How to potty train your toddler - tips for potty training

Are you gearing up to potty train your toddler but aren’t sure where to begin or if she’s actually ready?

I felt so overwhelmed at the thought of ditching the nappies for my daughter that I really botched potty training a few times. 

I think I rushed to start, and then I wasn’t consistent enough with it for her. We had a lot of mess on the carpet, and there was a lot of extra washing to stick in the machine every day!

As a result, we had a few false starts to potty training my girl, which didn’t do her or me any favours at all!

Now I’m thinking about potty training my two-year-old, who has shown a lot of interest in using the toilet like her big sister. However for now I’m holding back, because I don’t think she’s quite there yet (I’ll explain why later in this post). 

As I’ve been through a few false starts before finally succeeding in just a few days, I’ve got several key tips that will help you potty train your girl or boy fast.

Potty training your toddler might seem daunting but it really doesn’t have to be too stressful. 

Once you have decided you and your toddler are ready for potty training to begin, you can follow these easy steps technique to keep things stress-free! The first point is the absolutely most important one, and is the number one secret to successful and quick potty training!

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Be sure your toddler is ready for potty training

It’s easy to make the mistake of rushing in to potty training, because you want to ditch nappies immediately. I totally get that, nappies are expensive and take up space.

However rushing ahead to potty training is pointless. Your child won’t catch on quickly, and they could end up hating the potty, which is going to make this an uphill battle. 

They are ready if they tell you when their nappy is dirty, and they show an interest in using the potty. Have regular chats with them about using the toilet and you will get a sense for when they are up to the challenge. 

You can read all about signs your child is not ready for potty training in this post. 

Get the right kit

Planning ahead and arming yourself with the right tools will set you up for success. 

In order to potty train your toddler, you don’t actually need LOADS of stuff. Don’t panic, it’s not going to cost you a fortune! However there are certainly a few items that are absolutely essential.

You will need: 

Underwear – get your child to pick this out as it will help them get enthusiastic about ditching nappies. 

Try to choose pants that feature your child’s favourite cartoon character or type of animal. This will get them excited to wear them and engaged in the whole potty process.

A potty – of course this is the number one item you need to purchase! You can get potties that fit over the toilet seat. Your toddler will need a step to get up to the toilet if you do get one of these, as you want them to be able to use it themselves.

I suggest this is the best option, as it saves you having to clean out a potty every time your toddler uses it. It also gets your child used to the toilet, which is ultimately what they will be using everywhere else.

When choosing a potty, go for something fun that includes cartoon characters or colours that your child loves. Let them decorate it will stickers around the outside if they want to. Leave the potty around in the living room so that your toddler gets used to the sight of it.

A step for the toilet – You want your toddler to grow in independence as they ditch the nappy! Having a step for the toilet is a great investment, as they will get used to clambering up there on their own.

Pick something stable and lightweight. It can also be handy for helping them reach the sink when it comes to wash their hands. You may want to consider getting two potty steps, as well as two potties, one for upstairs and one for downstairs, depending on where the toilets are in your home.

A travel potty – this one is brilliant. It’s so handy to have and I’ve had to whip it out beside the road, at parks and in playgrounds. 

I now keep my travel potty in the boot of the car, as we don’t need it when we’re visiting somewhere (we’re rarely anywhere that doesn’t have a toilet). When I am really stuck, I will just hold my daughter under her armpits while she squats down and has a wee behind a tree. Always keep your feet out of the line of fire. You will stand like a total idiot, but no one wants wee all over their shoes, haha!

You may also want to buy some pull-ups for nighttime. Your toddler won’t be dry at night for another couple of years, so they will still need to wear some form of nappy at night. Using pull-ups is a good idea as they’re just like underwear in the way your child takes them off and puts them back on again. This helps them get used to being nappy-free!

Speak to your child

Tell them before you start potty training about what is going to happen. Show them the potty and talk them through what using it will involve. 

