How to potty train a toddler girl: a lot of patience 😉 (Snapped this candid with my film camera and I think it’s so sweet. ♥️ Chicka Chicka Boom Boom has been a favorite to read on the potty!)
Huzzah! This has only been my most requested post topic for two months now (sorry!) and I’m excited to finally hit publish. (Keep reading and you’ll see why it took so long to write. You know me, always wanting to be as thorough as possible!)
I feel like we are now on the “other side” of potty training–meaning, it worked (and fast!), and we’re now in a good rhythm, everyone is comfortable, it feels like second nature, we’re no longer nervous taking her in public, and we aren’t worrying about an accident randomly happening on the floor of a restaurant. (That never actually happened, but before I started this process, it’s what I kept envisioning. 😂)
I wanted to wait until we got to this point to write this potty training guide–which, honestly, I don’t know if “guide” is the right term, because this is basically a giant dump of everything I think anyone could possibly benefit from knowing.
(I will not be sharing many personal stories in detail to be respectful of June’s privacy, rather, just overarching learnings and things I think will be helpful for someone just embarking on this journey to know.)
Keep in mind, this knowledge is what I’ve gained from my experience with my little girl. I know potty training girls vs. potty training boys can be a bit different (different body parts you’re dealing with and easier/harder in different ways!) AND of course, girl OR boy, every toddler is different! However, I think pretty much everything in this post can apply to both girls and boys.
Before we begin, I want to make sure one thing is clear:
I don’t think there’s one best way to potty train, so don’t worry TOO much about it! I feel like I spent hours and hours researching all the different aspects and tips and ins and outs of potty training, and it was exhausting. (I also couldn’t find ONE piece of relatable content on the subject on the internet, hence why I wanted to make THIS post so comprehensive!)
More of the story: Listen to your gut! You know what works best for your family! It’s a new skill EVERYONE is going through together. Give yourself grace when trying to approach it for your own individual needs.
Alright, let’s jump in! Because this is a really lengthy post, I added a table of contents for you to jump to the section you want to know more about!
Potty training in review
Quick links to each section and potty training FAQ’s:
Before we jump into all your FAQ’s and what you need to know, here is the short answer to the one question I know you’re DYING to ask:
How bad is potty training, really?
Short answer: potty training was both 10x harder and 10x more rewarding than I would’ve ever imagined. Now that it’s done, it’s also made life way easier than I had envisioned! (I thought diapers were easy!)
No, it’s not a cakewalk (that would be an understatement in my experience), but yes, it’s worth it. I’m so glad we did it, I’m happy we did it when we did (she was 25 months on the dot) and hopefully with my tips, you can feel confident about it too! I would go as far as saying we had a really good time while doing it, too.
(For the long answer, keep reading!)
The bad: You’re going to be really, really tired
I think I was more tired (more on why below) after the first three days of potty training than I was after childbirth. (SORRY, not to scare you, to be fair, I had a very positive and quick birth experience 🤣). Truly, I felt like I’d been to war and back. I hadn’t felt like that since the newborn days. The reason for this is that you are just ON for DAYS straight, and it takes every. single. ounce. of patience that you didn’t think you’d ever have.
Neal was traveling for work (it was the only window we could do it and he already had work travel planned) so my mom flew out to help and I’m so grateful she was there! I don’t think I would’ve eaten for three days had she not been there, it was so all-consuming.
The good: The best bonding experience
Potty training was one of the most sweet and rewarding experiences I’ve had thus far as a parent.
It was a really amazing bonding experience that I got to be there with her and coach her through this huge life skill. I felt like our bond got closer and before my eyes she transformed from a baby into this completely capable little girl who put her mind to it and knows she can do hard things! 😭 Get your tissues ready.
The good: less tantrums, more autonomy
Another thing: I think it REALLY helped pull her out of the rough tantrum/establishing independence phase she was in. Potty training two year olds gives them a ton of autonomy that they have never experienced before!
Want more details? I’ve got a brain dump of everything I can think of that might be helpful to you below.
Pour another coffee or break out the wine. This is a long one, but I wanted to make sure you were armed with all the helpful stuff I could think of before you embark on your potty training journey.
The Frida 3-in-1 potty is what we used and I would recommend!
