1. MAKE SURE THEY ARE READY!! Don’t give into the pressure you may feel from outside sources to get your kid potty trained before he/she is ready. If they are not ready, you are in for a world of pain and frustration and it will inevitably take much longer than it would have had you waited.
2. Watch for the signs of readiness: They will start showing interest in the potty, be more aware of their own bowel movements, maybe act uncomfortable in their diaper when it’s messed. They are able to pull their pants up and down.
3. Get them excited: With my kids, we talked about the potty for months before we trained. “In a couple of months you will use the big boy potty and no more diapers!”
4. Get them acquainted with the potty: If you don’t already have a potty chair, make a big deal out of picking it out at the store, let them choose which one they like. Maybe let them decorate it or play with it with a stuffed animal. Leave it in the bathroom for a few months before you are ready to train so they get used to it.
5. Usually boys train later than girls: My boys have had great success potty training shortly after they turned three. I tried with my first boy at age 27 months and it was a nightmare. I waited until after he turned three and it was a breeze (comparatively speaking.)
6. Get a supplies kit together: When I potty train, I buy several items for Potty Training Week beforehand. I always get a potty chart with stickers (you can make your own or buy them), lots of juice boxes, a potty treat, a few reward toys, Pull ups, Big Kid underwear, and my potty training movie (only purchased once obviously.)
7. Start potty training at a time when there are no major life changes happening–no new babies or moves. Your child needs to feel secure enough to successfully transition.
8. Start potty training at a time when you have a whole week with nothing really going on–or clear your schedule. This can be really tricky to do in our busy world, but it’s so much better if you can dedicate your attention to your child’s potty training and not have to go anywhere and risk having lots of messy accidents or stressful situations.
9. Get them excited with a potty movie: I bought this movie called “Potty Power” which is a seriously corny movie and guaranteed the songs will be in your head for a month. But both my boys LOVED it and watched it pretty much non stop while potty training. It really got the concept of what was going on with this change in their life and got them excited to be a ‘big kid.’
10. Put them in underwear, no substitutions: I think Pull Ups have their place and we definitely use them, but not during the day. Pull Ups are too much like a diaper and they won’t learn the feeling of being wet. When underwear gets wet it is very uncomfortable which they will quickly learn.
11. Let them go commando: Sometimes the first day or two, it helps for them to be completely bare on the bottom, no underwear, Pull Ups or diapers. This really helps them to go potty without anything else to worry about and it is a big difference from wearing a diaper.
12. Avoid problematic foods: Certain foods seem to aggravate my kids’ stomach and give them some diarrhea. So it’s good to stay away from giving them these foods, especially while potty training.
13. Stock up on cleaning supplies: You will probably be cleaning up some yucky messes. It’s a good time to have carpet cleaner, Clorox wipes, Lysol, leach, and rags.
14. Juice them up: The first day or two, give them tons to drink. I let him drink how ever many juice boxes he wanted. This will give them lots of opportunities to try to go potty on the toilet, and the more they do it, the more practice they get. Give them popsicles too.
15. Set the timer: Set the timer for any amount of time from 10 minutes-30 minutes and when the timer goes off, go sit with your child in the bathroom while they try. There are also some fun Potty Training Apps that set the timer for you on the phone.
16. Expect to wait: The first few times they try to go potty, it will take FOREVER for it to happen. Just sit and wait, sing songs or talking or read a story or something. This is good bonding time.
17. Get excited: When your kid goes potty, shout it out to the rooftops!! “Great job!!” Be overly enthusiastic so he/she can feel like they are doing a good thing and making you so happy.
18. Call your friends: Sometimes when they first do it, we even will call family and friends to tell them that my kid just went potty and my family and friends get super excited too.
19. Teach them the whole routine to follow every time: For my kids, the routine is potty–flush–wash hands. There is never any deviation and I think that gives them a sense of routine which makes it easier to remember at first.
20. Potty treats! After they go or even just trying, reward them with a small treat. I bought a huge jar of Jelly Bellies and he got one bean for trying and two for going potty. Five for #2. He loves picking out the colors and it’s not enough candy to give him a sugar overload.
21. Sticker Charts: After going potty, let them choose a sticker to put on their potty chart. After a certain amount of stickers, they can earn a special toy. Maybe give them extra stickers for a bowel movement or a day with no accidents.
22. Expect setbacks: Often the first day of potty training can go so well because your expectations are lower that you don’t even realize how high they have gotten for Day 2. But remember, potty training Day 2 can be worse than Day 1 because the novelty is wearing off. You might have more accidents to deal with on Day 2 and feel frustrated that you’re not getting through to your child. But after a few accidents, your child will start to realize that this whole underwear thing is not going away so maybe they should try using the toilet after all.
23. Stick it out: Unless you truly believe that maybe your child really isn’t ready, it’s best to start as if you mean to go on. Remember that this HAS to be done at some point so no matter how hard it is, it WILL get easier and it is SO worth it. Kind of like giving birth.
24. No pressure for nighttime training: Some people are adamant about training both night and day at the same time, but I don’t worry too much if my child wears a Pull Up at night for awhile. It takes a lot more maturity for a child to really recognize when they have to go in the midst of sleep, especially if your child is a deep sleeper.
25. Buy the flushable wipes: These are great for wiping messy bums because they just work a lot better than toilet paper and I think they are easier. You will have to help your child wipe for a little while but they will get the hang of it.
