Potty Training Tips: Step-by-Step Guide

So, it’s time for those two dreaded words, potty training! I’m not there yet with my first, but I know others who are and I certainly have quite a few questions on the subject that maybe you have as well. Some of the biggest include, what age do you start potty training? How long does potty training take? When are kids potty trained? And, perhaps most importantly, what is the best way to potty train? I’ve compiled advice and resources from all sorts of parenting experts to help you answer those questions.

Let’s first tackle what age you should potty train. There is definitely a very wide range. I’ve seen ranges from anywhere from 18 to 30 months. The big thing most can agree on is you need to look for signs that your toddler is ready.

Below is a useful list that the Mayo Clinic put out to know if your baby is ready to begin potty training.

  • Can your child walk to and sit on a toilet?
  • Can your child pull down his or her pants and pull them up again?
  • Can your child stay dry for up to two hours?
  • Can your child understand and follow basic directions?
  • Can your child communicate when he or she needs to go?
  • Does your child seem interested in using the toilet?

Ok, so you’ve seen the readiness cues and think your baby is ready. Up next, how to start potty training your toddler. Parents Magazine breaks down the task into the below 7 steps.

  1. Talk about the potty
  2. Start to look for signs that your toddler is ready to begin potty training
  3. Find the right gear (little potty, a seat that goes on top of the toilet)
  4. Find a good time
  5. Set times each day where your child sits on the potty and goes through the motions to make a routine. A potty training schedule is important.
  6. Set up a reward system and make sure you praise your little one
  7. Instill proper hygiene with the bathroom process 

So, maybe you just want to get this task over and done with in that case. You might want to look into, how to potty train in 3 days. There are so many great articles on potty training in 3 days or less. Though this method and others like it say your kid will be out of diapers and going on the potty there, of course, you have to be prepared for accidents. After all, this is a very big transition.

Side note, if you're a first-time parent reading this you probably are thinking - wow this is extreme. I know I certainly had that same reaction. But, people do swear that this method works.

So here’s the gist of the 3-day method. 

Day One: You want your child to be naked from the waist done so he or she has easy access to the potty. You will be spending your day watching for signs that your toddler has to go. The goal is to have your child pee quite a bit during this training phase to reinforce good potty training habits as much as possible. To make this happen you will want to load your baby up with fluids. Juice can be a good option here, but obviously not too much. You will want to make sure your child is close to the potty and take him or her regularly (every 15 or 20 minutes) or any time they are showing signs that they need to go. A lot of parents reward their little one with a small treat every time they successfully go on the potty. When you put your child to bed at the end of the first night or for naps during the day, diapers and pull-ups are still ok.


Day Two: Day two is a lot of the same. While in the house you can decide to keep your little one naked, or if they did well on day one put on a pair of loose pants. You might not want to put on underwear because it is too similar to a diaper/pull up and might have the reverse effect. When you leave the house the same follows, do not put on a diaper. On day two if things are going well you will reward your baby with getting to leave the house for a short outing. The concept here is that you are training your child to go to the bathroom before he or she leaves the house. 

- A note here: If you are potty training girls, a dress with or without tights or leggings can be very helpful! If you are potty training boys, loose pants or shorts depending on the season are probably the easiest way to go.


Day Three: This day is a lot of the same, but you can try venturing out of the house two times.

- A note about the 3-day method. You will need a lot of patience and have to be very attentive to your child in order for this to work. You might want to try rotating out with your spouse to give you each a break in the process. Also, you might want to try this method over a weekend so you can give your little one your full attention.


Looking for some potty training tips? There are so many good ones out there. Here’s a few that stuck out with me.

  • Make sure you are asking your child questions to understand if he or she is afraid or have any questions themselves. 
  • Some children respond better if you put them on the toilet backward 
  • Here’s a potty training tip for boys- help your little one by giving them something to aim at, a fruit loop for instance
  • Give your child a goal to work towards

Potty training problems: Of course for most parents, potty training is not without a few hiccups. Just know you are not alone. A few of the common include that your baby will only poop in his or her diaper, the baby has a fear of the toilet or of flushing, problems using public bathrooms, accidents or bedwetting at night. 


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