Potty training is a challenging and inevitable milestone. If you’re looking for techniques and tips on timing and how to handle accidents you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get this potty started.
Potty training requires adequate timing and patience, from you and from your kiddo. It’s a big step for both of you. Be aware that children are different and develop at their own pace.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.
What works for your child may not work for some else’s. But once your child is ready here’s what you can do to make potty training a success.
HOW WILL I KNOW MY TODDLER IS READY FOR POTTY TRAINING?
- Your child can stay dry for at least 2 hours – meaning you’re changing fewer diapers.
- Your child has regular bowel movements.
- Your child tends to alert you when it’s time to go (words, signs, facial expressions).
- Your child becomes aware of having a dirty diaper and shows the desire to have it changed immediately.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT YOUR TODDLER IS READY TO POTTY TRAIN – Questionnaire
- Can he walk and sit on the toilet?
- Can he pull down the pants and pull them up again?
- Can he stay dry for at least 2 hours?
- Can he follow basic directions?
- Can he tell you he needs to go?
- Is he showing interest in using the toilet or wearing underwear?
If you answered YES to most of the questions chances are that your child might be ready for potty training. If you answered NO then obviously you should postpone it till later.
Your child’s readiness is as important as yours. You may want to potty train your child in less than a day, if possible. But don’t be that eager and wait until you see some motivation.
Try not to blame the potty training failure on your child’s stubbornness or success on his intelligence. It doesn’t work that way.
Accidents will happen and you will face resistance, just don’t let it turn into a nightmare. Don’t get angry and don’t punish your child. There’s no point in doing that. Toilet training requires time and energy, so plan accordingly.
AGE FOR POTTY TRAINING – HOW OLD SHOULD MY TODDLER BE WHEN I START POTTY TRAINING?
Many parents may ask what is the normal age for potty training. Thre’s no magic age to start potty training. The truth is that age is not quite a criterion as to when to start potty training.
But rather physical, developmental and behavioral milestones. Most children show signs of being ready for potty training somewhere between 18 and 24 months. But others may actually show resistance until they turn 3.
There’s no rule, a right way or a wrong way. And don’t feel pressured by … society. Just go with the flow. Potty training does not happen overnight. In fact, if you rush things and start too early potty training your child might take longer.
Embrace the fact that all kids are different and expect the unexpected. There are many great books on this topic so you may want to read a few.
WHAT ARE THE BEST TIPS FOR POTTY TRAINING?
Potty training has its ups and downs but it’s a great achievement. These tips will help you make the transition from diapers to toilet training smooth.
1. MAKE IT FUN – explain your child the benefits of using the toilet/potty and wearing underwear (just like mommy and daddy!).
2. HAVE HIM CHOOSE THE POTTY – this will involve him even more and get him excited about this whole process. Trying his brand new potty will be very attractive to him.
3. SAY THE RIGHT WORDS (‘bathroom talk’)- you have to decide what words you want to use to name your child’s bodily fluids. You want to avoid words that have a negative meaning, obviously.
Dirty, stinky or gross would not be a good choice. Use simple and positive words instead. Experts recommend not using slang so your child won’t be embarrassed later on when he grows.
So you might want to stick to the formal words (urinate). Make him view this whole process as something natural (everybody pees, it’s normal).
4. TREAT YOUR CHILD AS AN ‘ADULT’ – encourage and support your child’s maturity like drinking from a cup for example without making a mess. But don’t expect too much from him and don’t put pressure.
Or you can have him wear underwear with his favorite character instead of disposable pull-ups, so he can feel like a grown-up.
5. GET THE EQUIPMENT READY – put the potty chair in the bathroom or somewhere else in the house (where your child spends the most time). Have him sit on the potty chair with clothes on.
Make sure his feet rest safely on the floor. You can empty a dirty diaper in the toilet and have him flush it, so he can start getting an idea about the purpose of all of this.
6. SCHEDULE POTTY BREAKS – have him sit on whether the potty chair or toilet without a diaper. You can do it in the morning or throughout the day, after eating or naptime, whatever works for you.
The idea is to make him understand that going potty is a routine thing and will help him build good habits. You can use toys, sing a song, read books anything that would keep your child entertained and make him sit down.
Don’t force him to stay on the potty chair if he doesn’t want to. It has to be a pleasant experience. Feel free to take the potty chair on the go.
*Boys tips – for a boy usually, this process begins with mastering urination sitting down and then standing up (after bowel training). Later on, you can teach him how to aim by placing O-shaped cereal in the toilet and tell him to use it as a target.
7. GET A GOOD POTTY – you have to opt for one that is durable and stable enough to prevent tipping over. Another option would be getting a potty seat that attaches to the toilet, which is actually not a bad idea because it will make your child feel like a ‘grown-up’.
8. DO SOME MAGIC – add some dye in the toilet (or buy those blue toilet bowl cleaners). Or you could also add some dish soap to make some bubbles. Your child will love watching those while peeing.
