The Ultimate Toddler Potty Training Guide
It is bittersweet watching your children grow up, and potty training your toddler is one of the big milestones many parents can’t wait for.
Though it’s a greatly anticipated milestone, it can seem daunting, especially to first-time parents who don’t have experience with potty training.
In A Hurry? Jump To A Section:
- When To Start Potty Training
- How To Potty Train A Boy
- How To Potty Train A Girl
- Best Potty Training Seats
- Potty Training Methods
- Potty Training Regression
Potty Training Tips
You’ll find hundreds, if not thousands of tips and tricks on the internet that parents have used to potty train their children. There are some tried and true tips that will make your potty-training experience easier for both you and your toddler. We’ll discuss those tips below.
The first, and probably most important tip when potty training is to not get discouraged.
Your children are still learning, so you should expect and prepare for accidents. You may notice your child getting discouraged when they have an accident. When this happens, it’s critical that you give them the encouragement and support they need instead of shaming or scolding them.
Potty Training Charts
The potty training process can be quick and easy…or it can seem like a nightmare. Your potty training journey will be as exciting as you make it.
Potty training charts are a lifesaver! There are various kinds of potty-training charts available online or you could choose to make your own. There are free potty training charts available online that you can download and print.
A potty training chart is essentially a sticker chart. These charts are a great way to create a reward system for children. The potty training success is usually higher if they have something to look forward to each time they meet a potty training milestone.
When your child meets a requirement on the chart, reward them with a sticker. When they accumulate so many stickers, you can reward them with a prize.
Some examples you might put on a potty-training chart include being able to pull their pants down on their own, if they sat on the potty for a few minutes, using the potty (and maybe 2 stickers for a bowel movement), and washing their hands afterward.
Potty training rewards can make the experience much better for both you and your child!
These charts can also help get your kids in a much-needed routine.
When to Start Potty Training
What age do I start potty training? This is a commonly asked question with a simple answer.
Your child will show signs that he or she is ready.
Many children begin to show signs between 18 and 24 months, but some children may not show any ready signs until they are 3 years old!
There’s no need to rush since all children learn and grow at their own pace. If you start potty training your child before they are ready, it might take longer to do. Some signs your child is ready to start potty training include:
- Walking to the toilet on their own
- Your child can sit down to pee or poop
- Being able to pull their diaper and/or training pants down and back up
- Understanding and following basic directions
- Staying dry for 2 hours (or longer)
- Showing interest in the potty or a desire to wear underwear
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not even trying to start toilet training until they are at least 18 months old.
How to Potty Train a Boy
It’s time to ditch the diapers! First thing first, if your son is ready to potty train, get him a potty chair.
It may be easier to potty train if your child has a potty to themselves. You can put his name on it or decorate it with stickers so he can make it his own.
Get a potty schedule going and eventually he will be able to realize when he has to go. A good schedule to start with is having him on the potty when he wakes up in the morning (or from a nap) and in 2-hour intervals, for a few minutes at a time (if you’re not doing the 3-day method).
And while you’re teaching your son what to do when it’s potty time, show him the appropriate amount of toilet paper when wiping. This can potentially save thousands of dollars throughout the years from plumbing bills.
Start with sitting on the potty and work on standing up afterward.
Boys have more to learn than girls when it comes to potty training but understanding what happens on the potty without a diaper on is a great first step.
Don’t leave him on the potty for longer than 5 minutes unless he’s showing indications he has to go. Take a break and try again later!
Since children often mimic what they see, letting them copy their dad or an older brother can be beneficial when potty training a boy.
When your little boy is ready to start potty training standing up, make using the potty a game!
When teaching a boy how to use the potty standing up, make sure to put him as close to the toilet as possible to help with aiming and minimize the mess. You may want to keep a step stool nearby to assist with his accuracy.
A commonly used way to do this is to put a cheerio or a fruit loop in the potty and have him aim for the cereal to sink it. If you’re feeling crafty and don’t want to encourage food in the toilet, you could color some ice cubes as targets. Some toddler potty seats even have built-in targets.
Another idea is to use a potty training urinal. We used one of these for our boys and it worked well!
Build onto the excitement of potty training by allowing your son to choose underwear with cool designs or characters that he enjoys.
One of the great things about potty training boys is they have the freedom to pee outside. If your little one is getting overwhelmed trying to use the potty inside and you have privacy in your back yard, letting him pee behind a tree will give him newfound potty-training freedom.
How to Potty Train a Girl
Girls may be slightly easier to potty train since they don’t need to be taught how to use the bathroom standing up.
Just like potty training a boy, the first thing you need to do for your big girl is to get her a potty chair.
Let her put stickers of ponies or princesses or whatever she is into on her potty so she can personalize it.
The most important part of potty training a girl is teaching her to wipe herself properly—from front to back, to keep her from getting an infection.
The same as you would do for potty training a boy, get a schedule set up. Sit her on the potty every 2 hours for a few minutes and after she wakes in the morning and from naps.