Potty training: What I’ve learned and tips for potty training success:
First thing’s first, the most popular question you all asked me in my DMs:
Signs of readiness: When is the best age to start toilet training?
I am not a potty training guru, and there are different schools of thought as it pertains to different methods, and I think each parent will come to the decision that is best for them! However, here’s what the method I personally chose said:
The most important factors in determining potty training readiness:
Your toddler girl or boy is between 22-30 months AND…
- Communication skills: can communicate their needs with you using either words, sounds, or sign language.
- Can follow specific 2-step directions. (Like, “please go pick up your shoes and bring them to mommy!”)
- Starting to be independent, opinionated, and wanting to do things themselves: (“NO! Green dress, not red dress!” or “NO! I do it!”)
- Other cues: showing interest in the bathroom/potty, telling you when they go or when they have to go, resisting diaper changes, freaking out over a dirty diaper, etc. These are the most commonly known but actually aren’t the most important.
Shouldn’t you wait until they ask to use the potty?
I think a lot of people wait for their kid to ask them to use the potty, and the book I used (more on that below) mentions that by the time they are finally old enough to ask ask, you may have missed the sweet spot–they’ve become more strong-willed, more rebellious, and the use of diapers is even more cemented into their brain as a safety net, making it harder to potty train. (Parents of girls will probably understand when I say I was VERY motivated to do this sooner rather than later as we already have a very strong-willed little girl!)
On the flip side, I’ve heard of many who have let their kid go at their own pace and easily/successfully potty trained after 3 years old. I say you know your kid best!
For what it’s worth, the American Academy of Pediatrics website states, “There is no right age to toilet train a child. Readiness to begin toilet training depends on the individual child. In general, starting before age 2 (24 months) is not recommended. The readiness skills and physical development your child needs occur between age 18 months and 2.5 years.” When in doubt, consult your child’s doctor and get their opinion on whether or not your toddler is ready!
I listened to this Dr. Becky podcast episode where she dispels the whole “child led” myth and what that really means, and why our kids need us to make that executive decision and decide “this weekend I’m going to teach you how to use the toilet!” when we know they can do it, rather than just letting them passively drive it when “they decide they’re ready.”
(She equates this to when our kids say, “I think I want to join a sports team” then you make the rest of the decisions to make it happen. (You research what league to join, the schedule, send some.
Perhaps the most important thing: YOU have to be ready!
Big step for your toddler, but for parents too. Make sure YOU have the time and mental capacity to commit. I would truly recommend four days at home with your undivided attention.
We did this in the middle of summer when schedules were so busy, so I had to take off work to spend the time. (I know, not everyone has that luxury, but if you can’t find a time, it might involve cancelling plans, getting creative with splitting your time between parents, etc.)
Also, you need to be in the right mental space. Everything else needs to be put on the back burner so this can be your focus. It will take more patience than you ever thought possible, so plan accordingly! 😬 Also, make sure you aren’t trying to do this alone! It’s too much for one person to handle! (In my opinion.)
When should you NOT potty train and table potty training for another time?
Right or after a new baby arrives (becoming an older sibling is a BIG change), a big move to a new house, or any major change in your child’s life. Give yourself some grace–there is no perfect potty training schedule. This timing needs to fit YOU just as much as it fits them, too.
Which should you do first: move them to a big girl bed or potty train?
This of course depends on you and your kid’s personality! I say potty train first. I have no plans to move June out of her crib until she’s at least three. They wear diapers/pull ups at night anyway, they don’t need access to the bathroom at night until they’re fully night trained which normally doesn’t happen for a while!
Potty training methods: The three-day potty training method that worked for us and why:
We did the “no pants/3-day method” as it’s commonly referred to.
I will warn you that while the headline is tempting, please know your child will not be fully potty trained in three days. 😂 It just means that after three days, you’ve got the super solid foundation laid and can expect them to be more or less “potty trained” with the realistic expectation that there will still be some accidents here and there, they’ll still need a lot of your help, etc. I will say, I was FLOORED at how quickly this foundation was cemented (really, THAT part DOES take three days–and in some cases, even less than that.)
I do think anecdotally, just from what I’ve heard from friends, that girls tend to pick up on this potty training process faster than boys do, but again, every kid is different–and that’s totally OK! It’s not a race!
