Potty Training: 15 Tips from One Mother to Another

Potty training can be very intimidating. Both you and your child have built a confidence and dependable routine focused around diapers and at this point you’ve finally mastered it. You could change a diaper in your sleep and probably have a few times. But diapers aren’t exactly cheap and whether this is your first baby or you are a seasoned parent, you know that this milestone is a must, for your sake and your toddler’s.

So where do you start? And how can you make the experience less painful for you and your little one? Read on to discover my advice on potty training after doing it myself with 3 girls. Keep in mind while reading, that every child is different and ultimately you will find yourself using these tips as more of a guide rather than the gospel.

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1. Introduce the potty seat early on

One of the first things to do with successful potty training is create a familiar and safe experience for your toddler. Most toddlers pick and choose what they are comfortable with (sometimes changing from day to day). So allowing them to sit on the potty or play pretend with a doll or stuffed animal before any real expectation of them using it is a great way to give them that comfort. Our 1st and 3rd daughters “accidentally” peed in the potty seat months before the official potty training began. My husband and I actually frightened our 1st with our enthusiastic praises and surprise. But it was a start.

2. Diaper style change before potty training

This is not to suggest using pull-ups for training but more so to not pile on the new experiences all at the same time. With my 3rd, I decided instead of pull-ups or easy-ups to simply switch to Pampers 360. This made it easier going to the bathroom in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. Although daytime and night time training are to be done separately, this just made the transition into night time training easier.

3. Look for the signs

From the time you start to introduce the potty seat to your child(sometimes sooner) you should start to pay attention to your toddlers “tells”. Maybe their face turns red when awaiting the arrival of number 2 or maybe they hide behind the recliner when they need to go. Or it could be as subtle as they just squat. No matter how they do it, almost all kids have a tell. Learning the signs that your child is going or is about to go will be very helpful to determine when to try and sit it out. Or when they say they are done but are really just trying to revert to old habits(those habits being, going in their pants).

4. Potty training lingo

From very early on, I would narrate what we were doing for our girls. Things like, ‘Let’s wash your hair now’. Or ‘I have to put lotion on your feet now’. I did it to teach them to talk and to teach them to identify objects, places, or people. But it proved to be useful with potty training as well. Not only did it teach them what was poo or pee but also to verbalize when they needed to go and what they needed to do(1 or 2).

5. Monkey see Monkey do

Now this is a well known phrase used in basically all learning for children and holds true here too. I don’t know about all mommas, but this momma hasn’t went to the potty by herself since becoming a mother. Benefit, toddlers are constantly questioning your every action and they take it to heart, soaking it up like a sponge. Another added bonus is if your little one has older siblings then they mimic all that they do. You can definitely use this as an advantage in the potty training process.

6. Multiple Potty seats

Having several seats throughout your house can be a game changer for a toddler just learning to control their bladder. Quick and easy access to potty seats reduces the chance for an accident in those first 2-3 days. They don’t have to be big, fancy or even brand new but I suggest only using independent seats at first.

Starter Potty Seat

The adult toilet can be scary for your child. Plus having their own seat with their feet reaching the ground makes a toddler feel like a big kid! One of my child’s favorite seats is this miniature version of a normal household toilet.

In the Car Potty Seat

You will want a simple seat to take in the car for moments when you just left the house and your little one needs to go NOW! I suggest something with some stability so that your little one feels safe and secure. A removable bowl seat and wipes for easy cleanup and you don’t fear leaving the house during potty training.

On-the-Go Seat

Don’t stop living life while potty training. I chose to stay home the first 2 days starting with the bare butt training. But then I went to church, out to eat, and to the store. So go out to eat, take your child to the park, or visit your parents house. There are plenty of options for on-the-go potty training so that you don’t have to shut the world out during this experience but my choice is this. If your toddler doesn’t feel safe using this seat yet then you can always use the seat in your vehicle.

