Wouldn’t it be great to find an easy way to potty train your toddler?
Just like sleep training, there are many different potty training methods. One of the more popular ones I’ve seen on social media is how to potty train your child in three days.
Personally, I prefer a more gradual approach. For our family, this has been an easy, low-stress way to initiate potty training.
At 30 months, my daughter can wear underwear during the day and stays dry throughout the night. I almost feel like I cheated and that my daughter basically potty trained herself.
If you have a toddler and are interested in an easy, low-stress way to start potty training, here are some great tips. These worked for us and hopefully will help you out too.
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In my opinion, when dealing with any kind of transition or helping your child learn a new skill, it’s best to start introducing it to them early. This gives them time to get used to the change and be ready when the transition time comes.
For example, I knew when my daughter turned one that we would be switching from formula to milk. We began introducing cups to her at around 6 months old, starting with allowing her tiny sips of water from open cups and then moving on to using the 360 cups and straw cups to get her used to the idea of using a cup. She was able to easily transition from drinking formula out of a bottle to drinking milk out of a cup after her first birthday because she was already familiar with how to use a cup.
I started using this same approach to potty train my toddler once she began to show signs of readiness.
Signs Your Toddler is Ready to Begin To Potty Train
In order to be fully potty trained, a child needs to be able to
- sense the urge to go
- understand what that feeling means
- be able to let you know that he or she needs to go to the toilet
Most typically developing children will start showing signs of potty training readiness between 18 and 24 months. However, most toddlers do not MASTER readiness skills until after their second birthday (1).
Signs to look for that indicate your toddler may be ready to start potty training are:
- Understands what pee, poop, potty mean (or whatever words you choose to use)
- Shows interest in using the toilet
- Tells you during or after peeing/pooping in diaper or pull-up
- Can pull pants down independently
The following are some of the things my daughter did that helped us realize she was ready to start potty training:
-She would announce to everyone when she would pee by yelling, “I’m PEEING!”
-Oftentimes, she would pull her pants down and take off her own pull-up after peeing.
-She was staying dry for long stretches of time and during naps.
-She would tell us when she had to poop and ask to go into the bathroom to have “privacy”.
I also think it’s important that your child has the ability to wash her hands independently or with minimal assistance once she starts potty training.
Make hand-washing part of your potty training practice to get your toddler in the habit of good bathroom hygiene! Using a step stool and faucet extender can help with this.
The best thing to keep in mind when potty training is to have realistic expectations of what your child is capable of doing.
Read on for tips on an easy, low-stress way for starting to potty train your toddler.
Talk About the Potty with Your Toddler
One of the best ways to help your child learn ANYTHING is by talking to them about it. Introduce the words you want to use for the toilet, pee, poop, etc. Use them often when changing your toddler’s diaper and when talking about going to the bathroom.
Modeling is also a great way for toddlers to learn. If you feel comfortable with this, let your toddler see you using the toilet. At the same time, talk to him or her about what’s happening.
Most moms typically can’t go to the bathroom without their toddler watching their every move anyway! My daughter loves to open the door while I’m on the toilet, say “Mommy, do you need privacy?” and then proceed to enter the bathroom and hang out with me.
I know I’m not the only one!
Utilize this time to explain the process of using the toilet. Toddlers love to copy what mom and dad are doing. This can help get them motivated to use their own potty.
Introduce the Potty To Your Toddler
We bought a potty for my daughter when she was about 18 months. We kept it in the bathroom, told her what it was for, and offered it to her whenever we thought of it.
She peed in her potty a few months before her second birthday. I was totally NOT expecting it. We celebrated but after that, she wasn’t consistent with peeing on the toilet until after she turned two.
My husband and I never wanted to push or pressure her to use the toilet. We tried to ask if she needed to pee on the potty and waited for her to be ready.
When we were home, we encouraged sitting on the potty at certain times. For example, in the morning after waking, after naps, and before bed. I also encouraged sitting on the potty if I noticed her pull-up had been dry for several hours.
I do credit a lot of the ease we had with potty training to my toddler’s daycare.
They also noticed she was showing signs of readiness and worked to encourage her to use the toilet. They would put her on the potty at regular intervals throughout the day.
Creating a potty schedule and inviting your toddler to sit on the potty every two or three hours can be helpful in establishing a potty routine.
Which Type of Potty Seat Should You Get?
I wasn’t sure which type of toilet my daughter would prefer – either the potty chair or a potty seat on top of the big toilet.
I have read that if a potty is too low, placing the toddler in a squatting position, it can have negative effects on bladder emptying (2).
Furthermore, sitting on a normal toilet with no potty seat can make bladder emptying more difficult because a toddler will contract their thigh muscles and not relax the muscles they need to urinate.
The conclusion would be to use the right size potty chair so your toddler is sitting with their feet on the floor or a potty seat over the toilet with a step stool or other support for their feet.
We used this potty chair. We liked it because it can be used as a standalone toddler toilet and also has a removable seat you can put over a regular toilet. Plus, it can be used as a step stool and is pretty easy to clean.
Read Books About the Potty
Toddlers can learn a lot through stories and looking at pictures. There are a lot of potty training books available.
Create Your Own Potty Book
Creating your own book is a tip I used to recommend to families when I worked as an early intervention therapist.
