Ok, y’all! I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but kept thinking on it and waiting because I wanted to be able to give you the best possible advice. Potty training is HARD! Don’t let anyone out there tell you its simple, because I promise honey, that’s a lie! Potty training is a process that takes time and dedication. And while most of the skills can be mastered in 3 days, it can take months before your child is 100% confident and having no accidents (not including bedtime).
I’m currently potty training my second child and it is going extremely well! He started going into the bathroom and using the potty himself by day 2! Now I never could have written this post when training my first child. I made SO many mistakes and really felt like I failed him a lot throughout the process. I learned a lot from those past mistakes though, and this go around felt much more confident in my skills.
In this post I will be breaking down how to get started, what items you will need, and tips for a successful potty training journey. It is incredibly important to be prepared before you start. This isn’t a “lets wing it” process. To be successful, you need to give yourself and your child the tools for success. So lets begin!
- Don’t Start Too Early
This is an absolutely crucial tip. So many parents want to get their child potty trained because THEY want their kids to be potty trained. They are ready to be done buying diapers and changing diapers and all of that in general. First off, the first year or so after your child is potty trained will require a lot more effort on your part then just changing a diaper when it gets full. You have to be ready to race your child to a public potty when you are out and about, plus be on booty wiping duty when the need arises and get them redressed as well. It took my oldest until he was a little older than 4 before he could handle wiping and re-dressing himself, and still to this day he doesn’t always do the best job getting his behind completely clean.
So if you read all that and feel like you are still ready, then how do you know your child is ready? Here are some things to look for. If they show interest in you going to the bathroom, go longer with dry diapers, and get embarrassed and hide when they go poo-poo, then they are probably ready. Just remember, if you start to soon, it could be detrimental your child’s success.
I also want you to know as a parent that teaching your child potty training can be stressful on you, especially if you have to clean up a ton of accidents or feel too busy to stay focused on your child for 3 days. You also need to be mentally prepared.
So, you feel like you and your child are both ready? Ok, set a start date! Set a 3 day period when you know that you will have nothing else to do. Your full focus needs to be on your child for that period. Next, go ahead and stock up on supplies. Get yourself a good child’s toilet seat, I love THIS ONE because it attaches to your regular seat, and you don’t have to clean out a child potty. Blah! Also go ahead and grab some pull-ups for naps and bedtime. Mastering no accidents while sleeping will take a lot longer. My oldest is 5 and still has accidents sometimes during the night. Then sit down with your toddler and get them prepped. Show them on the calendar when you are going to start potty training. Let them pick out their new “big kid” underwear. There are so many fun designs these days, your child will no doubt get excited for their prize! You can also use the underwear as a reminder “don’t go potty on ‘insert favorite character here'”. That technique works so well as deterring accidents. Its also smart to have your child help you pick out potty treats. I gave 2 M&Ms for pee pee and 1 small cookie for poo poo. Choose what works best for your child and what would motivate them the most.
2. Start prepping your child
Ok, you’ve got the new toilet seat, you’ve got the underwear and the pullups. What’s next? Prep your child for about a week before the start date. Get them excited. Make it sound like an adventure. Keep reminding them of the start date and how fun it will be and how they will get special treats when they go! It builds excitement and gets your child a bit more prepared. No child wants to be tossed on a potty without warning and told to perform.
3. Pants off Bootcamp
Yay! We have made it to day 1 of potty training! Boot camp has begun! I highly recommend having plenty of cleaning supplies on hand to take care of accidents, blocking off rooms that you want to avoid messes in and even rolling up expensive area rugs that you don’t want messes on as well. After your child wakes up fully (you don’t wan’t him/her to still be groggy), tell them its time to start. Pull their diaper off and throw it away (if you have any unused diapers, you can make a show of throwing those away too. You can also donate them). Make sure your child knows he/she will not be going back to those. Go ahead and get your child to sit on the potty. I try for about 5 minutes. Its more than likely that nothing will happen in this period, so don’t expect anything right off the bat. If they don’t go, then tell them “its ok! Great try!’ Set the timer for 15 minutes and let them know that you will try again in that time. Let your child go about their way, but stay on them like a hawk! I mean it parents! Don’t play on your phone, don’t do chores, don’t do anything but keep 100% focus on your child. Also, its really smart to push fluids on your child. The more fluids they drink, the more they will have to go potty and the more learning opportunities they will have.
