Potty training tips for toddlers: The Best Advice from the Experts

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Inside: Read the stories of eight mama experts as they share their experiences and their best potty training tips for toddler girls and boys.

The first time I tried potty training my toddler, she was just over two. I was determined to get the whole potty training thing right the first time.

I decided we were going to try the three-day method and go all out since my daughter was showing interest in going potty on the toilet. So I cleared our schedule, bought pee and poo presents, a little potty, and gated off all of the carpeted areas in my house.

Long story short, there was accident after accident, the excitement of something new soon turned to agony for my toddler and our bodies and our emotions were tired. It was exhausting. I realized she was not ready. That is why I need a mama tribe. A group of experts (mamas) who have tried and experienced what I was going through.

potty training tips for toddlers
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Potty training tips for toddlers: The Best Advice from the Experts…Mamas

“Have LOTS of underwear on hand. Be ready to wash a lot of stuff. Sweatpants or stretchy pants work best. Personally, I didn’t want to clean out a little potty (poop just grosses me out) so we bought a new seat from Home Depot that has a detachable little seat that is magnetic to the lid. Speaking of cleaning..when they have their accidents, which they will, we bought kid and pet spray to clean up with. We did treats for going in the potty. CONSISTENCY IS KEY! That is a huge one. Go easy on yourself. Always have wine on hand.”

-Erin from Hey Erin Nicole

“I gave my son the iPad and let him sit and watch YouTube kids till he went #1. We would sit on the potty every 30-45 minutes. Then gradually increased the time in between going. This worked great until he started just sitting on the potty in order to play the iPad and not going potty. We used lots of rewards (m&m, suckers etc). When we were really pushing for #2, we let him pick out a toy from the store and we set it on the counter in the bathroom. He could look at it but not play with it until he pooped. Then he got the toy, ice cream, and lots of praise!”

-Lauren R. from the Balanced Mommies Community

potty training tips

“When my first son was born, our pediatrician told us not to even think about potty training until age three. According to him, boys develop at a slower rate than girls, especially in the bathroom arena. He was right. I followed his lead, and one day he decided all on his own that he was ready. From that day forward, no more diapers. I bought a potty chair and put him on it often, so he can get used to the feeling of sitting on the potty. I just don’t follow any strict regimens or put life on hold for however many days to attempt to force the issue. When kids are allowed to make the decision for themselves, it takes away the stress and pressure you both may feel. I’ve not had a child yet who wasn’t potty trained by some point in their third year.”

– Sarah from Loving Little Dixie

“We don’t do any rewards and no excessive praise and absolutely no punishment or shame for not making it to the potty (no accidents, just missed opportunities). We are completely leaving it in our almost 2-year-olds hands to master it when she’s ready. She does some pees on the potty and has even done a poop. We aren’t training her, just leaving it in her capable hands to let us know when she’s ready to ditch the diapers. No pressure. To be honest, I find diapers more convenient! My biggest thing is to not create any pressures or expectations so early on. Just focusing on listening to her body and moving at her pace. We brought the potty out at 12 months to get her used to it. One in her playroom and one in the bathroom. I take her in with me for all pees and let her sit on her potty (to start she would be fully clothed, now she wants her diaper off).”

-Melissa V. from the Balanced Mommies Community

potty training tips for toddlers
This is the potty seat we used.

“We used a seat on the big toilet with his own little step stool. For quite a while we tried pull-ups during the day, but I finally got brave enough to do just underwear around the house. The first day he had accidents literally every 15 minutes, but by day 3 he was good to go! We didn’t do rewards or stickers, just talked a lot about he was becoming a big boy and being responsible like his daddy.”

– Julie M. from the Balanced Mommies Community

“We waited for our daughter to show signs that she was ready and brought the potty out so she was aware of it and we could introduce her to it in a slow and steady way without the pressure of potty training. When she seemed ready, we began putting her on the potty to go pee and asking her if she needed to go to the bathroom. We rewarded her at first to give positive re- enforcement, and then phased the rewards out in return for just praise. She’s now fully potty trained and wears underwear to bed. We started potty training when she was 2 and a half and she stopped wearing pull-ups about two months before her 4th birthday.

We had wanted to potty train earlier, but it really came down to her being ready and then following her cues and offering encouragement.

Bullet tips:

  • Wait until your child shows signs they’re ready/ interested
  • Bring out the potty before you start potty training so they get used to it without pressure
  • Offer encouragement and rewards to re- enforce that it’s a positive thing to go on the potty; phase out the rewards as they get the hang of it
  • For bedtime, use a pull-up until they seem to be able to hold it until the morning or get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night
  • Keep a little potty in the car for on- the- go to avoid accidents (great for before/ after grocery shopping and other errands”

Katherine from Our Happy Place

Potty training tips for toddlers
My daughter loved reading this book about the potty.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff. Eventually, they are all ready and that’s the right time. Everything else will drive you crazy. And I’m not going nuts over a few extra diapers.”

– Nina L. from the Balanced Mommies Community

“Have an open door policy. The kids seeing you take care of business helps to spark their interest in the potty. It’s not like you will ever pee alone again anyway!

Let them learn to use the potty at their own pace. If three days is their jam, yay! If not, letting them take longer is totally ok! You might even start and realize they aren’t ready and decide to stop and revisit it later.”

-Amy from Two Little Rippers

My Potty Training Tips

What I have learned about potty training after successfully toilet training my toddler was that I needed to follow her lead and let the stress go. I decided to take the long road to potty training and ask my daughter every day if she wanted to go potty a few times a day, if she did – great, if she didn’t – that was fine too.

At first, I heard a lot of “no’s” but one day, she said “yes,” three times. The next day she went five times. And finally, the third day she went all day on the toilet with no accidents and wearing underwear. I also would ask her in the morning if she wanted to wear underwear or a pull-up, because then it was low stress and her choice. Now, at three-years-old, she still wears a pull-up at nap time and a diaper at night. And you know what, I am ok with that. I think you have to read your child and figure out what will work best for your child.

What potty training tips have worked best for your family?

Many of the answers from the experts came from the Balanced Mommies Facebook Community mamas. If you’d like to join, we’d love to have you join our tribe! Click here.

PS- If you liked this piece, you may also like How to Get Your Toddler to Bed With No Excuses.