The Ultimate Guide for Potty Training Your Toddler: How to Potty Train and Potty Training Tips
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I don’t know what I hate more: Colic or Potty Training.
They’re both up there.
My first experience potty training did not go so well.
I am about to have my second potty training experience when we train my son this summer. (wish me luck)
We tried everything in the book (with my daughter) and nothing would stick.
I knew she knew how to do it…She just didn’t want to do it.
My husband laughs because the only thing he remembers about potty training is me lecturing my daughter about how she needs to be a big girl (big no-no) and learn to go potty in the big potty while my daughter just stared up at me on the toilet not understanding a lick of what I’m saying.
She couldn’t give two craps. (literally).
It took several months to train her and when she finally learned, she hated pooping in the potty, so that took another 2 months and lots of panties being thrown out.
I wish you the best with your potty training experience, and maybe you can find something helpful here!
By the end of my potty training experience, I learned a few tips that are super helpful when starting to potty train your child.
Tips for Potty Training
Don’t start before they are ready.
You might have heard this a lot, but it is so true!
If you’re kiddo isn’t ready, they won’t do it. No matter how much they understand, no matter how much you try to bribe them, and no matter how much candy you promise. They just won’t. They have to be ready. Especially if you want to do it in like 3 days.
I know for a fact that we did not wait until my daughter was ready. We would try for a few days without any luck, so we’d wait another couple months and try again.
I understand the frustration of really wanting them to do it and they’re just not ready. This is why with my second go around, I am not pushing it at all!
They might have anxiety
Your kiddo might have some anxiety about going to the bathroom, which is why I think my daughter struggled so much. I tried to help her through it, but she was 2 ½ so I did the best I could.
I’ve heard these books can help:
I Can’t, I Won’t, No Way!: A Book For Children Who Refuse to Poop
It Hurts When I Poop! a Story for Children Who Are Scared to Use the Potty
If you get stressed, their stressed
I felt super stressed when trying to potty train my daughter, and I think it was because I was 8 months pregnant with my son and I really, really, really wanted her to be potty trained before he was born!
Like so bad, probably too bad.
If you’re stressed, they will also feel stressed, and it’s probably not going to work.
Don’t feel like it HAS to be done by ______
One way to alleviate stress is to not worry about trying to get it done by a certain time.
For me it was getting it done before my son was born, but a lot of moms feel pressure to finish potty training by 2 ½ or 3 or before their neighbor’s kid.
Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. Every kid develops at their own pace.
It doesn’t matter how smart they are, or if they walked when they were 6 months old. They’ll do it when they’re ready.
In order to get them ready for the potty, it’s a good idea to start talking about the potty.
Ask your child if they want to do it.
Tell them how you go potty, or their brother and/or sister go potty.
Talk about buying panties or underwear.
Let them see you go potty. Just make it a regular thing that you talk about in their life.
You could also read some potty books like:
Daniel Tiger Goes to the Potty
The Potty Book for Girls (and boys)
Accidents will happen, and I’ve learned that the worst thing you can do is shame your kid if they have an accident.
You want to explain that it’s incorrect, but in a loving way. Shaming them will get you absolutely nowhere.
This just causes anxiety, and fear which is not a good environment for learning.
What you Need
Potty Training Supplies
There are a few things that would be nice and/or important to have when starting to potty train. Let’s talk about those first.
I feel like potty training doesn’t fully become real until I buy some underwear with my kid’s favorite characters. My boy loves Paw Patrol and my girl loves Frozen.
I recommend buying some they like, or even letting them pick them out because they are less likely to want to get them dirty/wet. However, that being said, this did not work for my daughter. She didn’t care!
Training underwear. These are not quite panties and not quite diapers. It’s great to train in. (discussed in more detail below).
A Small Potty or A Potty Seat
You can use a kid potty or a kid seat cover that goes on the toilet.
Starting out, it might be easier for their little minds to comprehend going on a potty their size. It’s less daunting. Just make sure they know not to “play” in the potty. It’s not a toy, or a dish for their cheerios.
The only downside to the kid potty is that you have to clean it out every time they go, and they don’t get used to using a full toilet.
However, it is nice to have to take on the road with you for those rough times, which will happen.
*There are so many to choose from, don’t get too overwhelmed, a simple one will do. The one above is the one we used.
If you get a toddler seat cover for your adult sized toilet, then they can learn to go on the big toilet and not fall in.
OR you can also just get nothing and show them how to not fall in, or let them fall in. (I won’t tell)
We tried both.
