Potty training your child doesn’t have to be hard. Here’s a method that works, fast.
There comes a time in every mama’s life when she feels it’s time to potty train her precious little peanut who’s not so little anymore. But how do we do it? Let’s talk about how to potty train your child fast.
There are two ways to potty train
Potty training can be gradual, or it can be “cold turkey”. We’ve done both. I’ll share what didn’t work in my experience, and then I’ll share what worked. I’ve potty trained our boys and our girl using the easy system below. I’ll be using “he” when I refer to the potty-trained toddler, but it works for both genders.
What did not work
When our twins were just under two, we decided to potty train them. Since I was a stay-at-home mom, most of the decision-making and the work fell on me. They were my first, and I had no idea how to potty train my children.
I started by letting the boys go diaper-less at home. During nap time, at bedtime, and when we went anywhere, the diapers went back on. The boys made slow progress, but after a few weeks of this type of training, I noticed that they both started regressing and had more and more potty accidents.
I kept plugging through. After several more weeks of “hit or miss” toilet training, I realized that this method was neither easy nor was it working. My husband and I decided that it was time to regroup, and the diapers came back on full-time.
I thought the boys weren’t ready. But it wasn’t just them. I wasn’t ready either. I wasn’t prepared, and I didn’t have a plan.
The one thing that made potty training fast
After a few months, we decided to try the potty training process again.
So what was different this time around? The one thing that made a huge difference and made for fast potty training was saying goodbye to diapers for good.
I decided to take the diapers off full-time, even at night. Before you stop reading and move on to another potty training article, let me state my case.
Retraining of your toddler’s brain
Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated or as callous as it sounds.
Potty training is the process of retraining your child to be able to “go” when there’s nothing touching his bottom. Think about it. Going potty in a diaper is all he knows, and now you’re telling him that he needs to go pee and poop somewhere else.
He may understand that’s what you want him to do, and he may even agree that he is a big boy and he’ll have to go on the potty now. But it takes consistency for his brain to get the message. He’s not used to holding his urges back. He’s not used to running to the potty when something’s coming out.
I hear you when you say, “But they do pee on the floor if they go naked. They don’t have to have the diaper on to “go” when they’re not potty trained.” They do pee if the urge is there, even if the diaper is not. This is another thing our toddlers need to learn – to hold the urge until they get to the potty.
So as we help our little boys and girls to learn to use the potty, we need to understand that if we put the diaper back on periodically, it’s a signal to the brain that it’s safe to go in it.
When I thought about potty training my children that way, I decided to take the diapers off for good. Here is my plan for easy potty training that works fast.
When to start potty training your child
You will know when it’s the right time to potty train your child.
My decision was dictated by the endless poopie diapers. Having three kids in diapers at the same time makes it seem like you’re changing one dirty diaper after another and washing bottoms all day long with no end in sight. It was fine at first, but once I felt that I’ve had enough, I was ready to begin potty training.
One of the first signs of readiness to potty train is when your toddler begins to wake from his naps with a dry diaper. It seems that a sweet spot age for a lot of parents is 2.5 years, but don’t just use your child’s age as an indication of readiness.
When you feel that both you and your toddler are ready to begin, it’s go time.
Potty training can get frustrating for mom, especially when you have to clean up accident after accident. When you know exactly what you’re doing, prepare, and follow the plan, you’ll minimize the accidents and see results faster. Commit to the process and keep going, even when it gets tough.
Pick an uneventful week when neither your child, you, or any of the household members are sick or under the weather. Make sure you have no appointments or prior commitments during that week. I found it more comfortable to potty train during the warmer months.
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Prepare for success
Before you begin, start talking to your toddler about potty training. Get him excited about the process. Go to the store with him and have him pick out big-kid underwear with his favorite characters. Get a potty for him as well.
You may choose to use a potty chair, a toilet seat insert with a step stool, or a combination of both. Some moms love the toilet insert because they don’t have to wash the potty afterward. Other moms love the potty chair because it’s convenient and can go anywhere the toddler goes.
We used a potty chair, and within a short period of time, our kids were able to use the big toilet without the potty training seat insert. Choose what you think will work best for your family.
Begin potty training your child
On the first day of potty training, after your toddler wakes up, remind him that it’s a big day and that he will be learning to go potty like a big boy. Take the diaper off and put him on the potty right away. Encourage him to go. After 5-10 minutes get him up, but don’t be surprised if there’s nothing in the potty.
A little trick to help your child go is to turn on the sink faucet and to give him a cup of water while he’s sitting on the potty.
Put his new big kid underwear on and make a big deal out of it. Keep in mind, on the first day of potty training, there will most likely be quite a lot of accidents. Be ready and don’t be upset. This whole process is very new to your little babe, be patient with him.
While potty training, one of my friends let her kids run around the house wearing just a t-shirt. She says it seemed that being naked helped them hold their urges better. We used undies, but if you want to try the naked route, go for it.
For the first few days, take frequent potty breaks. Put your toddler on the potty every 30 minutes or so. Stay with him, read to him, and encourage him to go. If you notice even a little something in the potty, make a big deal out of it, give him lots of praise, and celebrate!
I danced, clapped my hands, and sang a song I made up on the go about my child going potty. Each one of my children loved that part. They loved seeing mama so excited, they were ecstatic.
You may also choose to use positive reinforcement for your child’s hard work after he goes. My kids put stickers on a blank sheet of fun colored paper after each successful potty break. They loved picking out what sticker to use and loved sticking it on. Seeing stickers on paper will also give you a visual of the progress, which can be motivating for mama.
