Updated: Aug 16
Take a look at our potty training experience including tips, tricks, and supplies to survive the first 72 hours!
“How to potty train your child in 3 days”
“The secret hack to potty training success”
“The best potty training method”
There are a million and one resources out there to help you get through potty training so I was hesitant to add our experience to the bunch. I’ve had plenty of experience potty training kids as a former preschool teacher, but it was a whole new world when it was time to potty train my own little toddler. This resource shares the tips, tricks, and the ins and outs of our potty training experience. I’m definitely not a professional, but this is what’s worked for my family.
RELATED: Looking to add structure to your day? Check out Preschool Play Tricks- at home preschool program
“Have confidence in yourself and have faith in your kid. You both can do this, quickly, gently, and effectively. Do or do not. There is no trying.” ― Jamie Glowacki
Before you get started-
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The best resource I can recommend is: “Oh Crap! Potty Training” by Jamie Glowacki. I downloaded the audio book because if I tried to read ANY book, I’d be asleep in a few seconds. I did need to refer back to it several times during our experience so having a book to flip through might be a better option. Jamie Glowacki is hilarious, blunt (I guess you have to be if you're writing a whole book about pee and poop, right?) and super insightful! In the book, Glowacki states that the recommended time to begin potty training is between 20-30 months.
A quick overview:
The “Oh Crap! Potty Training” method is a block series where your child progresses through the following stages:
Peeing and pooping while naked with or without prompting
Peeing and pooping with clothes on commando with or without prompting
Peeing and pooping in different situations with or without prompting
Peeing and pooping with underpants with or without prompting
Consistent self- initiation
Nighttime and naps
“Your child should go commando (aka, no underpants but with pants) for about a month, give or take a week.” ― Jamie Glowacki
From the basics, the lifesavers, and the saved-my-life while on traveling- this list has everything you need for your entire potty training journey!
A quick note- I haven't found the "perfect" children's potty training book yet, several of the books mentioned below are great but we needed to alter some of the language to fit with how we potty trained. (Like instead of reading, "That's okay!" when an accident happens, I'd change the text to say, "We pee in the potty!" instead).
"Ians New Potty" by Pauline Oud (check your local library for this one!)
The first 72 hours-
The first three days are typically spent inside, naked (at least from the waist down). Schedule when you’re going to start potty training (a long weekend works best).
This stage is all about your child recognizing that they’re peeing.
Day 1- Potty training shouldn’t come as a surprise to you or your child. Talk about it often, in a low-pressure way, before day 1 happens. The morning of, say something like, “Today you are going to be a big girl and put your pee and poop in the potty. It’s going to be fun! I’m going to teach you!” Day 1 is spent home all day, naked. You’ll catch your child mid-pee and bring them to the potty. When an accident happens, respond “You peed on the floor. You pee in the potty. Sit on the potty to pee.”
My daughter hated being naked. She kept trying to pull her shirt down to cover her legs and was totally uncomfortable. That’s something I wasn’t expecting, but with some long socks, she got over it. Leg warmers could be an option too if you have a child like mine.
The catching mid-pee was probably the most difficult part. Our little potty was always nearby, but the quick reaction just totally startled my toddler. Be quick, but not frantic. Instead of picking her up and carrying her to the potty, I’d saying something like, “Oh hold it! Let’s get to the potty!” and had her walk quickly to the potty instead. This still took time as the shock of peeing was pretty fascinating for her to stop and watch.
Day 2- At home, naked again. This day is typically the hardest as the “fun” aspect is fading away. It’s a lot of the same thing, catching mid-pee and hurrying to the potty. Reminders when an accident occurs without saying “it’s okay.”
Day 3: At home, naked again. Day 3 is when we faced some resistance. Resistance from your child is typically a sign of over prompting. We stopped watching the clock and respected when she told us she didn’t have to go. Once you notice progress, move onto the next block, peeing and pooping with clothes on, commando (without underwear). Refer to “Oh Crap! Potty Training” for a complete guide.
Leaving the house-
In all honesty, this was the part I was most scared of but it ended up being the easiest part (so far, we haven't attempted night training yet). We started potty training on the first beautiful spring weekend and was stuck inside all.day.long. I'm so glad we didn't rush into pants though...there will be more beautiful days, I promise. On day 4, we began venturing with short trips in the backyard with pants on and then back inside naked again. We spent about a week or so with short trips outside before venturing on short car rides.
Whenever we arrive somewhere, I always hunt down the bathroom first (for your knowledge if an emergency occurs and so your child knows that there are bathrooms everywhere). Warning: This also becomes an open invitation to explore every single public bathroom you come across. Plan accordingly and add extra time to your errands. We also have a fabulous car potty that stays in the car (along with another wet/dry bag with extra clothes) and I’d recommend 110%. Seriously, you need this thing!
More tips + tricks-
If your child moves between rooms in the house throughout the day, so should your potty.
Use a messy mat under your child’s small potty to catch any spills and make for easy clean up.
Purchase the Costco sized paper towels before starting. Learn from our mistake.
Place a small container nearby the potty with toilet paper, wipes, and special potty books.
Allow your child to wipe with toilet paper first then use a wipe to finish if needed. Check your plumbing before using “flushable wipes.”
Encourage and support your child in pushing down and pulling up their pants independently.
Pack extra clothes for the car and your bag. I keep a wet/dry bag in the car and in my diaper bag extra clothes.
Place a sticky note over self-flushing toilet sensors to avoid them flushing randomly while your child is sitting on the toilet.
Whether you believe in screen time or not, Daniel Tiger on PBS Kids shares fabulous songs to help with potty training. Thanks Daniel *high five* for getting us through the tough times!
If your child struggles with stopping an activity to go to the bathroom, provide a “stop sign” to save their place. We used a red, felt square but construction paper works just as well!
The play dough poop trick really works. Click here for more information.