If you’ve decided your child is ready to be out of diapers, congratulations! Using the toilet is an essential skill that further develops your child’s independence and increases their confidence.
The purpose of potty training is to teach your children how to recognise the sensation they feel in their bodies before they need to use the toilet.
The most important thing to remember is that potty training is a process, and your child will have accidents, but stick to this method, and your child will be using the potty consistently in just three days. Check out My Baby Nursery for all your baby product needs.
Here is a summary of the 2 (or 3)-day potty training method (whatever you want to call it), our preferred potty training method. It seems to work well for most, but not all.
Is Your Child Ready for Potty Training?
On average, healthy kids will start potty training between 18 and 30 months. How do you know if your little one is ready to ditch the diapers? Look out for the following signs:
- Body awareness. Your child senses the urge to have a bowel movement and often hides behind the couch or waits until they’re alone to do their business. Before deciding to take the leap and potty train, you should get your child familiar with using the toilet. Let your child come with you to the bathroom and show him what big boys and girls do.
- Most kids are excited to learn about bathroom etiquette. Show them how the toilet flushing works and how to wash their hands. Look for signs of readiness and excitement, such as your child telling you when he has to Pee or poop, asking you to use the potty, feeling bothered by a dirty diaper.
- A desire for cleanliness. Your child dislikes sitting in a wet or soiled diaper, and they might alert you when they need a diaper change.
- Muscle mastery. They can walk to the bathroom independently, pull down their pants, and sit on the potty unassisted.
Gearing up for Potty Training
Once you have your dates marked on the calendar, it’s time to gear up.
You Will Need:
- A potty seat or potty chair
- Underwear – Target, Amazon, etc.
- A potty doll
- Potty books/movies
- Flushable wipes
- A piddle pad (for the car)
Optional — Potty Books and Movies
For the days and weeks leading up to D-Day (let’s call it “P-Day,” teehee), many parents find it helpful to read potty books and watch some potty movies to get your kiddo excited.
Choose the Weekend
You will need three days in a row where you are home with your child. For working parents, this method works best over a three day weekend or a time when you can take off a day of work to add on to a regular Saturday/Sunday.
You will be inside for most of the weekend, so it is essential to mentally prepare yourself to spend lots of time with your child. Have fun with them! If you can’t block out three days, on the final day, discuss what you have been doing with your childcare provider and ask them to continue the process.
Optional — Cool “Character” Underwear
Some kids get excited about wearing underwear, mainly if it features their favourite character. Use this to your advantage! Before P-Day, go out and buy your child his favourite character underwear.
Once your child shows signs of readiness, take them to a store and pick out underwear together. Purchasing underwear with their favourite characters is a fun way to get them excited about wearing big boy or big girl underwear.
Also, since you will be spending a lot of time at home, you may want to think about some at-home projects in advance. This may be art supplies, a movie, games, cooking, baking or anything else that will keep you and your child entertained.
Before the Long Weekend
One week in advance, let your child know that it is time to say “goodbye” to diapers.
Depending on what your family decides, this could be a complete goodbye or a partial goodbye. Wear diapers or pull-ups will be used during nap and bedtime. Once you start training, underwear will be worn at all times unless your child is sleeping.
If you are doing a complete goodbye to diapers, you can count the remaining diapers with the child and explain that when they are gone, there are no more. You can still make sure only one diaper is left before bedtime the night before you begin toilet training.
Share the process with your spouse and other caregivers, such as babysitters, nannies, and relatives.
Take shifts (especially if there is an older sibling) or stay together and support each other during the process.
It is essential that all adults are involved in the process and that using the toilet does not become something that is done only with one adult in the family.
By sharing the responsibility, your child learns that they must use the bathroom with everyone, not just in certain situations or with specific adults.
Right when your child wakes up, change them out of the diaper.
Let your child spend at least the first day bare-bottomed. Without a diaper or underpants on, your child will be more likely to recognise the need to use the toilet.
You may choose to put a little potty in the living room for easy access.
This is a personal choice as some people may want to keep all bathroom activities in the bathroom.
Give your child a big glass of water, juice, or milk, so they have to pee frequently.
