By now, you may have read tons of information on how to potty train your toddler. Potty training is something we parents both look forward to and dread. It is the end of diapers, but not exactly the end of wiping little bottoms. Your baby is now a “big girl” or “big boy” and it is pretty exciting. However, before you throw a potty party, be prepared to work your butts off…literally.
I have read all of the “Potty Train Your Child in 3 Days” articles. That is amazing if you are able to do it. There are kids who jump on the potty train and really do learn that quickly. However, every journey on the potty train is different because every child is so unique.
If you have multiple children, you probably already know this. However, for us first-time moms, we need to know that it is okay if our kid takes longer than three days to learn to use the potty. I have compiled the ultimate list potty training tips by moms for moms. Whether you want practical tips or a little comic relief, look no further!
How to Potty Train
As you will see in these stories and tips, every child is different. Thus, you cannot compare your child to another…even if they are siblings! However, there are some telltale signs that your child is ready to potty train. Be sure to note all signs, not just the biological ones. Your child needs to be physically, emotionally, and mentally ready to potty train.
Signs Your Child is Ready to Potty Train
- The ability to empty the bladder at one time
- Predictability of bowel movements
- Periods of dryness for several hours (i.e. During nap time)
- Able to pull pants down and up
- Dislikes the feeling of being “wet” or “dirty”
- Shows interest in the potty habits of household members
- Understands the “feeling” of having to go potty and can communicate it
- Knows potty associated vocabulary
- Can follow simple one and two-step directions
For more signs, read the Potty Training Readiness Checklist on Baby Center.
Once you know your little one is ready, check out Erin Nicole‘s post: So, You’re Ready to Potty Train.
How to Potty Train a Child with Special Needs
If you have a child with special needs, then you know that you may not be able to rely on the “typical” signs of potty training readiness. Kristen Raney from Shifting Roots shares her experience with potty training her son.
Potty Training a Child on the Autism Spectrum
First of all, don’t read those stories about moms who potty train their children in three days!!! This will not work for our children and will cause you so much stress!! Remember through this process that you are a good mom doing the best you can for your child.
Most of the moms of autistic children I know were not able to potty train their children before four, many of them five, and some of them never. It just depends where your child falls on the Autism Spectrum and what their particular sensory issues are.
For context, our son would be considered to have Aspergers, but it’s no longer a diagnosis and is now part of the Autism Spectrum. His body was ready to potty train around 2 1/2, but he had very intense fears about using the toilet. No bribe, game, song, or sticker chart in the world could get him to use it. He also was terrified to pee or poo in pre-K, daycare, or anywhere in public.
We started by getting him trained to pee on the potty, and he hit that milestone by 3 1/2. I don’t remember how, because it was so stressful that I’ve erased that time from my mind. I think it involved making him pee in his diaper in the bathroom, and slowly transferring that idea to the potty. Once he got that, he had to ask for a diaper if he wanted to poo, and go in his diaper in the bathroom.
To get him trained all the way, it took a 90 minute battle of wills where I told him he could poop on the potty or on the bathroom floor, it was entirely his choice. It was terrible. He chose the potty, glared at me like I was killing him. We bought him a Thomas train for the next three times he went on the potty, and a fourth one for keeping it up for a week. Yes, this sounds completely excessive and terrible, but he was 4 1/4 and we were at our wits end.
I hope your journey is much less stressful than ours, but know that you’re not alone! Don’t take any flack from someone with a neurotypical kid who gives you grief about not having your child trained by now. You’ve got this mama!
How to Potty a Train a “Late” Bloomer
Here’s the thing. Out of all of my mom friends, not one of our kiddos potty trained at the same age/time. In my grandparent’s era, children were toilet trained early (12-18 months). This had a lot to do with the needs of the adult, however, not necessarily the readiness of the child. Most American families are now waiting until their child is at least twenty-four months or beyond to introduce potty training. Keep in mind, that times are always changing!
An article by HealthyChildren.org entitled “The Right Age to Potty Train”, states that there is no exact right age potty train! Research over the past several decades indicates that there is no perfect age. Parents really need to look at the physical, mental, and emotional readiness of their child and go from there. These indicators could happen at vastly different ages.
Sumer Schmitt over at Giggles, Grace, and Naptime shares her experiences with potty training on “older toddler”. Her son was nearly three and a half when he was fully potty trained. She shares her story of persevering through potty training and advises:
We, as moms, have heard it a million times. Don’t compare. Don’t compare your child to little Suzy down the street who was potty trained at 18 months. Or the story you read online about the 6 month old baby who is already doing elimination communication. Easier said than done, right? When you’re in the thick of it though, it’s hard not to get stuck in the comparison game. Trust me, I get it. But, your child will potty train in his/her own time. Chances are, by the time your child reaches kindergarten, no one is even going to be talking about this milestone anymore. Just like they no longer talk about when your child first rolled over, sat up, crawled, or started walking. Those milestones are in the past and most children will all eventually catch up to one another.