I think it’s easier if they learn on the toilet so that when you’re out in public, they aren’t afraid to go. This will happen, unless you want to be stuck indoors the rest of your life.
I would also have a kid potty as a backup and to take on trips in case issues arise.
Stool (Not the poop kind)
Buy a stool, if you haven’t already, so they can wash their hands at the sink by themselves.
The more they can do for themselves, the more responsible they will feel and the quicker they’ll be able to do it on their own. The ones that fold away are my favorite.
The Squatty Potty is a good company for all your “potty” needs! I love their products. They have everything from stools, toilet foam (an alternative to wiping), toilet spray, and bathroom accessories.
Several of their accessories can make it more enjoyable for your kiddos to go potty.
Depending on what strategy you choose to use, you may or may not need pull-ups.
Another cool thing to get would be the glow in the dark pull ups. Kids love those. They are more expensive than regular pull ups. We used pampers. We really liked them and they worked great!
Night Time Pull-ups
Night time pull-ups are a little thicker and absorbent than the training ones. It’s good to have these at night so they know they’re still training, but then they don’t wet the bed. (Depending on what training you’re doing).
I have not read many potty books. I have had a few recommended to me, and I’ve only read one. I think this is because I get too overwhelmed with what to do, so I just wing it instead. Haha…not always the best option.
Here were the books recommended to me, maybe one speaks to you:
Potty Training Boys the Easy Way: Helping Your Son Learn Quickly – Even if He’s a Late Starter
How to Potty Train
There are several different ways to potty train. I don’t think any of them are right or wrong. You just have to find the one that works for your child. One will work perfect for one but completely wrong for another.
Unfortunately, that’s just how kids go!
I think the only common thread, and I will say this a lot, is that they will only do it when they’re ready.
Your chances of making one of these successful for you goes up when they are fully ripe. 😉
I have tried almost all of these with my little girl. I’ll let you know which one, eventually, worked for us.
The Ultimate Guide for Potty Training Your Little One: Potty Training Strategies
Have a Starter Schedule
Start just by asking your little one if they want to go potty after meals, before and after nap time, before you leave the house, or just any time that fits into your schedule.
And just ask, even if they say no, keep asking. Don’t get frustrated if they’re defiant, just keep asking.
If they say yes, let them sit on the potty, even if they don’t go. You could have them sit on the toilet with or without clothes.
This isn’t the “real” potty training, it’s just getting them prepped! It takes it a step further than potty talk.
The Real Potty Training
Once they are showing signs that they are ready to go potty such as:
-telling you they want to
-telling you when they have peed or pooped
-asking questions about it, or are excited when you ask them to go
-Not wanting to be wet or wanting to be changed right away
-Waking up dry
Then the real training begins. I suggest taking a weekend you aren’t going to be out and about (or during the week) and try to do one of these strategies for 1-3 days to see if it sticks. If it doesn’t try again in a couple weeks.
Strategies to Potty Train
One way to potty train is by removing all their clothes and having them be naked for the day. You can put down plastic in some areas of your home, or try to keep them on the hard floors when possible.
Just let them run free and tell them to tell you when they need to go.
Ask them to sit on the potty every 15-30 minutes, or whatever time frame you feel comfortable with.
You could also have them drink water so they have to go more often. The idea is that they won’t like to pee on themselves. I have heard this is successful for a lot of people. This would bring me too much anxiety.
The Pull Ups Way
You could have them wear pull-ups. This way you don’t have to worry about messes, and it’s a slow transition into going potty.
We tried this and it didn’t work because my daughter would just go to the bathroom in the pull-up anyway, so to her it feels like nothing had changed.
You would apply the same concept, asking them to sit on the toilet every 15-30 minutes.
You put your child in their underwear or panties and ask them go every 15-30 minutes.
The idea behind this is that they love their BIG BOY/GIRL panties so much that they don’t want to go in them, or they can feel themselves being wet and they don’t like it.
Again, have them drink lots of water because the more practice the better! (I guess it is also because this is what they will actually be wearing once they’re trained)
You can also use Training underwear. They aren’t quite underwear, but they aren’t quite pull ups either.
They’re “under ups”…Not really, I made that up. But, they work great because they feel like underwear, but don’t make a big mess if they go in their pants.
Another point: If you see them doing the potty dance, of course, have them try and go. Also, it might be easier if you set a timer, and make it into a fun game!
You could wait it out. You just ask them to go to the potty as often as you can, and if they say yes, sit them on it, and if they say no, go about your day.