Why the three day potty training method?
It’s what my friends did and it worked well for all of them
(And many of you in my dm’s too! Only one person said it didn’t work for her, so those are pretty great odds to me!)
I wanted to do it once, do it right, and get into a rhythm as quickly as possible for everyone’s sake.
We had a trip coming up (three weeks out from starting potty training). As a family who frequently travels and is often out and about, there really just isn’t another method that would’ve worked for us!
This really just comes down to personality and lifestyle, but this is pretty much the same approach I took with getting June on a sleeping/eating schedule when she was a newborn. (I needed her sleeping through the night as quickly as possible because I cannot function without sleep!!) More on that over here.
My motto is, if I am not an expert in something, I always consult the professionals, find the advice that resonates most with my lifestyle and goals, and do exactly as their expert advice says. I know I am not an expert, therefore I am not winging this. 😂
I liked that this method didn’t use a sticker chart/star charts/ reward chart, M&M’s, etc.
It’s a personal preference (and ZERO judgement if you parent differently!) but I don’t love the idea of leading with rewards as my first line of defense, anyway. (If nothing else works–no shame–I’m not above it! Some kids are only motivated by those M&M’s, man, and that’s okay too!)
For what it’s worth, I don’t think there would be a better reward for June than learning something new and feeling like an independent “big girl” when she did something she put her mind to–that was the ultimate reward, so stickers and candy weren’t needed.
Why no reward chart?
There are a few schools of thought on this (and this is just based on the parenting style that resonates most with me!) I don’t want to get in the habit of rewarding her for things that are just expected of her, and that I’m not going to continue rewarding. This can sometimes backfire and only teach her to think, “what’s in it for me?” and create a sense of entitlement when she’s expected to do something and solely be motivated to do it because of the reward.
I also think it puts the emphasis on the wrong thing: getting a sticker or getting a piece of candy instead of doing the actual thing (peeing in the potty like bigger kids and grown-ups do) and feeling the sense of accomplishment of learning something hard and new, becoming more independent. That is the reward, in my opinion.
Also, as a parent, having to keep track of and hand out rewards just sounds really exhausting. 😂
Second, the shininess of particular small reward can get old. First they’ll do something for one M&M, then that’s not that exciting so you have to give them more, or something bigger, etc.
All that being said, again, I know reward charts, M&M’s, etc HAVE worked great for some kids! Only you know your kid and what will likely work best for them! Just candidly sharing my two-cents here. I think whatever method you think is best for you is the method that is best for you!
Supplies you need for potty training:
- Potty training books for your toddler to read (I love the above ones!)
- Optional: more favorite books to read/things to entertain them while on the potty
- Toddler potty chair and seat for home (nice to give them the option of both)
- Toddler potty seat for travel
- Step stool for the big toilet
- Wipes (can also use toilet paper, but nice to have. Flushable wipes are great too.)
- Stock up on shorts and pants with elastic waistbands. You want to create easy access and independence–so pants they can push down themselves are key. Also, looser is better. You want to avoid anything that feels like a diaper
- Liquids your toddler likes to drink
- Diapers or training pants for naps/nighttime
- Undies! (Optional, you won’t use them for a few weeks, but can be a good motivator!)
The “no pants: process: Potty training in three days–a crash course:
First thing to do when your child starts showing readiness signs:
There isn’t a perfect “right time” but there are ways to prep her leading up to the big day. Reading books on using the potty is a great way to prepare them! Even better, head to the local library and check them out together.
It’s also a good idea to let them in the bathroom with you while you go, voicing “it feels like I have to go potty, I’m going to go into the bathroom and sit on the toilet seat…” etc.
Planning ahead to incorporate some of this before “the big day” can be a great help. (TBH we did a little of this, but not much, so don’t feel like you need to put off your plans if you missed this step. You’ll be fine!)
Day 1 of the three day method:
When the big day arrives, you let them know that today you’re saying bye bye to diapers and you’re going to teach them to pee and poop on the potty!
They run around naked all day (or at least with no pants, but the less clothes the better), and yes–they will pee (and even poop) on the floor–you can’t lose your chill over this or reprimand them for it–just prepare however you need to! Roll up your rugs, put up baby gates to keep them confined to a specific area of hardwood floor, etc.
