Everyone does it differently, there are a million methods out there, but these are just the tips and tricks that have worked for our five little ones over a decade of potty training!
Perhaps the hardest part of being a first time potty training mom is hearing about ALL the “Potty Train in 3 Day” books out there and all of your friends’ kids who potty trained at 18 months old, so obviously, YOU ARE BEHIND! Wait a second. Take a breath. Guess what? You’re likely NOT behind. And trust me, as a mom of five, when I tell you it is so, so, so much easier to potty-train when your kids are ready. Like, you might just have to clean up 100 less accidents if you just wait until they are ready.
Potties for Home
Toddler Potty Seats for the Floor
I know this seems excessive, but I think it is helpful for the house to be FULLY ready with potty accessories before you begin. I have two small potties sitting out on the floor in two different areas of the house that are most frequented by my little one. That way, if he has the urge to pee upstairs, he doesn’t have to journey all the way to the downstairs potty seat, but can just hit up the one closest to his play area. I also opt to put them on non-carpeted areas for easier clean up, or pop a pee pad under them if they are on the carpet. You could also just move the potty throughout the house to wherever the child is playing. Having potty seats on the floor has proven to be less intimidating than climbing on the big potties to start.
Potty Insert Seats for Toilets
I also find it very helpful to have potty inserts in each normal toilet in the house. You can either go with these super simple ones that pop in just about any toilet, or you can install these handy toilet seats that allow you to put down a normal, adult toilet seat, or a smaller kids toilet seat. Over the years, we have opted for this more permanent option out of sheer convenience. I also find it helpful to have one of these options at the house you visit most. For example, my kids are at my parents’ house multiple times a week, so they love having a familiar potty seat in other settings.
Next to each toilet in our home we have a stool for easy access to the potty and this faucet extender for easier hand washing for those short arms.
Potties for Travel
Doesn’t leaving the house sound daunting during potty training?! Same, mama, same.
In the very first outings during potty training, I put a pull up on them OVER their undies, that way they feel the sensation of wetting their undies and realize they are doing it…without the mess in the car and public places because the outer pull up caught it all.
Our same potty seat that sits on the floor of our house comes with us in the trunk everywhere we go. I pop these insert bags in to catch the potty for easy clean up.
For the start of potty training, I bring their potty form home in the car for two reasons:
#1 It is familiar to the kids. The association of potty at home is with this potty seat so it’s a no-brainer when they see it as an option in the car.
#2 Public toilets are scary to little ones. The size, the loud flushing noises, and the strange atmosphere can cause all sorts of regressions. Not to mention, I choose to avoid public restroom germs at all costs 😉
So, using the potty seat in the trunk before heading into public places and before heading back home is always part of our potty training on the road routine.
We have this waterproof insert in every carseat, even if the kids are potty-trained! It saves your carseats from spit ups, carsickness events, accidents, and spills.
Older Toddler Travel Potty
Once we have made it through that initial potty-training phase on the road, and they don’t seem to need their entire home potty on the road, we transition to this travel potty seat and bags because it is so easy to fold up and store! This fits in my diaper bag, in airport carry ons, and under the seat of the car so easily.
Toilet Seat Covers
I keep a stash of these toilet seat covers in my diaper bags for ALL my kids to use on public restrooms. They are larger than the toilet seat covers some public restrooms offer and I love that it allows them to use the potty without their hands collecting all the lovely germs public restrooms have to offer…great for the airplane bathrooms too!
Potty Training Undies
For both daytime and nighttime, I have found these extra padded undies to be helpful during potty-training because that tiny bit of extra padding goes a long way in sparing the amount of mess an accident creates.
Step 1: Clear the Calendar
I’m sure there are a million better methods out there, but this is what we’ve done and it has seemed to work. We choose one week where we know we aren’t going ANYWHERE. Being consistently home and in zero diapers is HUGE for the success of their potty training.
The first 1-3 days I let them be totally naked. I try to bring several toy options to a non-carpeted floor and supply them with lots of water and their favorite liquids, and have their little potty seat nearby.
There are SO many accidents the first day. We are lucky if we get ONE pee in the potty on the first day. The first day is mainly focused on them becoming aware of when pee is coming. When and accident happens on the floor we just say “Uh-oh!!” and point to the potty and say, “Pee goes in the potty!” The same, simple terms seem to be easy for them to catch on to.
On Day 2, we start to see some pee in the potty but still lots of accidents. When pee goes in the potty we sing and dance and cheer HUGE! For some reason, the cheerful attention has motivated our kids more than treats. Also, once you start using treats for potty rewards, it can be difficult to wean later without regression.
On Day 3, we usually see most pees in the potty.
Once we see 75-100% of pees in the potty while naked, we put on the undies. And then it almost feels like we are starting over. But, this time they seem to catch on more quickly. We choose undies and not pull ups because the undies make them feel the yucky sensation more than absorbent pull ups and diapers do. They typically wet their undies a lot that first day, and we say the same “Uh Oh!”. By the third day in undies, we usually see a pretty well potty trained kid!
Nighttime Potty Training
Nighttime potty-training has definitely come months to years after daytime potty-training for our crew. Head to this blog post for ALL of my nighttime potty-training hacks.
In our experience with five little ones, pooping in the potty can come weeks to months after peeing in the potty. Our little ones tend to take advantage of having a diaper or pull up on for nap time or nighttime and choose to take care of business then. And then, naturally, one day they choose to poop in the potty and we cheer really big!
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