I’ve potty trained 4 children now, and though I can’t speak for the rest of the world, I can share what I’ve learned about the process. The potty training process only took 3 days with each child!
When to Start
I strongly recommend waiting until your child is about 3 years old, if not older. Mine were 3 3/4, 3 1/2, 2 3/4, and 3 1/3. (The youngest to train was a girl, and the others were boys.) Simply indicating the need for a diaper change isn’t enough to verify readiness. I wait until they are able to fully dress and undress themselves without help. I don’t think potty training counts if you have to be there every time they use the toilet for 6 months. Just wait. It’s worth it.
You’ll need to be at home for at least a few days. (Thanks to quarantine, that’s been pretty easy to arrange this time around.) Make sure to have the following before beginning:
- at least 10 pairs of underwear with an exciting picture that your child has picked out. We’ve had princesses, the Avengers, Cars, etc.
- a chart to track progress with at least enough spaces for a few days
- stickers to put on the chart
- a small treat (such as M&M’s or Skittles) to give for each time using the potty
- a potty chair, maybe. See the section below for more info.
Start off by having your child wear a shirt and underwear, nothing else. He/she needs to learn how to remove the underwear to use the potty. If there’s an accident, it’s not as messy as being naked. After a few days, you can add bottoms. Make sure to help with wiping until you’re sure it’s being done right.
Track all successes on the chart with stickers and give out the treats. I give 2 M&M’s for #1 and 4 for #2 because I’m just that glad not to be changing diapers. After the chart is filled, I consider potty training complete! I then let my child choose a special toy to celebrate, usually something around $25.
Accidents do happen, especially on the first day. Make sure to stay calm as you help your child clean it up. If there are still lots of accidents after a few days, consider putting off training for a while.
Keep your child in diapers at night for a trial period. If the child is dry most mornings, put down a plastic sheet under the regular one and switch to underwear. Woohoo! None of the older 4 kids has had an issue with nighttime training. Since they were a bit older when they started, it wasn’t a challenge we had to deal with except for occasional accidents, usually during illness (hence the plastic sheet).
If you unfortunately need to clean up a carpet or mattress, use a mix of baking soda and peroxide to make a paste. Let it sit until it dries and then vacuum it up.
What Kind of Potty to Use?
Little potties are gross, but effective. We’ve used a combination of a little potty, a child seat that fits on the regular toilet seat, and the regular toilet with a stool since it’s tall. Let your child decide when he/she is ready to make the climb. The toilet our kids use is especially tall, so only 1 of the 4 who have trained so far felt comfortable using it right away. Naturally, it is my expert climber. 🙂
Once you’re done with potty training, celebrate and pass the diapers on to someone who still needs them! I’ve got 1 child left to put through the process, so I’m hoping it happens next summer as she’s turning 3. Fingers crossed!