When your 15 minute timer goes off, take them again and wait 5 minutes. If so much as a drop comes out, make sure you cheer like your favorite team just won the Super Bowl! Give them high praise and reward them with their treat. Set the timer again for 15 minutes. Now, if nothing happens once again, don’s stress and don’t stress your child!! Avoid pressuring your child. Its a lot to learn and they could easily be scared. If your child is nervous or upset about sitting on the potty, remember to stay calm and collected and reassure your child that everything will be fine and the rewards they will get if they succeed. Its more than likely that your child will pee on the floor before they do the potty, hence the need for the cleaning supplies and staying with your child constantly. At the first sight of pee, say NO! Don’t yell at them, but you do want it to be sharp enough to surprise them! This will usually cause them to stop peeing. Then rush them to the potty to finish. Again, if they finish on the potty, PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE, then reward! Repeat the 15 minute off, 5 minute on routine until at least midday. This gives you time to figure out how often your child needs to go to the bathroom. Usually, you can push it back to 30 minutes off, 5 on by 1pm. Continue watching your child for accidents, stop them, rush them, then reward them. If your child has a normally scheduled nap time, you can put a pullup on them for sleep, then take it off when they wake up. As I mentioned before, it takes a lot longer to master no accidents while sleeping.
Continue this bootcamp for 3 days. Monitor your child’s bathroom habits and adjust the timer to match. 30-60 minutes is a fair amount of time once your child starts mastering going to the potty. If your little one is more independent, they may stop asking you and head straight to the bathroom when they feel the need to go. No matter if they go once in a day or 20 times, continue the high praise and rewards. My son started trying to go as often as possible since he knew he would get that candy, and it was OK with me, because I knew he was mastering use of those muscles and learning how to make himself go (a very important skill). Your child will pick up on peeing well before number twos. Those can be incredibly scary and uncomfortable for your child, so make sure you stay calm and reassuring. Also, if accidents occur, DO NOT PUNISH YOUR CHILD!!!! Don’t yell, don’t spank, don’t humiliate. A proper response is “uh-oh, you didn’t make it that time! Bad mess. Can we try harder next time?”. I also get them to help me clean up the mess so that they understand a little better that it is not supposed to be there. Just FYI to parents, as long as you are staying on them like you are supposed to, most of that can be avoided. I understand its easy to get distracted sometimes, but its important to make your child your full focus.
Now what happens if 3 days go by and you are still struggling? DON’T STOP! Don’t give up. If you cave and decide to try again another time, it will be 100% harder to achieve success. Your child will have figured that of they avoid going on the potty, then they will eventually get their diaper safety net back. You have to see it through. If you have to get back to work, then maybe schedule another family member to help. Consistency is key.
4. Bootcamp Step 2
Ok, so your child has mastered the pants off method and is ready to move on to their big kid underwear! This is such a huge step, but it can also be a confusing one. Underwear makes you child feel secure, like a diaper, and they may allow themselves to go potty in it thinking that is ok. This is why I call it step 2. It is smart to spend more time with them like you did on day 1, and if you catch accidents starting to happen, then rush them to the bathroom as before. You will go through several pair of underwear during this process, so make sure you have plenty! Side note, toss baking soda into your wash to eliminate the urine smell! Only thing that works for us.
Keep reminding your child to tell you when they have to go potty and the rewards they will get for going to the toilet like a big kid. If they mastered pants off well enough, then it won’t take long to master this next step. Especially once they feel how terrible it is to have wet underwear!
I try to keep my kids at home as much as possible during the potty training process, but if you DO have to go out, there are a couple of options. One is just to throw a pullup on them. This can cause some regression, so just think about your child. The other option is to put on their underwear, then put a pull-up on over it. This prevents your child from peeing on the floor in a public space, but also allows them to feel wet if they do have an accident. As always, try to get your child to go potty before you leave and remind them consistently while you are out to tell you if they have to go. The hard work pays off, just don’t stop!
Whew, that’s pretty much it. It was so hard to write this out, because my mind was thinking of a tons of dos and donts and examples. Just remember that every child is different and will learn at their own pace. If they don’t have it in 3 days, it is ok. It is a journey and takes time.
Tips to remember:
- Don’t start too early
- Pick a start date and prep (pump up) your child
- Stock up on cleaning supplies and prep your house
- Put away all distractions and focus on your child 100%
- Push fluids to increase learning opportunities
- DON’T stress yourself, stay calm for your child
- DON’T get angry at your child for accidents
- PRAISE when they succeed
If you have any additional questions for me, feel free to reach out at any point! I will also attach some of my favorite products I used during this process.