9. MONITOR AND ACT FAST – as soon as you notice readiness signs like touching the genital area, holding his legs tight, walking slowly on tiptoes, squatting or squirming, it means your child might need to use the restroom so act fast.
Head immediately to the restroom and offer rewards to your child for showing you those signs.
10. DRESS YOUR CHILD FOR POTTY TRAINING SUCCESS – during the potty training time dress your child in comfortable and loose clothes, so when needed they are easy to remove (an overall would be a bad idea).
Get in the habit of having your child pull down his pants before changing the diaper, and pull up when done.
11. DO IT YOURSELF – ok, sounds awkward. You on a potty. You’re doing it for a good cause though. And you know toddlers mimic everything you do and this should be no different.
12. TEACH PROPER HYGIENE – teach proper wiping: for girls wiping from front to back to prevent infection. Last but not least, teach your child that washing hands is a must.
13. TOSS THE DIAPERS – if you see that after a few weeks your child is able to stay dry during the day you can make the change and switch to underwear. This change must not go unnoticed.
Reward and praise your child for this big step. Use stickers or a potty training chart. Scroll to the end for free download.
14. START WITH PULL-UPS – in the beginning when your child is just starting out on the potty, use the disposable pull-ups. They will help him get into the habit of pulling them up and down just like underwear.
They will make your life easier and save you from accidents: they are disposable, they absorb the mess and are easy to remove.
15. BARE BOTTOM BREAKS – under safe (and warm) conditions let your child wander around with a bare bottom to make him aware of his body’s signals. He needs to experience what it’s like to pee without a diaper on.
After all, urine is not something you can ignore. Have a potty around to give your child the chance to act fast.
16. LOOK FOR SIGNS – you’re the adult in this whole process so you know better. As a parent, you can anticipate a lot of things because you know your child better than anybody else.
You can suspect when he has to go by the look on his face for example. And even if he already did it you can still have him sit on the potty just so he can better understand the connection between the potty and his needs.
17. REWARD HIS ACHIEVEMENTS – when your child is potty trained it means he’s not a baby anymore and this achievement cannot happen unnoticed. A job well done needs to be rewarded.
You can choose your own way of rewarding him: stickers on a chart or money for his piggy bank, or M&Ms (I’ve heard these are famous for some reason among potty training rewards).
As he progresses, it’s better to let him get motivated on his own.
18. REINFORCE AWARENESS – teach him to distinguish between being dry or wet to boost his sense of control.
19. DON’T RUSH – this is not something that will happen overnight, unfortunately. Potty training is not just about your comfort and readiness as a parent. Despite any resistance or potty training regression, don’t give up.
But also don’t have unrealistic expectations because that could affect his self-confidence. Cleaning pee is not fun, but try not to overreact so you don’t discourage your child.
Even though you see potty training is not working as well as you were expecting forcing him to sit on the potty will only make him more stubborn.
20. BE SMART – don’t give him less water or fluids in order to lower the chances of having an accident. It’s an ineffective method and not to mention unhealthy.
In fact, more fluids (water, juice, watermelon, cucumber) mean more opportunities for potty training success.
21. NO FIGHTING – I may sound repetitive, but once again patience and persistence are the key. Don’t make a huge deal about it and try not to compare him with other children his age, because that will only prolong the struggle even more.
22. REGRESSION CAN HAPPEN – while you toilet train your child you may face some setbacks, but these are normal and are part of the learning process, so don’t be discouraged.
Keep trying new methods and see which one gives you better results.
If you have problems and your child resists the whole process of potty training don’t stress. He may just not be ready. Try again later. It’s important not to turn this into a frustrating struggle.
NIGHTTIME POTTY TRAINING
This may take longer because it’s more difficult. Naptime and nighttime training are hard to handle. Children between the ages 5 and 7 may be able to stay dry during those times.
Until your child reaches that stage, you can use pull-ups and make sure your mattress cover is waterproof (for those night accidents).
HOW DO YOU COPE WITH POTTY TRAINING ACCIDENTS?
- Accidents are inevitable, but patience is everything. Shake off any thought of punishment and always choose the path of least resistance.
- Keep your temper – don’t punish or scold your child.
- Be one step ahead – always have extra underwear and clothes whether you’re on the go or at home, whether your child is in daycare or school.
- Gently remind him every couple of hours it’s time for potty.
SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP if you have issues with potty training and see no progress. The pediatrician will surely guide you.
POTTY TRAINING MUST-HAVES
Proper toilet training won’t get you bankrupt. You have 3 options to help you throughout the process:
To remind your child it’s potty time you can get him a potty training watch. It’s easy to use and it’s waterproof so he doesn’t have to take it off to wash his hands.
Potty training is an important milestone and won’t happen in less than a day, so don’t underestimate the process. Watch for those signs of readiness and take action.
I know you’re more than excited at the thought of saving tons of money and get rid of diapers but you have to take some time. Don’t lose hope though. He will definitely be potty trained well before grade school.