Eventually, he/she will want to do it more, until they’re doing it regularly and you can transition to underwear/panties.
It’s a very slow process, but it’s almost like they are training themselves. You just let nature take its course. It’s a slow and steady way. This is definitely not for the lazy child.
There is a strategy where you potty train in sessions.
For the first half of the day, or after breakfast you potty train by having them sit on the toilet every 15 minutes while wearing your choice of attire: pull up, underwear, or naked, but then around lunch time or nap time you put them back in their diaper and go about your day.
Then you can do it again before or after dinner. You work up to a full day of training. It’s session training. This could help relieve some stress on your part and also not limit you to staying at home for 3 days.
Sitting on the Potty
We tried this because we exhausted everything else.
You have them sit on the potty in front of the TV until they go.
We had to do this for our little girl because she would sit on the potty for about 10 minutes and say she didn’t have to go, but then go pee in the corner.
So she had to go, but didn’t want to. (this is why you have to wait until they are really ready.) This is actually how we first got her to go in the potty and we celebrated, which made it easier for her to go again,… eventually.
We also tried giving my daughter an iPad while she sat on the toilet for 3 minutes, otherwise she wouldn’t. This is how we got her used to doing it. I don’t know if that is against some potty training rules, but it worked.
There are a few things you can do at night time.
You can either go all in and don’t put them back in a diaper but keep them in panties, you know, if you’re feeling brave or put them in a Night time pull-up or regular diaper at night.
We decided to go all in with panties and our daughter wet the bed, quite a lot. I would say if they are waking up dry regularly, you could probably try it. No water 2 hours before bed will help them not to wet the bed.
Incentives or The reward systems
Kids do things so much better when there is a reward involved, most of the time.
I have heard of those kids that just don’t care. My daughter, thankfully, is goal oriented, so she was all about the reward system, once she gave in to being a full-time pottier.
Praise is a must. Always keep going to the potty positive, even though you might be feeling frustrated on the inside. Let them know that they did a good job after going potty.
However, the experts say to avoid excessive praise because that can back fire. Think of it more like positive reinforcement.
There are several ways to do a reward system.
The Check List System
You make a chart and once they have received all their checks, they get _____. (Toy, candy, extra TV time, whatever your child wants most in life.) You decide if they get a check for just sitting or if they only get one for actually going. You could also have them get 2 checks for #2.
The Warm Fuzzies
We did this one with our daughter. This is the one that finally worked once she got the hang of it. If she went, she got to put a warm fuzzy in a jar, (really they’re pom-poms and you can buy them at the dollar store) and once that jar got to a certain line, she got to pick a piece of candy.
I’ve also seen the sticker chart, where they get a sticker for going and when they get so many, they get a prize. Again, you can give them a sticker for just sitting, going, or more for #2.
If you don’t want to make your own you can get some at Amazon, or Just download them for FREE from here.
You could give them an m&m or a piece of candy for every time they go or sit on the potty. This might make them want to go a lot more.
Boys Vs Girls
I have only trained a girl, but I have heard that it’s easier for boys to learn sitting down first. They need to learn to sit and point their penis down into the toilet. They say it’s a smooth transition from sitting to standing.
This is what we will do, but let me know your experience! I have also heard that boys are easier, so I hope that’s true in my case as well.
Use a Potty Book Strategy
There are so many books out there about potty training. I have listed some above, but there are tons more. Maybe you like one and you’re going to try its strategy. More power to you. Try it, see if it works for you.
If you do have to go out and about, take a kid toilet with you and a change of clothes.
If your child attends daycare, make sure you get the care givers involved. Most of the time they have their own system in place. Find out what that is and they might be able to give you some tips or ways you can mesh your training schedules.
If your child still struggles to go potty, you could start introducing it by doing diaper changes in the bathroom and even putting poop from their diaper in the toilet and having them flush.
Make the toilet fun and interesting by putting dye or cheerios in it.
Don’t forget to teach them how to wipe and wash their hands.
If it doesn’t stick, then maybe they aren’t ready and you can try in a couple months. If they are ready, it shouldn’t take too long to potty train. You will see a lot of posts about how someone trained their toddler in 3 days, but that’s not actually uncommon. Once they’re ready and they get it, they just get it!
Lastly, and I guess this is mostly for me. Don’t be afraid. Just try and find out what works for you! Your kid might just surprise you! And for your sake, I hope they do! 🙂
What have you tried that works?
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