Studies actually show that sometimes potty training later is better because your child will have a better developed vocabulary. Potty training may be easier and happen faster the later the age!
Click to read Sumer’s Post: When Your Child is Late to Potty Train
Did you know that there are actually benefits of potty training late? Kimberly Cartwright from Team Cartwright lists six benefits of waiting to potty train. Number two is my favorite:
The child often will be better at communicating his or her needs.
Waiting means you can have an actual conversation about potty training. Let me tell you, this makes a world of difference!
Click to read Kimberly’s Post: 6 Positives to Late Potty Training
When you wait to potty train your child, you might start feeling the pressure from family members, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers! Bessy Barbeite from Simply Bessy will tell you that you know when your child is ready and if they are not, they are not. Read her story about late training her two boys and ignore everyone else!
Click to read Bessy’s Post: Waiting vs Not Waiting: Our Potty Training Journey with Two Boys
How to Potty Train the Eager Beaver
Kids are ready to potty train at vastly different ages. I have mom friends that successfully trained their child at eighteen months. Some kids are just eager beavers! And when they are ready, they are ready, so why wait?
Amber Dawn from Leggings ‘n Lattes has tips for training your two-year-old. She mentions throughout her post the importance of encouraging your child and not getting angry or upset. Potty training can be frustrating for all involved, but a few words of encouragement coupled with a sincere smile can go a long way! One of Amber’s many tips is:
Positive reinforcement is huge! “Yay, you went potty! You are such a big girl/boy!” Words of encouragement will make the potty training experience fun for everyone. The stickers also help with the positive reinforcement. Let your child know how proud you are of them when they use the potty!
Check out Amber’s other tips (and her recipes!): Potty Train Your Two Year Old
How to Potty Train: The Tips You Haven’t Read
You have probably read that using some sort of reward system when potty training is very effective. Toddlers are very reward-oriented so this can work very well! However, taking away a reward or not bestowing a reward due to accidents can be devastating. In fact, this can completely derail your potty train!
Potty Training Reward Tips
- Ask your toddler to pick their own reward. It is important that your toddler have “buy in” and work towards a reward that he/she actually wants.
- Use little rewards (i.e. stickers or marbles) for each successful trip to the potty and a larger reward (i.e. toy or choice time activity) for making it the whole morning/afternoon/day/night. The key is to start small and encourage your toddler to go longer and longer stretches with no accidents.
- Do not punish your child (i.e. take away a reward) for accidents. The key is to make a huge deal for using the potty correctly and not react too strongly when accidents happen.
Unconventional Potty Training Tips
Connie Deal from Conniedeal.com read a lot of potty training books and give the tips the good college try. In reality, the conventional book tips were a huge flop. So, she developed an entire reward system.
I noticed though, that the more busy I was, the more often she flat out refused to use the potty, even if it meant having an accident (this might have also corresponded with her dad being away for work and her not seeing him for days at a time, but that isn’t a factor I can control). So, we decided a team approach. If “we” made it without accidents, “we” got a prize.
Sweet Pea mentioned having her toes painted like mine, so I decided that we had to make it three days without accidents in order for us to do our nails together.
Why not trying to make potty training a team sport, as Connie did? Not only does this strategy help us parents stay focused on the end goal, we do deserve a reward because potty training is hard on us, too!
Click to Read Connie’s Other Tips: 7 Unconventional Tips for Potty Training Your Toddler
Another unconventional method is aptly named Oh, Crap! Erin Sturm from Freelancing Mama explains the Oh, Crap! Method and how she potty trained her 22-month-old in no time at all. Two days to be exact! It is kind of crazy, but also makes me think that this method has probably been around since the beginning of time.
Click to Read: Daytime Potty Training Using the Oh, Crap! Method
How to Potty Train: The Gear
Okay, so you think your child is finally ready to hop on board the potty train? Now you might be wondering what you really need to make this experience successful. There are some mom and toddler approved items that you may want to have on hand!
Potty Training Gear to Reduce Stress
Molly Sikora from My Sweet Lilac has got you covered on the best stress-relieving gear. In her post, she lists eight potty training products that are tried-and-true. The best part of her post, is her solutions for what happens when potty training gets derailed by a different kind of “accident”.