If she has hesitation sitting on the potty, you can take her favorite doll or stuffed animal and hold it over the potty for a minute to imitate what she should do when she has to go. And remember, if she wets her pants or has an occasional dirty diaper, try to remain patient with your kids. Shaming during potty training can cause some serious delays.
Using a potty training chart as we mentioned above, and rewarding her when she goes potty multiple days in a row, will make this a positive experience for her as well!
Best Potty Training Seats
The best potty-training seat is whatever one will work best for your situation and child.
Amazon potty chairs are affordable and they have an amazing selection. Here are some of our favorites.
Babybjorn offers a potty chair that has no crevices or small cracks, so cleaning and disinfecting is a breeze.
Summer offers a unique potty chair that looks like a regular toilet (just smaller) and offers flushing sounds so your child can get used to what a real potty will be like.
There are even potty training seats that have a step stool built-in. These are great to be able to move when company is over and make it look a little more “grown-up.”
Potty Training Methods
Whether you live in a spacious home in a neighborhood, or an apartment home in a big city, hen it comes to potty training, you’re going to find several methods that people swear by.
The 3-day method is an efficient potty-training method.
For the 3 days you will be doing this, you will be with your child nearly every moment you are awake.
Prepare your meals ahead of time if possible so you can keep a close eye on potty signs from your child.
When your child wakes up in the morning, take their diaper off, and let them throw it away. Having them tell their diaper “bye-bye” helps some children break away from diapers easier.
Keep your child in a long shirt or big kid underwear throughout the day. For this method, you’ll want to give your child more drinks than usual, so keep a sippy cup nearby at all times. Take him or her to the potty every 15 minutes.
Let your child sit there on the potty for several minutes and attempt to use it. You may want to read a book during these trips to the bathroom because you’ll have a lot of time just sitting there.
Keep in mind that accidents will happen, and the 3-day method focuses solely on encouragement even when they don’t make it to the bathroom. Scolding can cause regression and fear of the potty.
When using the 3-day method, you’ll also want to cut off snacks and drinks after dinner and have one more bathroom trip before bed. Set an alarm to wake your child halfway through the night to go to the bathroom and repeat all of these steps for the next 2 days.
Child-led potty training, or letting them potty train themselves, is another popular method of potty training.
This method ensures your child is developmentally ready to make the transition to being diaper-free.
To make child-led training easier, talk about the potty often. Each time you change their diaper, you can tell them they can use the potty like an older sibling, or like mommy or daddy.
If they show hesitation or tell you no, just let them know it’s okay and they can use it when they are ready. With this method, it’s also beneficial to let them see mom, dad, or an older sibling using the potty.
Ask them often if they would like to use the potty. If they say no, don’t make a big deal out of it or push them to use it. If they say yes, however, celebrate with them when they use the potty by themselves.
Sometimes we have to wait until our children are ready to do it on their own instead of pushing potty training when parents are ready. Don’t make a big deal out of accidents, regardless of what potty training method you choose. Encourage them and simply tell them it’s okay and they can try again later.
Potty Training Regression
Potty training your child is no small task. It is a great milestone achievement that should be celebrated.
Potty training regression is normal and can be caused by big changes, such as moving or having a new baby.
To get through potty training regression, it is crucial to avoid shaming your child. This will only lead to embarrassment and won’t do anything to solve the problem.
Creating a routine (again) for going to the potty is a good way to combat potty training regression.
Natural transitions, such as leaving the house or going to the park, should be used as pointers for your child. You can remind them that they potty before you leave the house, or that they have to use the bathroom before you walk to the park. This creates motivation for your child as they have something to look forward to after using the potty.
When your child is going through regression and has an accident, involve them in the cleanup. Have them bring paper towels or a cloth to clean the mess off the floor. You could also have them place their wet clothes in a laundry basket or pick new clothes out to change into. They will begin to see that it takes more time and effort to clean up an accident than it does to go to the bathroom.
Sometimes the regression stems from the need to feel in control. Offer your child a special drawer or basket in the bathroom to keep their underwear in or let them choose which bathroom they use if you have more than one.
If there has been a new baby or big change recently, offer your child more one on one time. Sit with them while they eat or while they use the bathroom whenever possible.
Potty training regression may seem discouraging, but it will pass, and your child will be potty trained once again.
Potty Training Checklist
- Your child is showing signs that they are ready
- Grab a whole dose of patience
- Figure out which potty training method you’re going to use
- Get a potty chair
- Make or buy a potty training chart
- Get some type of reward – skittles were our go-to!
- Remember to be forgiving and encouraging
Potty training is an exciting milestone for parents and children. There are several methods you can use to potty train. It may take a few tries to find what works for your child, but once you know what works, you’ll be on your way to a fully potty-trained child in no time.
Done With Potty Training
Are you ready for this to be the last time you have to potty train? Thinking about a vasectomy? We’ve got all the information you could need in our post getting a vasectomy. It answers all the questions you’ve thought about and probably a few more you haven’t begun to consider.