By Raising Children Network
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Helping your toddler learn how to use a toilet, dress and brush her teeth soon leads to that proud day when she declares, ‘I can do it myself!’

Toddler having his face washed
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It won’t be long before your little one wants to try getting dressed by himself. Let him have a go, offering help only when he asks for it. Pants with elastic waists, open-neck tops and cardigans are the easiest to put on. Also look for clothes with big buttons (not too many) and toggles that are easy for little hands to grasp.


Bath time is playtime for your toddler, when she can pour water, fill cups and splash around.

Even though she can sit securely in the bath now, never leave her alone in the bathroom. She might slip or turn on the hot tap. And remember that drowning is quick, silent and can happen in very shallow water.

Toilet training

Some children are ready to sit on the potty at 18 months. Others don’t show any ‘ready’ signs until they’re closer to three. All children are different, and things will go more smoothly if you can wait until your toddler shows an interest.

Toilet training might take days or months. You might want to start during summer when you can let your child run around naked or with no pants. With pants off, toddlers can really start ‘connecting the dots’ about when they need to go to the potty.

Eventually, all children get the hang of making it to the toilet in time. The key is to stay relaxed and not push your child. Telling him you’re proud of him will make him feel great about every toilet triumph.

Washing hands
Learning to wash hands is a good habit that will come in handy when your child starts using the toilet on her own. In addition to washing hands after using the potty, encourage your toddler to wash her hands before meals. A pump action soap dispenser is easier for her to handle than a slippery bar of soap.


You can read more about toilet training, or check out our illustrated guide to toilet training. If your child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you can also find more information on toilet training for children with ASD.


No-one wants to take their two-year-old to the dentist for anything other than a friendly inspection. The best way to prevent tooth decay is to go easy on sugary food and drink. Sugar rots teeth and is no substitute for healthy, nutritious food. Also try to limit fruit juice or dried fruit snacks (for example, fruit straps), because these might dissolve the tooth enamel surface, and can also cause tooth decay. Whole fruit is better, and water is what kids need most.

To brush teeth, use a smear of toothpaste (try different flavours if necessary) on a soft bristle toothbrush, in the morning and last thing before bed at night.

Adult fluoride toothpaste isn’t recommended for children under two, because too much might discolour permanent adult teeth. Low-fluoride toothpaste is available in child-friendly varieties (lots of sparkles and great flavours!) at the supermarket.


For more information on caring for your child’s developing teeth, you might like to read our articles on teeth development and dental care for toddlers

Sun care

For good health, children need a small burst of sun (even subdued, reflected light works) for as little as 15 minutes each day. In Australia, the sun’s burning UV radiation is strongest from September to April, between 10 am and 3 pm, so try to plan outdoor activities for early morning and late afternoon.

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, and children’s skin burns much more easily than adult skin, so you need to take some basic steps to keep your child safe from the sun

Shade provides some protection from UV radiation, but small children can still be burned by reflected sunshine. Even if you’re sitting in the shade, cover your child with clothes to stop burning, and use sunscreen on any exposed skin. 

A hat is a great way to protect your child from the sun. A full crown hat with a full brim or a neck flap is better than a baseball cap because it provides more shade. Wearing sunglasses will protect your child’s eyes from UV rays. Try to use sunglasses with ‘broad spectrum’ protection, because these block close to 100% of UVB and UVA rays, absorb UV light, and wrap around your child’s eyes.

A sunscreen with the invisible reflective shield of titanium dioxide or zinc will give your child more protection than the regular chemical absorbers.

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  • Newsletter snippet: Toddler daily care: in a nutshell

    By Raising Children Network

    With your help, your toddler is learning the five basics of daily care.

    Toilet training

    • Children’s readiness for toilet training can range from 18 months to three years.
    • Teach your toddler to wash her hands after using the potty and before meals.


    • Brush teeth in the morning and at bedtime using a low-fluoride toothpaste and soft bristle toothbrush.
    • Prevent tooth decay by limiting sugary foods and drinks.

    Sun care

    • Children need a little sunshine every day – just 15 minutes will do.
    • Avoid 10 am-3 pm when UV radiation is strongest.
    • Use sunscreen, protective clothing and shade to keep your toddler protected from the sun.


    • Let your toddler have a go at dressing herself.
    • Large buttons, elastic waists and open-neck tops are easiest.


    • Bath time is playtime for your toddler.
    • Never leave your toddler alone in the bathroom.

    This article is an extract only. For more information, visit

    Sourced from the Raising Children Network's comprehensive and quality-assured Australian parenting website,

  • Last Updated 23-12-2011
  • Last Reviewed 23-12-2011