So guess what happened? My daughter FELL IN the toilet! I’m talking all the way in to her knees, feet sticking straight out of the toilet! This completely derailed potty training for quite a while. She was now too scared to use the big potty. Big potty was the only option at preschool. She would happily use the little potty at home, but wouldn’t go near the potty at school. Once we installed this new toilet seat at home, she felt much safer about the big potty. She didn’t have to worry about getting the little seat on the big potty properly. She could just flip the child seat down by herself. With enough practice using this new set up at home, she eventually rocked the potty at school, too.
My daughter also fell in the potty and refused to go near it again for quite some time! I must admit, I still chuckle at the image. But again, these things happen and you can get back on track if you “fall” off the potty train!
Click to Read Molly’s Post: Eight Products That Reduce Potty Training Stress
Potty Training Gear for Little Princesses
*The following contains affiliate links to Amazon. There is no additional cost to you for using my link, but I may receive a small commission. For more, see my disclosures page.
My daughter does not leave the house without her tutu, tiara, and string of pearls. So, I knew for potty training that I would need to go all-princess…all the way. Now, whether you have a princess obsessed toddler or a little prince, these types of products will set you up for success.
A Personal Potty
I went with a Pink Princess Potty, but any themed personal potty will do the trick. You may find that the “big potty” can be a bit intimidating for your toddler. The noises and the risk of falling in really are quite scary! I tried a potty seat on the big potty first to “be like mommy and daddy” and all of the sudden my daughter lost her potty mojo.
There was also this incident in Target that got me thinking about starting with a personal potty. Here are some reasons to consider getting a potty for your toddler:
A personal potty is smaller and less intimidating
It is portable (you can move it from room to room or bring it with you when visiting grandparents)
Your toddler can sit on the potty while you are cooking dinner or doing laundry (hanging out in the bathroom all day is no fun for anyone)
The downside, of course, is the clean up. You do have to clean out whatever your toddler deposits in the potty rather than simply flushing. However, after the baby diaper explosions, this is nothing!
A Potty Seat
Once your little one feels successful on the “little potty”, they will most likely feel less intimidated to try the big potty. For this, you will need a Soft Potty Seat. I highly recommend placing one in every bathroom in your house. These gems make the big potty more comfortable and reduce the risk of falling in.
A word to the wise, you may also want to invest in some Travel Folding Portable Reusable Toilet Potty Training Seat Covers Liners for when you are on-the-go. I made our first trips out of the house when potty training as quick as possible, but when the urge strikes…you will do well to be prepared!
Potty Training Books
As a teacher, I know the more prepared a child is, the more successful they will be. So, before even pulling out the potty, I read my toddler books about potty training. We talked about the logistics, as well as how exciting it would be to reach this next milestone. When we had a setback after my daughter had ONE pee pee accident (then refused to try again for months), we kept rereading the books. These are a few of my favorites (available for princes, too!):
How to Potty Train On-the-Go
Those three-day potty training methods may imply that your toddler is ready to go out and about after a long weekend of potty training. However, this is not necessarily the case. Of course, every child is different and some just “get it” and are ready and raring to go. For most of those, however, the thought of leaving the house while potty training is fraught with worry.
To reduce stress (for you and your toddler), try these tips:
Make sure your outings are well-planned before leaving
Try to go potty before leaving (I know, just go ahead and laugh at this one. Your toddler will refuse to go and then need to go within 5 minutes of your journey!)
Ask your toddler to wear pull-ups if it is early in the potty training journey
Bring a change of clothes and underpants
Most importantly, know the exact location of every restroom in your designated stop!
Cassie Mahon of Get Your Holiday On knows quite a bit about potty training on-the-go. As a mom of three with a husband in the military, she is traveling more often than not. She has a lot of great tips for potty training while traveling, but my favorite is her genius hack for reducing the fear of the automatic flush!
Click to Read Cassie’s Post: How to Help With Potty Training On the Go.
For more tips on potty training on the go, Catherine Shank from Honest Mom Life has a few more gems!
How to Potty Train Multiples
I don’t know about you, but potty training one kid was hard enough. You moms with multiples are nothing short of amazing. Katie McGowen from My Joy in the Chaos has you twin mommies covered. However, these tips are great for parents of singletons, too!
How to Potty Train…the Parents
The thing about potty training is that it is not just about training your little one. Moms and Dads need training, too! Your entire life is about to change. You will need to plan your day around trips to the potty. It will not always be this way, but for the first few weeks (and months), your life is going to revolve around the potty.
Want to know what potty training is really like? Are you wondering how you might survive? Caroline Degala from Wandering Whindians is going to shoot you straight!
Click to read Caroline’s post: Real Talk on Potty Training
How to Keep Your Sanity While Potty Training
Stacy Taylor from Taylor 411 knows a thing or two about maintaining your sanity…while stuck in the bathroom for hours on end. Stacy has a two-for-one tip in her post:
Take something for yourself to read. Consistency seems to be the biggest success story when it comes to potty training. So, you better get used to sitting back and relaxing while your little one is learning to use the potty. Read a book and that will help you lose track of time. You won’t be counting the minutes until your child goes in the potty.