You will prompt them at regular intervals (every half hour or so) about the potty and offering positive encouragement.
Basically, you don’t take your eyes off them–all day–because you must catch them in the act and move them to the potty with the goal of getting pee or a bowel movement in the potty. Then you offer praise–hooray! You got the pee in the potty!!”
Many kids don’t verbally tell you they have to go, so you’ll have to start noticing signs (do they cross their legs? do a potty dance? run to the corner? etc.)
You also give them a lot of liquids on this day because it’ll give them more opportunities to practice.
I cannot begin to tell you how exhausting this is.
But truly, no phone, no washing dishes, no cooking, nothing.
This is why I highly recommend NOT doing this alone. Your eyes are on them 24/7. If you aren’t on them like white on rice, it’s just impossible to catch them, and you have to catch them while they’re going, because that’s the teachable moment.
Again, when they start to go, you basically (non frantically, as calmly as possible) pick them up and put them on the potty, with the goal of getting SOMETHING in the potty. That’s the goal. And then offer praise–say something like, “you did it! You got the pee in the potty! Are you proud of yourself? Hooray!”
You give them gentle reminders every half hour or so, but you don’t PHYSICALLY force them to sit on the potty ever–you will help them if they’re signaling to you, but never force.
That can create a power struggle, which you want to avoid at all costs. I would give some positive reinforcement, nudging– “remember when you start to feel like you have to go potty or poo, let mommy know! I’ll help you to the potty!” or “Remember the potty is right here when you need to go! Make sure you’re listening to your body!”
Over and over and over every half hour. Once you get into a rhythm you’ll more or less get a feel of how often they’re going as well, so you can start to set a timer to remind you to watch extra closely/give them your prompt, whatever that is.
Day 2 of the three-day method:
As long as they are more are less getting their pee in the potty regularly at the end of the day (with or without your prompting), you move to phase 2 the next day, which is the same exact thing as phase 1, but with loose-fitting shorts or pants on. (No underwear/no diaper under!)
Loose fitting/commando thing is really important, because anything too tight feels like a diaper and will subconsciously trigger them to go in it. I questioned this theory and put her in tighter shorts and sure enough–bam–full pee.
I immediately bought multiples of these shorts (totally would work for girls or boys) and have been putting her in them ever since. They’ve got a wider leg than a bike short so they’re more airy and the size 2’s are big on her, so they’re roomy.
Day 3 of the three day method and after:
Getting out of the house while potty training:
Same as day 2, but when they’re consistently going and in a rhythm, you start to take them out of the house on short outings, and gradually go from there.
You bring the potty chair/seat with you everywhere you go, even on the shortest outings. I have this travel potty (the seat comes off, so it can sit right on the toilet, too, which is great if you’re at a restaurant, but the free-standing potty is great if you’re somewhere without a bathroom, to keep in your car or bring to the park.
Yes, if they have to go at the park, just find a place to pop up the potty, and go! Have them go in the trunk of the car (our friends affectionately call this the “trunk potty”), pull over (to a safe place) on the side of the road and pop that bad boy up. Use it wherever, it’s the beauty of a portable potty!
(Tip: this is why I wanted to make sure to have a travel potty with liners for easy clean-up–basically doggy poo bags but for a potty. I am not hauling a dirty potty around with me.)
For outings where I know there will be a bathroom, I love the foldable One Proud Toddler seat! It’s so slim and small it even fits in my Claire V. Grande Fanny!
Remember, you don’t actually put underwear on them until at least week three–so they go commando for a long time!
Going back to daycare:
I sent June back to daycare for a half day on day 4 (I took her in the afternoon so we could have another half day of “practice” at home. If you can’t do this, don’t worry about it.) Then back to full days on Day 5.
Each daycare is different, but ours was happy to follow our lead. They have potties at school and I bought a potty seat for her to use and keep there. (Yours may have potty seats or little potties, worth asking ahead of time.)
They were fine keeping her commando for as long as we needed, and I just gave them a rundown of what we were doing at home so they could keep consistent. They still diaper her for naps. We didn’t have any problems!
If your daycare requires Pull-Ups be worn at all times, don’t worry. (Both the resources I used cover this in detail, by the way) but the short answer is: just tell them they’re “just in case” big kid undies and that they still need to tell the teacher when to use the potty, and keep them commando at home.