When you start training, remind your child to use the potty, but don’t do it every five minutes. They will just start to automatically say no (see below for how frequently to ask them to use the potty).

Have the potty close by and if your child wants to sit on it, make the experience fun. Chat to them while they are sitting on it. You don’t want them to associate using the potty with being bored. 

Make sure it’s the right time

Are you about to go on holiday? Is your toddler about to start at a new childcare provider? Are you leaving your toddler with their grandparents for a long weekend?

If there are any important things coming up in your diary, think about whether this is going to get in the way of your potty training.

If you are going on a long-haul flight, you probably want to avoid accidents on the plane.

You may also find that your toddler takes longer to take to potty training if there is a huge disruption to their normal routine.

It is worth noting however that you will often find your toddler has a developmental leap forward when they are on holiday. It may be their speech improves, or they learn a new physical skill. It’s amazing, but it happens!

If your child does suddenly seem desperate to get onto the toilet while you are away somewhere else, let them give it a try. If you don’t have pants, just pop their nappy on and off. You can start properly when you get home.

Put them on the potty regularly 

If you struggle to remember to remind your child they might need to use the loo, set a timer on your phone or use a kitchen timer.

In the first few days you want to be trying to get your child to use the potty every 30 to 45 minutes. I know this seems like a lot, but it won’t be like this every single day. 

In the early days of potty training you want to remind them to try going to the loo. 

Always remember to put them on the potty before going out of the house – I’ve made this mistake many times!

Put your child on the potty after meals

Many toddlers will be ready to do a bowel movement after lunch and/or dinner.

Pop them on the potty shortly after every meal to prevent accidents.

Encourage them to stick with it

Some kids will hop onto the potty and then say “finished” and jump straight off without doing anything.

You need to show them it takes a little more patience than that!

Try to make sitting on the potty fun for your toddler. The easiest way to do this is to get a pot of bubbles and blow them at your toddler as they sit on the toilet.

You could also try reading them a story while on the potty or singing a song. This will encourage them to stay on the potty until they are finished.

Make using the toilet fun

Help your child hone their toilet skills while making it fun too!

There are various ways to make using the toilet exciting. If you are potty training a boy you can get targets that you put into the toilet and it gives them something to aim at. This hopefully means fewer wet toilet seats!

You could also try a light attachment for the toilet. You can get them in various different colours and it may make it more fun for your child.

Some kids will respond well to singing, so you could make up a song about using the potty that you sing together every time they go.

Let your child watch you use the toilet

If you have a boy, let him watch his dad use the toilet. Kids copy what their parents do!

Let them see you use the toilet, wipe, flush and wash your hands. They will be way more receptive to doing it themselves this way!

Have a positive reward system

Giving your kid sweets every single time they squeeze out a wee on the potty is going to lead to them consuming a LOT of sweets. They will be on that potty all the time.

Instead I suggest a sticker chart if your child is really struggling and definitely be super excited and positive every single time they use the potty successfully. Make it a really big deal and praise your child a lot. 

Remain calm

If your child does have an accident, which they probably will, remain calm. Don’t tell your child off and simply mop and tidy up the mess. Don’t comment on the mess in a negative way, even if it is horrendous cleaning it up!

You don’t want your child to feel anxious about this nappy-free business! Being positive and calm in the face of accidents will show them it’s OK if they slip up while they are learning.

Don’t worry about your child being wet at night

Many children still wee in the night once they are potty trained.

Your child may not be dry at night until they are six or seven. This is totally fine!

Continue to use pull-ups at night and don’t worry. As long as they are getting it in the day, eventually their bladder control will cross over to night time as well.

If your child does want to use the toilet in the night, make their path to the potty an easy one. Have night lights to show them the way to the toilet and make it easy for them to either switch the light on in the bathroom, or have a light in there too.

I hope these steps give you all of the information you need for stress-free potty training. If you have any questions at all, please just drop me a message!

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