26. Introduce the Grown Up Toilet: As soon as you think they are getting the hang of going potty, try having them sit on the regular toilet. You can buy some toilet seats that are child size and get a stool for them to put their feet on. The sooner they get acquainted and get over any fears they might have, the more success you will have outside of your home.
27. Concerning boys and standing up: You will have to have your husband or an older brother teach your son how to tinkle standing up. This often can be the best thing because it’s so easy to stand and pee instead of sitting down. But lots of people recommend teaching them to sit down first.
28. Aim at a target: For boys standing up, it’s helpful if they have something to aim at in the toilet bowl. Sometimes you can throw a few Cheerios in or even a ping pong ball. My kids got excited about the cheerios.
Preparing to Go Out
After you’ve spent a few days at home and your child is getting the hang of it, you might consider trying to go somewhere. Here are a few tips for going out with your newly-trained child.
29. Make sure they are ready: Don’t try to go out before they have a handle on it because you are only putting yourself and your child in a miserable situation.
30. Be prepared: This is the best line of defense. Get a travel potty, bags, wipes, extra change of clothes and shoes.
31. Line your carseat: You can buy pads for their carseat (like the kind you use for potty training dogs) or a towel.
32. Have them try first: Before going anywhere, have them try to go. They may not be able to get anything out but it’s helpful to have them sit for the length of a song (like the ABCs) and usually something comes out.
33. Know where the restrooms are: Wherever you go, it’s helpful to know where the restrooms are and show them to your child when you first arrive.
34. Remind: When you are out and about, your child will be distracted and forget about going potty. Make sure to remind them every so often and ask.
35. Make the outings short: If you have to go shopping, make it a quick trip. You can go for longer at a friend of family member’s house where they have more friendly bathrooms.
36. Have a portable potty chair: These are handy to keep in the car for longer car trips or if you go to a park or something that doesn’t have facilities. They usually use bags that you can line the seat with and then throw it away. Or you can buy a cheap potty seat and throw a diaper in their for them to potty on top of, then throw the diaper away.
37. Sit Backwards: Some public toilets are very un-friendly to kids and just enormous (“Did you see these toilets? They’re ginormous!”) They also have a weird horseshoe shape toilet seat that is hard for them to sit on. You can put your child on the toilet backwards and they will have an easier time sitting on it.
38. For long car trips, consider a Pull Up: I wouldn’t recommend going on a long car trip soon after potty training, but if you have to, it’s probably better to just put them in a Pull Up. Chances are you hard work won’t be undone with one day in a Pull Up.
The Months After and Night Training
The first week is the hardest, but your work isn’t over.
39. Remind for the first little while, then try to let them be in control of their own bathroom trips. This helps them to exercise the independence it takes for successful potty training. They can’t always rely on your reminders.
40. Take an extra change of clothes with you for awhile.
41. Expect imperfection. Sometimes it can be frustrating when your child is still having accidents four or five months after you train them. But just be patient and remind them to use the toilet. It usually takes 1-2 full years for them to stop having accidents.
42.: For nighttime training: If they are waking up dry, they will probably do well to train at night. But some kids are heavy sleepers and won’t be able to wake up to go.
43: Decrease the liquids: You don’t need to juice them up all the time and if you are trying to night train, decrease the liquids close to bedtime to as little as possible. Don’t send them to bed with sippy cups or bottles.
44: Introduce a reward for waking up dry: Sometimes kids who night train later lose interest in wanting to wear underwear at night. If you give them a reward for waking up dry, this could motivate them again.
45: Expect bed wetting for a long time: Some kids do very well with night training from the very beginning while others wet the bed for years. Don’t worry too much about it, just as long as you are working with them to try and improve.
46: Night time waking: Some parents get their children up to pee right before they go to bed. Often their children are still so sleepy they go to the bathroom and then go right back to sleep.
47: Bed wetting alarms: Occasionally if your older child is still having a real issue with bed wetting, there are some alarms you can buy that help them wake up when they react with moisture in the bed.
There are always special issues with potty training…it is rarely clear cut and dry (no pun intended!) There will be set backs and some children have a problem with bowel movements. Here are some things to consider:
Setback #1. Your child gets diarrhea: My oldest had to go on an antibiotic for Strep Throat a month after potty training. This gave him the runs and after cleaning up accident after accident, I just decided to have him wear Pull Ups until he was done with the medicine. I was really worried he would want to revert back to diapers, but he did pretty well transitioning back. I just reminded him that Pull ups are like underwear and we still have to do potty in the toilet. For other instances of diarrhea, try giving them Tums and probiotics.
Setback #2: Your child won’t have a bowel movement: Sometimes a child gets distressed about the feeling of making a bowel movement in a toilet, almost like they are losing a part of their body. So they just start holding it in, which is very unhealthy. To get through this, give them plenty of high fiber foods and avoid constipating foods like cheese and red meat. If this doesn’t work you may have to give them something like Metamucil.
Setback #3: They have been doing fine for months, then start having accidents again: This is probably due to pre-occupation. As kids, they get busy playing hard and can’t be bothered with using the potty. To overcome this, you may have to institute potty treats and sticker charts again. Find some kind of motivation for them to want to use the potty. Expect accidents for 1-2 years after, decreasing in frequency.
There are plenty of other kinds of setbacks which I can’t give solutions to all of them. But if you have a question, please feel free to leave a comment here and I will do my best to seek an answer for you.
That’s all I can think of right now! Good luck with potty training your child and here’s to a very dry next year.
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