But the best reward for all of my children was my singing. I made up songs with them as the hero. They always giggled as I sang and danced, and clapped their little hands in excitement.
How to handle nap times while potty training
Before putting your child down for a nap, put him on the potty. Remember, the plan is to take the diaper off for good, so don’t put the diaper on him out of habit. We’re working to make sure our potty training works fast.
It helps if there is a waterproof mattress cover on your toddler’s bed under the bedsheet. Put him on the potty right after he wakes from his nap.
Potty training and bedtime
Nighttime potty training takes a little more preparation. When we potty train, I prepare my toddler’s bed for the night by putting a waterproof pad on top of the bedsheet, and another bedsheet on top of the pad. Before I had the waterproof pad I used a large bath towel folded in half, which worked well.
This makes for easy clean-up when mid-night accidents happen. All you have to do is take the top sheet and the towel or pad off, change your toddler’s bottoms, and you’re good to go. If you do wake up to clean up an accident, don’t forget to put him on the potty.
This brings me to another very important point. When toddlers first begin potty training, it’s very unlikely that they will stay dry throughout the night. This is why I go into my toddler’s room about three hours after they go to bed, and put them on the potty half-asleep. This minimizes bedwetting at night.
If you go to sleep at the same time your toddler does, set an alarm. Of course, you don’t have to do it to be successful, but it will make for less clean-up and will help your child to learn to wake up at night if he feels the urge to go, which makes for faster potty training.
Another bedtime tip is to put a potty chair in your toddler’s room and show him where it is. If he wakes up in the middle of the night, he won’t have to go across the hall to use the potty. It’ll be right there waiting for him.
I wasn’t brave enough to do it with my boys, I was afraid that they’d play with “the contents” when they woke in the morning. (Boy mom problems). But my little girl did have the potty in her room and used it when she needed to go at night.
Most likely, it will take your toddler longer than a week to be completely potty trained at night. Be ready for it.
In the car
It’s very tempting to put the diaper on before you have to drive somewhere. The last thing you want in addition to cleaning up the messes at home is having to wash the car seat, too.
I get it. But remember, you are retraining your child’s brain to get the message that he no longer pees or poops in his pants. Put that portable potty on, and you’ll slow down or even reverse the progress you’ve made.
Sit your toddler on the potty right before you hit the road. You can also line the car seat with a waterproof liner, just in case. While we potty trained, the potty chair came with us everywhere we went. Keep it in the car for fast and easy access when you need it.
Accidents are a part of the process. The important thing is to not be upset with your child. If he sees you being upset, he will associate potty training with stress, and it will take him longer to potty train successfully.
If you see that your toddler wet himself, calmly explain to him again where we go potty, and put him on it. Yes, even if he just emptied his bladder onto the floor, still put him on the potty while it’s fresh in his memory. He needs to learn to associate peeing with the potty. This in turn will help him learn proper bladder control.
It takes longer for most toddlers to get used to going number two on the potty. Be patient with him. Look for signs. Before they go poop, toddlers that aren’t potty trained seem to prefer hiding right before they go. If you see your toddler crawling under the table and crouching, get him on the potty right away.
You can also pay attention to his rhythm. If you know that your child usually has bowel movements around a certain time of day, let him sit on the potty longer in that time frame.
I’m not ashamed to confess to the fact that my little girl wore her brothers’ old underwear while potty training. Those undies served four boys, and it was time to let them go. But before I did, I put them to work. If she went number 2 in her brother’s old underwear, the undies went straight to the trash. Less poop to wash off was a win for this mama.
If your toddler is motivated by rewards, you can have a special prize ready for him when he goes number two.
Potty training tips
If your toddler still takes a sippy cup of milk or water at night, wean him off before you begin potty training. Limiting liquids at night and before bedtime will limit accidents, too.
When you first begin training, don’t ask your toddler if he needs to go. You’ll hear “no” even if he does. Instead, say, “Time to go potty”, or simply, “Potty time”, and take him to the potty. After he starts getting the message, he’ll begin telling you that he needs to go.
If your toddler is busy at play and refuses to be taken to the potty, try to divert his attention as you walk with him to the potty seat. “Do you remember the puppy we saw outside today? Wasn’t he cute? Do you want to see if he’s still out there? Ok, let’s go potty, and then we’ll go outside and check.” Toddlers usually easily give in to a diversion.
Are disposable training pants the same as diapers? Yes! When I say take the diaper off full-time, I mean the pull-ups, too. They serve the same purpose and will give the same signals to your toddler.
What to expect
They say that potty training boys is harder than potty training girls. But I disagree. All of my kids had similar success with this fast method.
When we used the process outlined above, our boys and girl made significant progress by day three. This is why some call this process the three-day potty training method. In a week, there were minimal accidents. But they were not fully poop-trained until a few weeks down the road.
Results with your child may be different. He may get it sooner, or it may take him longer. What’s important is not to give in, and to keep going. Your toddler will get it eventually.
If you feel like it’s taking an unreasonable amount of time to potty train when you do it “cold turkey”, it may be time to talk to your child’s pediatrician. Listen to your mama heart.
Use a potty training sticker chart, it will not only motivate your child, it will also give you a visual of the progress, and that will motivate you, too!
Stick to the plan, stay consistent, and you’ll get great results with this process of easy potty training that works fast. You’ve got it, mama!