This may include the child carrying diapers to the change table or moving a footstool over to the toilet so the child may independently sit on the toilet without being lifted.

“Accepted norms of toilet training relate more to cultural differences than scientific evidence” (Kiddoo, 2012).


Read the following resource for families regarding immunizations for young children:

It is important to remember that children are in control of their bodies and will be successful with toilet training if they are treated with respect. If a child refuses to have their diaper changed or sit on the toilet educators need to find ways to provide choices for children.

Children should be approached individually, rather than inviting them across a classroom to sit on the toilet or have their diaper changed. Often children will be engaged in an activity and are not ready to have their diaper changed. If a child refuses, let them know you will change someone else’s diaper and come back when they are ready. A child may want to bring a book or toy to the toilet or to the change table for comfort. This may make the transition easier for the child and the adult.

Diapering and Toileting Routines

Another important consideration for educators engaged in diapering and toilet training young children relates to safe and hygienic conditions. Along with developing caring and trusting relationships, diapering and toileting routines must be carried out in a manner that keeps children physically safe and follows protocol for maintaining a healthy environment. Never leave a child unattended on a change table as they may fall from the elevated surface.

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Please review the sample diaper changing procedure for early years settings from the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.


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Holistic Care and Wellness in Early Years Settings Copyright © 2023 by Barbara Jackson and Sheryl Third is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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