Have a constant sippy cup near your child’s reach. Give your child a lot of fluid and watch intently for signs that your child is about to Pee or poop.
When you notice the sign, take your child to the bathroom immediately to use the toilet. Ask them if they have to go every 20 minutes.
You may want to set an audible 20-minute timer, so your child knows that it is time to try to use the toilet when the timer goes off. Make sure to have your child wash hands after each attempt to instil healthy habits.
If your child doesn’t want to try, you could say we are going to try “after you are done playing with your trains”, or if your kids know numbers, you could say, “we are going to try when the clock says “10:30.” Have your child attempt to use the toilet at every transition, after cleaning up a toy/material, before snack or lunch, and before and after nap and bedtime.
This will become part of their daily routine.
Use emotionally neutral, behavioural observations regarding your child’s progress. “You peed in the toilet; that’s where pee belongs!” or “you peed on the floor, help me clean it up.”
You know your child best.
Some children respond well to an exciting celebration of success, while others become uncomfortable with the attention.
Some children respond well to rewards, so if your child is motivated by stickers or small treats, you may decide to do a reward chart to encourage potty training.
Optional — Treats!
Many parents use treats as an incentive to poop or pee on the potty (or toilet).
A perfect treat is something small, like M&Ms, so they aren’t entirely overcome with sugar.
Other ideas include sweet tarts, gummy bears – anything that’s small and non-messy will work just fine. Please stay away from chocolate, as it tends to melt quickly and makes a mess.
Some people frown upon “bribery” for using the potty – and by all means, you don’t have to do it.
Just remember, bribery is asking someone to do something illegal – and going on the potty isn’t unlawful.
“Will, your kid ask for treats forever?” No, after a couple of weeks, they start using the potty like usual and forget about the treats (although, sometimes, she still asks for pleasure to see). You phase them out over a week or so.
Day 2 and Day 3
If Day 1 went well, you could try the second p-word… “pants!” If Day 1 did not go well, stay naked.
You have to be the judge of when the right time for pants is.
Notice I said pants, not underwear. Underwear might be too reminiscent of a diaper. That said if your kid is doing really well and you think she can handle it, by all means, go for underwear and pants together. We went straight to underwear + pants, and it was fine.
During these first few weeks, pants must be easy to get on and off. Yes, you (or someone) will help, but we want to build confidence and decrease obstructions between the BOTTOM and the POTTY.
If he has genuinely connected the dots between feeling the urge to go… and going, then pants shouldn’t be too much of an impediment.
For little girls, the easiest thing is dresses with tights. Leggings are acceptable too.
Your process for day 2 and 3 is essentially the same as day 1. Some people stay inside on all three days to solidify the rotation. Other people choose to venture outside for short activities on the afternoon of day two and day 3.
If you go outside, go to a playground or do an activity close by and always remember to bring a small portable potty with you if your child refuses to use the public restroom, as some kids do.
Expect accidents. When they happen, change the underwear and don’t make a big deal. Say, “we pee and poop in the potty.”
For boys, stick to pull-on pants with elastic waistbands. For all kids, steer clear of jeans or pants with a button and a zipper (for now) – those are the hardest to manipulate when speed matters.
Day 2 goes on like day 1, except with pants (assuming you had success with the naked phase). Again, lots of fluids. Going to the potty every 20-30 minutes, or however frequently you feel she is suitable for your child.
Everything else should be the same. If you are introducing underwear simultaneously (funny!), remember you have a new tool: “Keep Elsa dry!”
You should still be giving your child your undivided attention and correcting any accidents: “Remember, poop and pee go in the potty; now let’s clean this up.”
Stay positive. Use your tools (potty doll, treats, keep Elsa dry, etc.). Online baby product directory at My Baby Nursery.
If the morning goes well and you’re feeling confident, try a short outing. The perfect first outing is a walk around the block. Kick off your outing with a successful pee.
You’ll get in the habit of using the potty every time before you leave the house, so now’s a great time to start. If you’re driving somewhere, you can use a paddle pad if you’re afraid of ruining your seat.
Once you get an outing under your belt, you’re in great shape! Things progress from there, and you won’t feel like you live under house arrest.
Make the Potty Super Accessible
Your toddler will go through these stages of realization: I peed, I’m peeing, I have to pee.