You need to stay entertained while camping out on the bathroom floor, but she also mentions another key point. Consistency. Whichever method you use to potty train, keep it consistent. Your toddler will learn so much more quickly if he or she knows what to expect.
Read all of Stacy’s TIps for Keeping Sanity Here: How to Keep Your Sanity While Potty Training
When the “three-day method” turns into the three-week method, like it did for Lauren Moye from Chaotic Life of Lauren, you may begin to question your sanity. She has eight thoughts on potty training that I am sure all parents think. Number six is all about questioning the “bare bottom method” and it is my favorite:
Experienced moms whom I trusted to guide me, is this some kind of initiation into toddler mommyhood? Because completely bare-bottom definitely did not work for us. Universities are banning hazing for a reason you know!
Click to read Lauren’s Other Thoughts: 8 Potty Training Thoughts I Had While Working with My Toddler
Potty training is really just a test of your patience as Amanda Tudosa explains her post, Potty Training: The Ultimate Test of Patience. Get ready to wait, Mama. And wait…Be patient, keep your sanity!
Another important piece of the sanity pie, is the ability to keep things (somewhat) clean during potty training. Messes are going to happen. You may be ready for the accidents, but the thing is…toddlers do not have the best aim! I use the Thieves cleaner to keep everything disinfected and smelling nice. My friend, Angie, from AngieCruise.com, hooked me up with it and this cleaner is nothing short of amazing!
For more sanity-saving cleaning tips, Anne Keenan Metz from Once Upon a Mom has all of the hacks you need to return your bathroom to it’s former glory.
Click to read Anne’s Post: 5 Tips for Keeping Your Bathroom Clean When You Are Potty Training
When You Feel Like Giving Up on Potty Training
When you feel like giving up on potty training…maybe you should! My daughter had all of the signs and was eager to learn. Then, she had one pee pee accident and soiled her princess dress. All of the sudden, she wanted no part of potty training. I did not force her, I just put it on the back burner. When she was ready again (several months later), she told me. And that was it!
Bailey Derksen from Simply Mom Bailey explains that my method is called toddler-led toilet learning. I had no idea that there was a name. My background is in Psychology and I did quite a bit of research on trying to force potty training too soon. Freud would caution us all against it!
Bailey explains that if you feel like giving up, go for it. Let your toddler take the lead! If you are a fan of baby led weaning, you are going to love this method.
Find out more about toddler-led potty training in Baileys’ Post: Giving Up On Potty Training
Did you know that sometimes three times is really a charm? Ashley Welsh Ager from Mama State of Mind tried and gave up several times before potty training “took”.
Click to read Ashley’s post: Think You Know How to Potty Train Your Toddler? You’re Wrong.
Or…as Julie Smeltzer from Fab Working Mom Life says, “Let daycare train him!”
Potty Training with Humor
Throughout this journey, you must keep your sense of humor! In the early stages of potty training, my daughter copped a squat in the middle of the aisle in Target in a display froggy potty. I was buying diapers for a baby shower and turned my back for literally ten seconds. Try explaining that one to the checker!
More recently, I was at an annual check up at my OB/GYN’s office. As I am in my birthday suit, laying spread eagle, I feel that familiar tug on my gown. Yup, she had to go potty. Right now. So, I wrap my gown around myself and hurry with her to find a potty. Only, the office is a maze with no signs. I flashed more people than I care to mention, but we made it!
Catherine Gruetz from Whine and Dancing, shares this story:
My son used to refuse to poop on the potty. He just wouldn’t do it. All the bribes..oops I mean rewards, just didn’t work. Until one day my husband had him on the potty because he was complaining his tummy hurt. My hubby handed him a one dollar bill. My son looked and looked at it. Turning it over carefully in his hands and says “What is this, Daddy?” My husband snatches it out of his hands and says, “That’s paper money and you don’t get it unless you poop on the potty.” My son squeezed out a turd and says, “Give me that paper money!!” We almost went broke potty training that one!
Angelique Disher Dale from Four Points Mom tried looking at potty training from her daughter’s point of view and well…don’t pee your pants when you read it!
More Potty Training Tips
Just in case you need a few more tips, check out these great posts!
Tips for Potty Training Toddlers by Aya Byuu
Best Potty Training Tip Ever by Xavia Omega
How to Potty Train a Strong-Willed Child by Tycie MonsonTycie Monson
Are you potty training your toddler? What is your best potty training tip? Need advice? Just drop your comments below and one of us mamas might just have an answer!