My son, now 5, was in underwear all day by 22 months and in underwear 24/7 around 25 months. My daughter turned 2 this summer and is in underwear all day and in a diaper at night. Both kids were going pee/poop at home without prompting about 4 weeks into training and telling me they had to pee/poop when out. I get asked often, “How do you do it?!” This is my method and the guidelines I follow. My method can be used at almost any age but I believe works best between 18 and 30 months.
Between 18-30 months kids understand what it is to go pee and go poop. They are also curious about toilets, little potties, and bathrooms. As the parent or caregiver it is up to you to show them what toilets, little potties, and bathrooms are and what they are used for. If you don’t show them and let them explore these things, they can get comfortable going pee and poop in their diaper since they know you will clean it up when they are done. Little ones need to know that everyone, even you, goes pee and poop on the toilet. You can do this by telling them when you are going to the bathroom, allowing them to join you in the bathroom, and openly talking about what goes on in the bathroom. Let them sit on the toilet when they want and let them flush it. Show them how to wash their hands and make it fun by purchasing a fun soap dispenser. When they do go pee or poop on the toilet make it a huge deal. Cheer for them, give them high fives, and wave bye-bye to whatever is in the potty as they flush it down. To encourage pooping on the toilet or potty we made up the poop song to help entertain our kids while they go poop. We use stickers and stamps as a reward; they are simple, cheap, easy to find, and kids love them.
There are many options when purchasing a little potty for kids, usually they are affordable but they can get pricey. I got mine as a hand me down then changed to a simpler potty from a second hand store. Buy a simple potty, nothing with bells and whistles. Fancy ones are a pain to take apart and clean. They can make it a disappointment for kids when they move to the bigger potty and they get nothing but a flush and they expect a chime or song. Bells and whistles can also distract the child and make them think it is a toy and not a potty. Place the potty in the main room of your home with wipes and extra underwear next to it. This allows your child access to the potty quickly which is crucial when starting out. As your child develops better bladder control they will start to use the toilet more and the potty less. Our potty is located in the TV room next to a recliner at all times.
Along with a potty for your child, invest in a toilet seat that has an adult and child seat attached. The child seat snaps into the lid of the seat allowing access to the adult seat when needed. It is a great space saver, it allows the lid to close normally, and easy to clean.
Make sure to dump and clean the potty after it has been used. This is good sanitation practice and your child will get curious and want to play in the toilet and potty. Make sure you set a rule about putting things in the toilet and potty. I have been fortunate that both of my kids have not explored the toilets but have played in potties. I also have two dogs that are curious about the potty and its contents.
I prefer using underwear rather than trainers/pull ups. It is cost effective and either way you are taking off pants and underwear to change them. I also think they realize that having an accident is getting wet on their bottom half not just wetness on their butt; a wet butt is something they are used to with a diaper on so nothing is different for them with a trainer. I also prefer underwear not panties. This usually is not a problem for boys but it is for girls. Panties are too thin and narrow to catch poop accidents.
When potty training there will be accidents at home and when out. Be prepared for accidents and do not get mad about them. Being prepared and staying calm during accidents lets your little one know that accidents happen and it is part of learning to use the potty. Being unprepared and/or getting upset sets you back steps while potty training. It can make the child fearful of going potty because they do not want you mad or do not want to be stuck in wet clothes. When at home be prepared by having extra underwear and pants close to the potty. Also do not be afraid to try naked time or underwear when at home. When you are out be prepared with a bag for soiled clothes, 2-3 extra pairs of pants, underwear, socks, and a diaper. Having a diaper is great for longer than expected car trips or outings not close to a toilet. A few times I have brought our potty with us places as part of being prepared.
The first 4-8 weeks require you to remind your child to sit on the potty. They will not always go pee or poop but when they do go pee or poop they put together the feeling of going pee or poop with sitting the potty. Sitting on the toilet may take 5 seconds or 5 minutes, it just depends on the child’s mood. Do not rush them, so give yourself a few extra minutes before you leave.
Start potty training at home then venture out. This usually takes 3-4 weeks of underwear at home before parent and child can be comfortable to venture out in underwear. Start with short outings and gradually build up the amount of time you are not close to a potty. We start with 20 minute trip and gradually increase them by 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure your child has used the potty within 10 minutes of your leave time and take them to the potty when you arrive at your destination.
Potty training with every child is different so adjust what you do for potty training to your child’s needs. Potty training also takes time and overnight potty training takes more time. Have patience with your child and yourself. Do no rush; give yourself extra time when heading out. Remind your child often to sit on the potty. Make yourself aware of restrooms when you go places. Be prepared. Cheer for your child when they go or when they try to go. YeY Potty!
-Co Blogger Katie