This progression is normal and can take time to move from one to the other.
Be excited about any of these phases since they signify recognition of the process.
Keep the potty close by during the first three days—and maintain a potty in the playroom or the kitchen—because they can’t often hold it for very long, even once they start to realise that they have to pee. The faster and easier it is to get to a potty, the easier this will likely be.
If you see your toddler starting to pee, pick them up and put them on the potty to finish (even if you have to bypass a small puddle to clean up in a moment). The more they are reminded that Pee goes in the potty, the better.
Figure Out How to Relax
You’re worried that there will be pee and poop on the floor. (Spoiler alert: There probably will be at some point.)
You’re concerned about how you’ll ever be able to leave the house and keep a close enough eye on your toddler to be able to get them to a potty when they need to go. There’s a lot to worry about!
There may come the point at which you need to get out of your kid’s way.
Trust them, incorporate going potty into your routine—before leaving the house, before and after meals, etc.—but don’t get too laser-focused on making them go because some kids can hold it forever!
And sometimes they won’t go simply because they know you want them to.
Don’t Sweat Pee on the Floor.
I know this stresses people out. But honestly, it’s not that big of a deal.
Put the area rug in our playroom into a closet for two weeks to simplify things a little and keep rags, wipes, and floor cleaner nearby.
And when pee did wind up on the floor, remind them that “Pee goes in the potty, not on the floor,” and don’t punish or make them feel bad.
Get Care Providers on Board
If possible, talk to any care providers (whether at daycare, in your home, or simply other relatives who spend time with your kid) ahead of time and share your plan.
Make sure that your child has easy access to the bathroom and that they’ll be taken often. And communicate whether or not they’ll need diapers during nap.
Naps and Nighttime
Whether or not to put a diaper on during nap and nighttime during three-day potty training is a personal decision.
Some believe it is easier to potty train completely for daytime, down, and nighttime; others train in stages.
Your children can often be helpful in decision making, too.
So talk to him about it, and ask if he wants to wear underwear for naps. For nighttime, he can still be in diapers.
Direct your child to the bathroom first thing in the morning, before and after naps, after meals, before bedtime, and every two hours if they don’t already do it themselves.
Also, ask your child if they need to pee or poop regularly.
Consider whether you want to use diapers for naps and bedtime; the decision is up to you.
If you choose to use them, have your child go potty before putting them on at night and taking them off in the morning.
Keep up these steps for the remainder of the three days. If your child is doing well, you might schedule a few short outings, such as walks or trips to the grocery store.
Don’t punish your child for accidents because they will happen. Praise success when they use the bathroom correctly; you might also consider setting up a reward system.
Toilet Training Tips
- Have your child use the toilet before leaving home and immediately upon arriving at their destination.
- Bring multiple changes of clothing and underwear when you go out.2
- Tell your teachers, daycare providers, nannies, and babysitters your child’s signs when he or she needs to use the potty and what language you use at home so they can be consistent with your preferences (ie pee, poop, toilet, potty, doo doo, BM, tinkle, etc.).
- Being without a diaper is a new sensation, and it may feel uncomfortable or scary for some children. Remain calm and reassuring as you support your child during this process. Research has shown that an adverse reaction or punishment after an accident can negatively associate toileting and hinder progress, so to remain calm after an accident and hide any frustration from the child.
- Believe in the process. It is effortless to get discouraged on day 2 when your child is having accidents, but once you make it to day three and beyond, your child will show you that he or she understands what it means to be potty trained.
Determining the Success of 3-Day Potty Training
If your child still leaves puddles on the floor at the end of the three days, or if they couldn’t care less about having numerous accidents in their training pants, they aren’t ready for potty training. Go back to diapers and try another weekend again.
If they wear training pants for the weekend and regret having an accident or two, mission accomplished! Your child can wear training pants every day and graduate to big-kid underwear once they regularly use the potty. Check out our range of baby nursery products and furniture for all your baby needs.
Hey, mate, you can do this! Don’t be afraid. Be cool, calm, and confident, and your child will follow your lead. Giving your child the gift of potty training is a great thing! You’ll be so proud of your kid (and yourself! LOL) when you’re done.