Above: The Frida potty as a topper and Amazon step-stool
Best resources for the 3 day method: the potty training book + course I used
I used two resources and would recommend both for different reasons, but I don’t think you NEED both, but I actually liked having the two.
Another resource to consider: I forgot Dr. Becky has a whole workshop and handbook within her membership site (I know she also uses this three day method) so check that out too if you’re a fellow Dr. Becky fan. (I love her!)
“Oh Crap” book:
This is my #1 recco for those who prefer reading vs watchings, but there are caveats.
It’s very skimmable, to the point, really hits home on the things you have to do, gives lots of troubleshooting advice, etc.
I will also give you a warning that her tone is…very condescending. But it kept it very entertaining. 😂
Just ignore her tone and take the information. The information is gold. This woman has potty trained thousands of children and I trust everything she says. (And I did everything she said, and it worked.)
You know that one super smart college professor you were always terrified of–they often called people out in class, they were an asshole, but you knew they were a genius and always hung on their every word? That is who wrote this book. I’m just preparing you.
The only place this book is lacking (aside from, you know, a warm, affectionate tone) is a realistic script of what to say to your kid. I’m pretty sure the book says something like, “come. It’s time to sit on the potty.” 😆 Not at all my style and that doesn’t feel very respectful to me.
That brings me to…
Big Little Feelings potty training course:
You can think of this as essentially the EXACT same method as the book outlines, but with the loving, supportive scripts that you’ve come to associate with Respectful Parenting and Big Little Feelings. (The only area I felt the book was lacking. The whole “COME PEASANT, ITS TIME TO POTTY tone just really rubbed me the wrong way).
They also have helpful lists of supplies, other resources, etc. They have a whole section on handling daycare, supplies, troubleshooting, etc. Everything you need to know.
Is the Big Little Feelings Potty training course worth it?
This course is only $34 so to me, yes, it was still worth the spend, but I used the book more as I prefer reading to watching.
If you prefer watching videos to reading, you may prefer this and not want the book at all. Totally up to you.
Best toddler potty? Do you need a child-size potty chair or can you just use the regular toilet?
I was not into the idea of a potty chair, but the book says it’s much easier to start with and then move to the toilet after that.
After a lot of research, I purchased the Freda Baby potty chair for a couple of reasons: I liked that it converted to a seat you pop onto the big potty, and I like that it has removable, tossable liners if the idea of “dumping” and wiping out a potty chair TOTALLY grosses you out. (🙋🏻♀️) I will say that the “step stool” part is pretty useless as it’s too short to be of use. (I don’t have a “high” toilet, and June is pretty tall for her age and it’s still too short for her to get up on the regular size toilet.)
Turns out, June actually hated the little potty and demanded to go directly to the big potty, so I quickly popped the seat off and put it on our toilet in our powder room off the kitchen, and that’s what she’s used ever since. She’s never once gone on a little potty at home! 😂 (We were really worried about her using the little travel potty on the go on our trip post potty training based on this, but she was fine!)
Bypassing the “little potty” and just using the regular toilet was actually very easy for us because our condo is so small and the living room is where we spend all our time anyway, and it’s only like 5 feet away from the bathroom, but I can see how it would be really tricky if you lived in a big house and sprinting a peeing child to the bathroom down the hall just wouldn’t be feasible.
Doing it all over again, I would still buy a little potty, have a potty topper and step stool option, and give them the choice and see what they choose. (We also bought this foldable step ladder potty seat thing but she likes it the least out of everything.)
After a few weeks, she decided she mostly likes to sit on the big potty without the potty seat. (Like a “big girl”). This makes our lives even easier because we aren’t constantly moving a potty topper on and off the toilet.
(I also have readers that swear by these toilet seats with toddler inserts, by the way!)
How often should a child pee while potty training?
The first couple days of potty training you’ll want to up the amount of liquids you’re giving your child so they pee more often and get a lot of opportunities to practice! You’ll want to prompt them every half-hour or so, but how often they pee isn’t your job! The more important thing is to take note of their own individual cadence. (Every kid is different, some go way more often than others, some can hold it forever!) You’ll want to take note of this so you can get a feel of how often you should be watching/prompting moving forward!
