toilet training a child at any age
Toddler

How to Potty Train Your Toddler

These are the tips we followed to potty train our two year old, almost three year old boy toddler!

Maybe you can’t wait to potty train your child. Maybe you are absolutely dreading it, or just have no clue where to start!

That was me. I was looking forward to it because I was sick of diapers but I had no clue where to start or when to start.

There are so many different toilet training methods out there, from the 3-day method, the one week method, whether or not to use a reward system… I’m going to talk about the tips and tricks that worked for potty training our toddler son.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO START POTTY TRAINING

how to toilet train your toddler boy or girl

Potty Training Chart and Reward System

I love This Potty Training Chart Printable for potty training! The printable also comes with some more tips, some reward ideas and different methods to try.

A reward system is super helpful, especially to get started. Some people prefer not to use one and make it more of a ‘matter of fact’ situation, and if that works for you and your child awesome! I was not against rewards if it makes things a little easier haha!

We started with treats and moved to this potty training magnet chart. I explain how we did that below.

Oh Crap! Potty Training Book

I loved reading the Oh Crap! Potty Training Book. It was very simply laid out with all the steps you need and anything that could go wrong explained, as well as how to get back on track.

You can follow it exactly or make it your own and take from it what you need! It has a lot of great information.

Little Potty or Big Toilet Kid Seat

Of course you are going to need a little potty or a toilet seat for the big potty. Whichever you think your little one will prefer is fine. However, if you go with a toddler toilet seat for the big toilet, I would either get a step stool or this awesome built in step stool toilet seat combo, so they can go up on their own.

Toilet Training Books for Kids

I also loved the idea of getting our son ready for toilet training by using visuals, like books, to explain what was going to happen. You can start reading them before you start potty training and during to explain the concept and make it more fun and understandable for your child.

Any of these are great! My son loves the interactive ones, but I recommend getting a few. You can use them to read while they are on the potty to keep them there longer.

Underwear

You won’t necessarily need these right away but you definitely want to have them on hand so you are ready when they are!

A fun thing to do with them is to get them to pick it out on their own. It makes them feel a little more in control of what is going to happen and they will be more likely to wear them if they picked them out themselves.

WHEN TO START POTTY TRAINING

When to start potty training will vary for every child of course!

Some may be ready as early as 18 months, and some start getting their child used to sitting there even earlier. That being said, your child will most likely not be developmentally and physically ready until around 2.5 years old.

You want to look for signs that your toddler may be ready or getting close to being ready. These include:

  • Showing interest in the potty
  • Pulling at their diaper, or completely pulling it off
  • Wanting privacy when they go in their diaper
  • They let you know when they are going
  • Understand potty words
  • May be able to perform simple dressing and undressing on their own

Some may not show all of these signs, and some of these things, for example dressing and undressing, can be taught along the way. Some may also show a few of these signs a little earlier than expected and continue to show more signs later on, when they are more ready.

HOW TO START POTTY TRAINING

Stay Home to Start

Prepare yourself to be home for a few days at least, if you can manage. Start on a weekend if you work full time to get a good head start. You don’t want to be out and about right away so your child has time to get used to the potty at home, and you have lots of time to practice.

Make sure if you are starting on a weekend and then handing it over to other caregivers that you are open with them about how you are potty training and where your child is at with it. Make sure they are open with you as well! Things may go differently at home than they do at daycare or with another caregiver.

On the Potty

Have your child completely naked, or at least bottomless to start. This allows them to see exactly what’s happening and where it goes when they pee.

Some people put their children on the toilet every half an hour to an hour, some less some more. Eventually you will learn how often your child pees, but we started with about every half hour. We quickly learned he was the type of kid to hold it all in for awhile and then let one giant pee out. Some will pee less, but more often.

How long this takes will vary depending on each child, but our son got the concept in about 2-3 days. By day 3 we decided to put him in underwear, as we were having less accidents and he had peed in the potty multiple times.

Reward System

It’s up to you whether or not you want to reward or not, but we decided to use rewards. At first it was a Smartie when he sat on the potty, then just when he peed as he had no problem sitting there.

Soon we moved to a magnet board, and every time he went, he put a magnet on the board. When it was full, he got a treat. I like this way because it allows you to use rewards while slowly getting rid of them.

Accidents

It’s important not to freak out over accidents, because they will happen. Your child may not even make it to the potty at all the first day or two. That’s okay! The first day or so is about realizing what’s happening and how it feels so they can learn to recognize when they need to go. You can watch them to learn to recognize the signals they give when they need to go.

Freaking out over the accidents will only cause them anxiety and panic, which of course we don’t want. It’s okay to remind them that now we pee in the potty, not on the floor, without causing them shame. Just clean it up, even get them to help you. Then put them on the potty to remind them where to go, and to possibly catch some more. Then move on.

Success

By about a week to a week and a half, our son was only in underwear at home, letting us know when he had to pee, and minimal to no accidents ever.

By about 3 weeks I was able to comfortably take him out to the grocery store, on a drive, to an appointment in underwear. He would go at home before we went anywhere and knew that he was in underwear and would hold it until we got home. Previously I would put him in a diaper to leave the house and return to underwear when we got home. He knew when he was in underwear and when he was in a diaper.

Throughout the potty training process we taught him how to pull his own underwear and pants down, and back up. All it took was practice. He likes his little potty, and takes the bowl out to dump it in the big toilet himself.

Night Time

Night time diapers are a whole other story, and currently our son is still wearing a pull-up at night, at not quite 3 years old. We are in no rush to take them away. Some children stop going at night on their own, some need some guidance and that can take some more training.

For now, our son is still young enough that we don’t worry about it. If you would like to do night time potty training as well, I recommend taking a look at the Oh Crap! potty training book again! It has a great guide on how to do this.

You can also take a look at the author, Jamie Glowacki’s Blog where you will find more potty training and other toddler tips!

BONUS TIPS

  1. If you can, try and up your child’s fluid intake so they are peeing more often. This gives you more chances to get them on the toilet.
  2. Make sure you have fun with it! Potty training can be stressful, but it’s also an opportunity for some quality time with your child since you are home all day. Bring out the special snacks, movies, games and activities!
  3. Remember that 10 years from now no one is going care how long it took your child to potty train, or what age, or how exactly you did it. Take what you can from these tips and make it your own! You know your child best, so try not to stress too much!

These are all the best tips for potty training your toddler!

tips on toilet training a toddler

I am a military wife, a university graduate, and a new mama living in Nova Scotia. Follow me on this journey to learn about pregnancy, motherhood, staying healthy, and taking care of you and your family!

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