Potty Training: 23 Tips and Tricks
As your baby grows into a toddler and beyond, there are so many ways she becomes more and more independent. You’ll love seeing all of these exciting development milestones come and go, but one in particular might require a fair bit of your attention. That’s when your child goes from diapers to being fully potty trained.
Potty training is a complex process, and it can be tricky to know what the best approach is because every child learns differently, boys may learn differently from girls, and there is no one best way to teach the necessary skills.
Tips to Potty Train Your Toddler
To help you in your little one’s potty training adventure, we’ve compiled a list of 23 tips to help your toddler get the hang of potty training:
1. Make sure your child is ready. Try not to rush the process and start potty training too early, before your little one is actually capable of achieving success. Look for the signs of readiness in your child before starting to potty train your little one.
2. Get your child involved in choosing the potty. If possible, go shopping for the potty chair or potty seat together with your child. It will make him feel more included and more excited about using his brand-new potty.
3. Buy big kid underwear as a sign of encouragement. Purchase fun underwear, like ones with a favorite cartoon character or superhero graphic. Explain to your child that once he learns how to use the potty, he can wear this fun big kid underwear. You can also let him wear this underwear as a treat while potty training, too. Just be prepared for some potty accidents.
4. Place the potty in a convenient spot. The bathroom is the obvious location (and putting it there may help your child make the connection that going potty happens in the bathroom), but you may also want to think about placing the potty in your child's bedroom for easy access after naps, or in the playroom.
5. Get on a potty schedule. Once your little one starts potty training, implement a simple schedule. For example, you could encourage going on the potty after eating or after naptime. This lets your child know that going potty is a routine thing.
6. Use a sticker chart to track and reward progress. You can create a potty training progress chart and then hang it near the potty or in the bathroom. Every time your toddler does a good job, let him place a sticker on the chart. He’ll feel great every time he gets a new sticker.
7. Create a potty-training song. If your child seems nervous about using the potty, some musical encouragement could help him feel more relaxed and get into the groove. You could sing the song as you two head to the potty, or you can sing it together while he is using the potty. There are plenty of videos online of song ideas, or you could make up your own little ditty.
8. Shower your baby with praise. When your little one does a good job on the potty, tell him! You could also give him a high-five or a hug, or do whatever works to keep his motivation high and to reinforce that he’s doing a great job.
9. Give your baby a book. Read your little one a book about going to the potty while he’s actually on the potty, or let him look at one of his favorite picture books to make him pass the time and feel more relaxed.
10. Have naked time. Some parents swear by this tactic for potty training. The basic idea is that letting your child go naked at home encourages her to use the potty since she has no diaper to go into. For those children who are still finding it difficult to pull down their training pants to use the potty, this approach might be especially useful. This strategy might work best during the hot summer months, but, as with all of the tips in this article, it might not work for every child.
11. Potty train before bedtime and after waking. It’s a good idea to take your baby to the potty before she goes to bed and as soon as she wakes up in the morning. You might like to take her to use the potty during any nighttime wakings, too. Showing her the routine of going to the potty at regular times will help her build good habits and might help prevent some night-time accidents, too.
12. Train by example. Take your child with you the next time you need to use the toilet, and show her how easy it is to pee and poop. Dads might find it easier to teach little boys, and moms might demonstrate the process for girls. However, there’s no hard and fast rule, and you should go with what works for your family.
13. Magic tricks. Add some blue dye (or just some blue toilet bowl cleaner) to your toilet bowl. As your little one pees, the color of the toilet water will change from blue to green. An alternative is to add dish soap to the toilet. When your child pees, he will love watching it foam and bubble up.
14. Consider encouraging the toilet instead of the potty. You may prefer to start your child out on an toilet with a child seat instead of a freestanding potty. If so, reinforce the idea that the toilet is where the adults go, and that this is a great chance to do “grown-up” things. A stepstool or footstool will help him reach the toilet more easily and help him maintain his balance, too.
15. Give your boy some extra time. Sometimes boys need more time than girls to learn the difference between doing a number 1 and 2. It’s a good idea to start by teaching him how to pee while sitting down before teaching him to do it standing up.
16. Use target practice to encourage your boy. Once your boy is ready to try peeing standing up, you can start to teach him how to aim. One way to do this is to drop a piece O-shaped cereal into the toilet bowl or potty. Then encourage your boy to take aim. The satisfaction of making the target will serve as positive reinforcement.
17. Make pooping less scary. For your little one, passing a bowel movement might be frightening. His reluctance can lead to withholding, which can lead to constipation. Passing hard stools can be painful, too, and your child may associate pooping with pain. Teach your toddler (perhaps by watching a cartoon on the subject or by reading him a children’s book on potty training) that pooping is a natural process, and that there’s nothing to be afraid of.
18. Show and tell. Another tactic is to act out a “going to the bathroom” scene. Use a favorite doll or teddy bear to act out how the doll goes about using the toilet or potty. You can even ask your child to show you how the doll goes potty to reinforce the lesson.
19. Don’t flush right away. If you’re using your toilet to train, don’t flush right after your child has used the potty. The flushing sound can be especially scary in the initial stages of potty training. Introduce the concept of flushing gradually, perhaps once your toddler has gotten the hang of going potty, and make a fun game out of it—almost like letting your little one press an elevator button.
20. Don’t expect miracles in a few days. Some parents swear by 3-day potty training, which is kind of like potty training boot camp where the training occurs on a strictly timed schedule. Although this might work well for some, it’s not for every parent or child.
21. Try reverse psychology. If you find your child is having a hard time getting used to the idea of using the potty, or is simply refusing to do so, you might like to try some reverse psychology. For example, you might gently ask if she would rather stay in diapers even when she’s a big girl. The trick with this tactic is not to cross over into applying too much stress or pressure on your little one, as this can have the opposite effect and make her even more resistant to potty training.
22. Don’t punish mistakes. Although potty training struggles can be frustrating at times, resist the urge to get angry or punish your toddler. Instead, let her know that it’s OK and she can try again later. Added pressure will not help her learn any faster. It may also be that your little one isn’t ready yet, so consider putting potty training on hold for a few days or weeks.
23. Remember regression can happen. During the potty training phase, you might hit a snag or encounter setbacks. This is a normal and natural part of the learning process. Don’t be discouraged if this happens. Be patient. Try another technique. Give it time.
We hope that these tips can help you and your child during potty training. Don’t lose hope if it isn’t happening as seamlessly as you’d like. With one of these techniques, or perhaps with another technique you’ve found works for you, your little one will eventually get the hang of it.
By the way, with the Pampers Club app you can earn double points when you scan the easy-ups you’re using during potty training, and redeem your reward for gifts, discounts, and coupons. You deserve it!
How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.
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