This is a great idea to use for kids who are having trouble in any area of development, are starting a new routine, or have difficulty with transitions.
You can be as simple or elaborate as you want.
Start by photographing your toddler going through the motions of using the toilet. Take a picture of her walking to the bathroom, pulling down her pants, sitting on the potty, etc.
If you want to make an easy potty training book, print the pictures and put them in a cheap photo album.
You can also glue the pictures onto construction paper, add words, laminate the pages — however creative you want to be!
Then, read through the book with your toddler, pointing out how they use the potty. Seeing themselves use the potty can help motivate them to continue to do so.
The book also helps remind them what the routine is for using the toilet.
Watch Shows About Using the Potty
Screen time may be controversial but there are some instances when it can be pretty helpful with helping your toddler learn new skills.
I would encourage watching shows about using the toilet WITH your toddler so you can talk about what’s going on.
This would be especially helpful if your child is already familiar with the characters and feels a connection to them.
In particular, we love the Daniel Tiger episode: Prince Wednesday Goes to the Potty / Daniel Goes to the Potty.
My daughter watched this one day and it helped a lot with potty motivation. I’d ask, “Do you have to use the potty?” and she would say, “Just like Daniel Tiger does!”
Utilize Pull-Ups To Minimize Accidents
We kept my daughter in pull-ups until she was basically potty trained.
She could maneuver the pull-ups up and down herself.
If she did have an accident, it wasn’t such a big deal because then we’d just change her.
I feel like this saved time, stress and having to do extra laundry!
This may not work for everyone. Some parents may feel like putting their kids in underwear and allowing them to have accidents will help them learn to use the toilet quicker.
However, my daughter was telling us when she went pee so I didn’t feel like she needed to FEEL the wet sensation of peeing with underwear on. The few times this did happen, she got really upset even though we didn’t make a big deal out of it.
So utilizing the pull-ups until she was no longer having accidents worked best for our family.
Get Your Toddler Excited About Underwear
This is a pretty popular tip – but that’s because it works! Let your toddler pick out their own big girl or big boy underwear.
When we took her to buy underwear, she was so excited to have Paw Patrol on her underwear.
We keep her underwear in a drawer in her dresser that she can reach because she loves being able to open it herself and pick out which underwear she wants to wear.
She loves wearing underwear (“like mommy and daddy”) so I also used this to motivate her to sit on the potty.
For example, I’d ask if she wanted underwear or a pull-up. She’d always choose underwear. Then I’d tell her if she wants underwear, she has to sit on the potty. It’s okay if she doesn’t go, but she has to try. And she’d do it! Then she’d get to put on underwear.
Make a Connection Between Sitting on the Toilet and Going Pee/Poop
Before they can be fully potty trained, toddlers need to sense the urge to pee/poop and understand what that means. They also have to understand that peeing and pooping should happen on the toilet. Here are some fun ways to help them learn to associate going to the bathroom on the potty.
Create a Potty Song
Create a potty song and sing this every time your toddler pees/poops in his diaper. Then, sing it whenever he sits on the potty. This helps him to make a connection between peeing/pooping and sitting on the potty.
Start Changing Your Toddler in the Bathroom
This is easier to do once your toddler is in pull-ups and you can easily slide them off and on. It helps him to associate the bathroom with being changed and subsequently with going to the bathroom IN the bathroom.
Sit Your Toddler on the Toilet After She Pees in Her Diaper
I used this tactic to get my daughter to make a connection between peeing and sitting on her potty. It may seem backward to put them on the potty AFTER they’ve already gone. However, my daughter seemed to pick up the concept pretty quickly.
Motivate Your Toddler To Use the Potty
A big part of being a toddler is learning independence. Some toddlers might be self-motivated to use the potty because they love doing things themselves.
If necessary, you can provide extra motivation. We used a sticker chart with my daughter when we first started to potty train her. Every time she used the potty, she got to pick out a sticker to put on the chart.
You could also try keeping a box of small toys for after your toddler uses the potty. Let him know once he gets a certain number of stickers, he can pick out a toy.
Alternatively, use verbal praise or high fives if your child responds positively to these.
A friend of mine potty trained her daughter by giving her a gummy bear every time she used the toilet. It worked!
You know your child best and can decide what will motivate him to use the potty if he needs a little extra encouragement.
How To Easily Potty Train Your Toddler: An Overview
We used a gradual approach to potty train our toddler which was an easy, low-stress and no-mess way to help her learn how to go to the bathroom on the toilet.
- Make sure your toddler is showing signs of being ready to start toilet training
- Talk about pee, poop and the potty and model using the toilet
- Introduce a potty chair to your toddler
- Read books about going on the potty OR create your own book featuring your toddler with pictures of her sitting on the potty, flushing the toilet, washing her hands, etc.
- Get your toddler excited about underwear and let her pick out her own big girl underwear
- Help her make a connection between sitting on the toilet with peeing/pooping. Use some of the ideas above or come up with your own way that works for your family.
- Motivate your toddler in whatever way works for you!
Finally, when potty training your toddler remember to be gentle with your toddler AND yourself.
How did you potty train your toddler? Did they have any potty training regression or was it smooth sailing from start to finish? I’d love to hear other mama’s stories!