7. Washable Changing mats

In the topic of on-the-go potty training is another way to make your life easier and keep your toddler’s car seat protected from accidents. There are a few ways to keep the car seat dry but the one I loved the most was using cheaper re-washable changing mats. The ones we bought came in a pack of 3 and they were cloth on one side and the waterproof plastic on the other. I faced the cloth up to prevent any run down. In the event of an accident, I would have a back up mat along with an extra change of clothes in the diaper bag. Then the wet mat would go in the wash to be used again on the next outing.

8. Reward choice for potty training

Rewarding your child for their successful potty usage is a great way to encourage continued use. If you are like me and don’t allow candy but on special occasions then you could give a single piece of candy for each time your toddler leaves waste in the potty seat. And if you don’t want them hyped up or bribed with sugar then you could do the sticker chart that is pretty popular with a lot of moms. As they become a professional porcelain throne user, you could move the reward to a daily thing or even weekly and gift them with a toy for their efforts.

9. Big girl/boy undies

Some little ones aren’t impressed with leaving behind a bulky diaper. In fact, you may experience your toddler not having any accidents but requesting a diaper when they feel the urge to pee or poo. So this is where you have an opportunity to make big kid undies exciting and get your little one interested in putting away diapers for good. Take them to shop and pick out their favorite undies. I find that this encourages them to not only be a big kid but also to desire wearing their new attire full time!

10. BYE BYE Pee Pee

When my husband and I decided to start the potty training with our first daughter I read up on all the tips and tricks as you are doing now. One thing that I came across several times was that some children have an attachment to their number 2s. Therefore, they may start to hold it, leading to constipation and piling on extra stress that is the last thing you or your little one needs during this transition. So we took some advice from these mommas and always asked our girls to wave goodbye and flush their own waste(pee and poo). Saying goodbye was important to help them let go of this fear and allowing them to flush for themselves let them have the control of that goodbye.

11. Stick to a Potty training Schedule

As you probably already know, a schedule for a child is very important for clarity and learning. That applies greatly for potty training as well. Until your child becomes familiar with knowing when they need to go, we need to make sure they are trying every 30 minutes. Having them sit on the potty even if they don’t go gives them opportunity to achieve the goal. I’d also like to add that being present with your child during sit time helps them focus. You will have more success when they aren’t feeling anxious about missing out on something else.

12. Use positive encouragement

It appears they will never get it, they did so good yesterday but today they are suffering from memory loss. Complete potty training takes time and learning something new is stressful for them too. My advice is to stay consistent and NEVER say ‘it’s okay’. Toddlers hang on to your every word or choose to not hear anything you say at all. So choose your wording wisely during potty training. If they have an accident ask them to make sure they get it all out at the potty seat. And if they don’t have anything left in them then simply say, ‘you will get it next time’. If we say that having an accident is ‘okay’ then they could get confused and continue having accidents. When accidents are in fact the one thing we are trying to teach them NOT to do.

13. Potty training songs

When your little one is doing sit times every 30 minutes, they’ll get over it fast. There is way cooler things to do than to go to the potty, especially for a toddler. When my child seemed to be distracted or always on the edge of her seat, I would sing, rap, dance. I would even grunt along with her. It may not seem cool but it works to keep your toddler interested and excited to go potty.

14. Lots of Praise

You would think that this topic would fall under positive encouragement or a reward system. Your toddler loves to see you happy because it makes them happy too. Hearing their momma praise them or seeing you do a celebratory dance goes a long way with success. Praise them for staying seated during sit times even when they don’t go. Also when they do go and praise them when the wave goodbye and wash their hands. We’re all hardwired to desire accomplishment. For our little ones that is simply wanting to make us smile or laugh or dance.

15. Don’t get it right away? TRY AGAIN

As I’ve already said, Complete potty training takes time and every child is their own person. I had the hardest time with our 2nd child. I was always comparing her to her older sister and wondering what I was doing wrong and why she wasn’t getting it. But in the end, she got it! So if you try for a couple of weeks and your little one seems to be losing interest. Or you feel like you are losing your mind, just stop, take 2-3 weeks off and then start back fresh. Your toddler will get it and when they do, it will be an amazing feeling for you and your child. Hang in there, Momma. You got this!

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