Best travel potty for toddlers & handling public bathrooms?
Of course, you also need a potty seat for when you’re out and about! I prefer a travel potty for on the go specifically (vs. just taking the regular potty in the car, etc) because it’s more portable and easier for on-the-go potty use.
Some can even fold and fit in the bottom of your stroller, and there are even potty seats that fold so small they can fit in a purse! This can make going in public easier (and bonus: they don’t have to touch a public toilet).
A note on public toilets while potty training: the super loud flushing can be REALLY scarring for some kids (I have memories of being terrified of the public toilet flushing as a child and it took me SO long to be able to use a toilet in any public setting because of this!) Readers recommended to bring some post-it’s with you to cover any automatic sensors to avoid the toilet flushing while your toddler is sitting on it!
Then, prepare them and say, “this toilet is going to be really loud–maybe even say–JUST like a GARBAGE TRUCK!–or something similar if you think they’ll be into that. Ask if they want to step outside and wait for you to flush or if they want to cover their ears, if they want to flush themselves, etc.
Luckily, June doesn’t seem to be phased by the loud flush like I was. She thinks it’s kind of entertaining, but just something to be aware of, because you don’t want your kid to be like me. I don’t think that was fun for my mom to deal with. 😂
What about naps and nighttime potty training?
Another topic discussed in the book that I thought was for the birds: *optional* night training. Which would involve waking your kid up at least once or twice a night to make them use the toilet.
Am I a masochist? No. I am not.
She says if you don’t want to go that route, put them in a diaper or pull-up for naps and nighttime and eventually they’ll start waking up dry, and at that point, you can move to undies during sleep time. You’ll just tell them, “you’re still learning, so we’re going to put your diaper on only for sleeping. We’ll take it off as soon as you wake up!”
A quick note: Pull ups or diapers for sleep?
The book says don’t waste your time or money with pull-ups. They feel the same as diapers, so why bother? The Big Little Feelings potty training course says use Pull-Ups (“big-kid underwear!”) because they’re a little different and might be a motivator for some kids.
I think do whatever you’d like here! Despite the advice, I was worried that putting diapers back on for sleep would derail her after the first morning, but shockingly, she immediately understood that they’re just for sleeping now and we remove them as soon as she wakes up! Never had any issues with that. (PHEW!)
Does it really only take three days?
The three days refers to the time it takes to lay the foundation, not the time it takes to complete potty training.
After three days, they’re still learning a lot! (This is why Dr. Becky says “potty learning” instead of “potty training.”)
There will still be accidents and you will absolutely still encounter some hiccups. That’s okay! Expect it! It’s normal, it’s healthy. The foundation is laid after three days, and it’s a strong one. I was absolutely shocked at how fast she picked it up!
The travel potty in Yosemite. (It folds flat, so it fit in the hiking pack, and even has a compartment to store the liner bags in case you need to use for a #2!)
How long after potty training should I wait to travel?
We waited three weeks to travel with June across the country on a 10 day trip. (Go big or go home, right? 😬) I would not recommend traveling any sooner than that, if you can help it, and ideally maybe could’ve used another week to prep, but honestly, she did GREAT.
I actually think it was really helpful and got her WAY more comfortable using the potty in different environments, places, and going outside.
Another reason for the timing I chose is that we also have our big Australia trip coming up in December (6 months away from potty training start date) and that was really the biggest motivator.
I wanted her to be fully potty trained and comfortable using any and all bathrooms–essentially, a well oiled machine so to speak–for our Australia trip. (I was imagining horror stories of being on a 16 hour flight with a newly potty trained toddler who was throwing a fit over using the airplane toilet while everyone else was sleeping.)
Since then, we’ve traveled multiple times in the plan and car. For longer car rides and airplanes longer than an hour, we still put a diaper on her (or pull-up/disposable training pants if your child prefers that). We just tell her it’s only for just in case she falls asleep because her body is still learning about using the potty when she’s sleeping.
Our 10 day trip 3 weeks post-potty training was really helpful in getting her comfortable going in new environments!
Biggest personal takeaways:
Do not do this alone
Call in multiple family members if you need to. Seriously. I have no earthly idea how I would’ve managed to do this by myself if I had tried. The only time we could do it was during the week (due to weekend plans) and Neal was gone for a business trip, so at the last minute, my mom came out to help me and I am SO glad she was here.
