It might feel like just yesterday you were mastering the art of diapering a newborn, and now you’re looking for potty training tips. Crazy, right?! Potty training is a big deal — not only for you but also for your toddler, who is learning to be more independent every day.
You know your baby best of all, so remember to follow their cues and stay true to your parenting style. For the rest, we’ve got you covered. Here are our top tricks for how to potty train.
Start when they’re ready
So, what is the best age to start potty training? Well, there isn’t really a right or wrong when it comes to the age to start potty training, although most children will be somewhere between 18 months and 3 years of age when they’re ready.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a readiness approach, as opposed to a specific age bracket, to ensure your child is developmentally ready. How can you tell? Well…
How do I tell if my toddler is ready to potty train?
Looking for signs of readiness will make the whole process easier and can help avoid regressions. Before starting to potty train, your toddler should do most of the following:
- Shows an interest in you or others using the bathroom
- Can understand and verbalize words to do with going to the bathroom
- Pull down their diaper and pants, and pull them up again
- Tell you if their diaper is wet or dirty and ask for a diaper change if they want one
- Can stay dry for 2 or more hours at a time, while awake and during naps
- Understands the link between feeling the urge to pee or poop, and actually peeing or pooping.
What is the best way to potty train a toddler?
Once you’ve determined your toddler is ready for potty training, there are lots of potty training ideas to make the process simple. We’ve got you.
Choose a potty or a toddler toilet seat
To potty train, you can either use a separate potty or use a toddler seat that sits on top of your toilet. Most parents will find a potty more flexible as you can move it about the house to have it close by – like in your living room if that’s where you spend most of your time – to save you from a mad dash to the bathroom. Or, your toddler might see you sitting on the big toilet, and want in on that action too. Go with whatever works for you!
Introduce the potty early
Involve your toddler by letting them choose their own potty. Having the potty in the bathroom, before you even start potty training, can help create a link between the potty and needing to pee or poop. They might even like practicing sitting on it with their clothes on.
You could also use storytime as a way of getting them used to the idea with a fun potty training book.
Take your time
How do I potty train my toddler in 3 days? is a common question asked by Peanut mamas. If you can, set aside a few days where you can stay home to focus on potty training.
In reality, the process could take weeks (or months!), but by making sure your toddler is ready and setting aside time to specifically concentrate on potty training, you might be able to make the process more quick and simple.
You can start by going cold-turkey on the diapers. If you see signs like your toddler grunting or crossing their legs, take them to the potty. If they’re not showing any signs, set an alarm for every 20 minutes, place your toddler on their potty or toddler seat, and give them time to go. As more and more pees and poops are taken on the potty, gradually extend the time between potty breaks.
Don’t force it
If they don’t want to sit on the potty, don’t force it. They need to be happy and calm to be able to go, so there’s no benefit to making them stay on the potty if they don’t want to be there.
Set up a routine
If you aren’t able to stay home for an extended period, you might be wondering how many hours a day should you potty train? Well, some parents find offering the potty at certain times of day works better for their child. Offering time to sit on the potty as soon as they wake from sleep, about an hour after a large drink, or 15-30 minutes after a meal might work with the routine of your toddler’s bodily functions. This routine might be easier to follow if your toddler is in childcare too.
Keep calm and carry on
Try to avoid showing disappointment or frustration when your child has an accident. Instead, focus on trying again — “Oh well! Maybe next time we can make it to the potty.”
It’s usually easier to tell when your toddler has to poop than pee, so offering the potty when you can see your child grunting or making noises for a poop can be a good place to start.
It might take 5 minutes, or it might take half an hour, for your little one to successfully use the potty, so try not to rush them! Taking a book to read them or a toy they can play with whilst on the potty will make it more fun and relaxing for both of you!
Show them where the poop goes
If they do poop in their diaper or the potty, tip it in the toilet and let them flush it away. They might enjoy seeing the whole process through.
If your little one sits on the potty, praise them! If they go in the potty, praise them! If they wake up dry, praise them! See where we’re going with this?! Positive reinforcement will give them a sense of achievement, no matter how small the step.
Practise hand hygiene
After every potty or toilet use, make hand-washing part of the routine with warm, soapy water.
And if you’re also wondering…
Potty training tips for girls
Potty training girls means poop first, pee later?
In many instances, girls will pee when they poop. So if it’s easier to tell when your little one is having a bowel motion, use that as your cue to put them on the potty, and before long they’ll be peeing in there too. Learn more about potty training girls.
Potty training tips for boys
Not only do boys have to master using the potty, but they also have to master peeing standing up! Potty training boys by letting them sit down to pee first is usually best (and less messy!) while they get the hang of things. Watching Dad or older siblings pee standing up can show them how to do it, and books can help illustrate it too.
💡 More around Potty Training:
How to Start Potty Training