If she hadn’t been here I’m not sure I would’ve been able to feed myself, pee, shower, or do anything between the hours of 7am-8pm for 3 straight days. 😂
This will take literally every ounce of patience, empathy, and energy you have. Truly. After it was all over, I was so tired I sobbed like I had in the postpartum newborn days. And potty training went GREAT. Even then, it was still so much.
That being said, while it’s all consuming, it’s so worth it. You make SO MUCH PROGRESS in a few days. Truly.
Plan ahead: be a prepper!
Meal prep or plan to order takeout. Have snacks ready to grab that don’t require prep. Maybe make a batch of soup for easy lunches. It definitely won’t hurt to tell your girlfriends you’re about to start potty training and ask if they can be on speed-dial if you need some girlfriend time after your toddler goes to bed! Also, make sure to schedule some down time for yourself after the crash-course is over. It will be well-deserved!
Get on the same page with your co-captain
I think it’s helpful to figure out what the dynamic is going to be with whoever is potty training with you. With two parents, it’s important that they both are familiar with the method you’ll be using and what expectations are, what to do, what not to do, and be in synch. The last thing you want is to get in a fight in front of your toddler mid potty training because someone isn’t doing something the right way.
Keep your chill
Keep your chill: Number one, most important thing: Do NOT lose your chill. You and your kiddo are a team. You’re in this together. Your job is to provide encouragement, simple instructions, and support. Don’t boss them around, don’t hover. Let them be as independent as they want. Don’t force them. You’re on the same side and working together to learn these necessary skills for the first time! It’s an adventure!
How soon to switch to big-kid underwear? Don’t rush it!
As a rule of thumb, training pants like pull-ups and diapers are for sleeping ONLY, and the book said to wait at least three weeks (keep them commando with no undies under pants) before you try underwear, as the feeling of the undies can feel like a diaper and can cause more accidents. We definitely rushed the undies and found they were problematic, so we tabled those and waited another few weeks before trying them again!
Undies can be a huge positive reinforcement for some kids (especially if they have their favorite characters on them, that’s a pro tip!) but for others, they can cause more issues when introduced too early. Just a tip to keep in mind!
Approaching travel after and during potty training
Just do it. This is my advice for pretty much everything. Allow yourself three weeks before your trip, be prepared, expect accidents and even a temporary regression. (To this, you can respond neutrally. “Potty goes in the toilet, not on the floor. Next time, remember to listen to your body and tell mommy when you need to go.” Definitely pack more changes of clothes than you think you need.
Plan to do diapers/pull ups during plane and car rides. Otherwise, keep everything else the same. Make sure you have a potty chair in the car and a potty seat topper in your bag if you’re in an airport, but also, they might surprise you and not even care about having a potty seat!
We found that traveling actually helped during the potty training process and was amazing in getting her comfortable going in new and different environments! Now there are zero qualms about using the bathroom anywhere (or even squatting outside!)
The Children’s Place Baby Girls’ and Toddler Cartwheel Shorts (I LOVED these for the first few weeks of potty training!)
Handling a potty training regression
Regressing a little is normal, especially after you’ve returned from a trip, they’ve gone through a big change, etc. Go back to the basics from days 1 and 2 if you need to, have a day where they run around naked. Go back to being commando with loose-fitting bottoms. Keep celebrating their wins, don’t punish them for accidents–stay the course.
Expect some clinginess
One thing I didn’t expect (and loved, because she is rarely ever snuggly) is increased clinginess during potty training. It’s such a big period of rapid growth that it takes a lot out of them. Don’t be surprised if they want to be held or snuggled. Be prepared to give them extra love, encouragement, and cuddles! (This was one of my favorite parts of potty training. ♥️)
Be present and enjoy the ride
I mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. While potty training is exhausting, it has truly been one of my most favorite experiences as a parent and one of the most special bonding moments of parenthood. Just like everything in parenting–go in with zero expectations, know it’s going to be kind of a shit storm (literally) but be confident that you and your child will roll with the punches and figure it out.
Good luck on this new adventure! You’re going to do great!
Still have questions? Feel free to DM me on Instagram and ask away!