Potty Training Tips

Potty training tips


If you’re afraid your child will still be in diapers by the time he or she gets married, you’ll take comfort in these suggestions from BabyCenter parents. They’ve found creative and original ways to make potty training easier – and more fun.

Try a tune

“We used the Once Upon a Potty video for our daughter. We sang the tune from the video all the time, especially when she went to the potty. She loved it.”
— Dianne

Sing their praises

“We made up a little song that we sang every time our daughter sat on the potty. She loved it. When she finished, we would sing a different song identifying what she had done and telling her how proud we were of her. We also included several rounds of applause. It wasn’t too long before she used the potty every time!”
— Christie

Read together

“Lucy and I went to the bookstore and she picked out five books she really liked. We called these the potty books, and she could read them only when she sat on the potty.”
— Amy

Use a special potty

“My second child caught on in two weeks. Her potty had a square in the bowl, which turned into a star every time fluid hit it. That was her big challenge, to make a star, and it became a game for her.”
— Angela

“We found a wonderful training aid called Tinkletoonz. It plays happy music when hit with number one or number two. We had a lot of difficulty for several months, but this method worked like a dream. It is available at www.tinkletoonz.com.”
— Marion

Try a timer

“My biggest help was to be consistent. We used a timer to help us both remember to go potty. We started with every 20 minutes, and as I could see he was needing to go less, gradually increased the time. Eventually, he would tell me he needed to go before the timer went off, or say he didn’t need to when it did. Then we’d set the timer for five or 10 more minutes and try again.”
— Amy

Set up target practice

“We put a flushable item, such as Cheerios or Fruit Loops, in the toilet. (You can also use shaving cream or colored ice cubes.) The game for our son was to aim and shoot. Rewards were based on accuracy and number of downed Cheerios (Fruit Loops added the extra challenge of shooting a particular color). It was fun and challenging and did wonders for his accuracy! With BMs, we told him the game was to send in the backup troops (no pun intended) to finish the job with torpedoes. I doubt this would work with girls, but Alex took less than a week to be fully day-trained.”
— Roxann

The colored water trick

“We dyed the toilet water with red or blue food coloring; it changes to orange or green and they love knowing that they did this.”
— Amy

Make them feel proud

“With my daughter, I tried to focus on verbal praise: ‘What a big girl thing to do!’ ‘You must be so proud of yourself.’ ‘Do you want to call Grandma to tell her?’ ‘Give me a high five!'”
— Kirsten

“With our son, the best and most motivational reward was calling in the dog to look at what he’d done in the potty!”
— Sharon

Use treats and surprises

“Our daughter wasn’t very consistent with toilet training until we introduced the surprise bag. We got a bunch of inexpensive toys and stickers and put them in a colorful gift bag. Every time she used the toilet, we would clap and tell her what a great job she did and let her pick one surprise out of the bag. We kept it up for about a week and a half, and when the surprises ran out she just kept on using the potty. We continued to praise her and she quickly forgot the surprise bag. I can honestly say that toilet training was painless and quick with this method, and I plan to use it again with my next child.”
— Jamie

“I collected a bunch of inexpensive little toys in a dark pillowcase (so it wouldn’t be see-through). When it came time to toilet train my 3-year-old son (an idea he was extremely resistant to), I would let him take one item from the pillowcase every time he went poop on the potty. This worked so quickly that within three weeks he was completely trained. Unfortunately, this method is not working with my daughter, who just turned 3. Why not? I don’t get it.”
— Merita

“We kept a container of our daughter Morgan’s favorite little candy treat on her dresser. If she successfully used the potty, she would receive three of them (we’d let her pick the colors as well). Within a month she was using the potty regularly, with few accidents, and not long after that she was trained.”
— Lisa

“My 28-month-old really loved my nail polish. I found some at the grocery store that would come right off when she washed her hands, so I let my toddler paint her fingernails every time she peed in the potty. I told her that when she pooed she could have some of Mommy’s polish, which wouldn’t wash off, on one finger. Ten days later, she was completely potty trained.”
— Lisa

“What worked for my daughter, in just one week, was the treasure box/chest idea. I bought inexpensive toys such as puzzles, plastic animals, squirt guns, chalk, and a bug-catching container. When I got home we decorated the plastic container and I explained to her that when she went on the potty she’d get to pick a prize. She was so excited, and after just a week we had 100 percent success.”
— jamienicole87

Celebrate with stickers

“To encourage our son Alexander to use the potty, we put a drawing of a racetrack on the wall (an approach suggested by his preschool). Every time he used the potty he got to place a sticker on the racetrack. When the racetrack was filled with stickers, he got to pick a toy at the store as a reward.”
— Cheryl

Put your child in charge

“When my 18-month-old started going into the bathroom and closing the door, I knew she was about ready to toilet train. I would let her go in and use her potty, dump it into the big toilet, and put it up in the sink for me to rinse out.”
— Katherine

Make flushing fun

“I began potty training my first child at about 20 months and am now in the process of training our second. One easy and excellent incentive is letting them flush the potty if they go. You need to establish a rule that this is the onlytime they get to flush. This is a simple and easy reward, and develops a needed habit.”
— Deanna

Sitting solution

“We put our son Nick on the big potty backwards. The potty-chair was too hard for him to use (without the little guard, he would pee on the floor, and with it, he had trouble sitting down because his legs were so chubby). My mother came up with the idea of putting him backwards. That way he automatically aimed in the right place, and he had the back of the toilet to hold on to. If he had to go poopy he just scooted his bottom up a little more toward the tank. He thought it was so funny he wanted to do it all the time. It took about a month, and he never had an accident after that.”
— Melissa

Throw out the diapers

“As a preschool teacher and mom, one of the best toilet training tips I can offer is to resist the temptation of using disposable “underwear,” such as training pants, all the time. The children don’t get uncomfortable when they are wet, and I’ve noticed that it severely prolongs potty training. Of course every child is different, but this is definitely a trend I’ve noticed while working with a gaggle of 20 2 1/2-year-olds!”
— Jenny

“I put painter’s plastic down on the carpets, then took off my 16-month-old’s diaper. There were a number of accidents, but the cleanups were quick and easy because of the plastic. She soon caught on and was happy not to be in uncomfortable diapers!”
— Carmen

“I had my son pick out underwear with his favorite character, Thomas the Tank Engine, on them. Then I told him not to get Thomas wet. It worked immediately!”
— Mania

“My son was fully toilet trained at 3, except he wouldn’t go poo in the toilet. I tried everything, and asked everyone. Finally one day we were shopping and he asked for boxers. I told him that if we got these he would have to use the toilet or it would get all over the place. That seemed to be the magic thing because ever since then he has had no more accidents.”
— Maile

“I let my daughter wear undies every day until naptime, but I put plastic pants over them to prevent messes. In the beginning she wet several times a day and didn’t like the feeling. I also gave her a nickel for her piggy every time she sat on the potty. She was trained by 20 months.”
— Rose

“My daughter tortured me for months, using the potty successfully one day, then demanding diapers the next. Finally I told her that the pack of diapers we had just bought was the last, and I wasn’t buying any more. We then picked out training pants. When we got down to the last few diapers, I again emphasized that they were the last and when they were gone there wouldn’t be any more. We then went to training pants and to Drypers ‘sleeping undies’ at night. She had a few accidents the first week and has been trained ever since!”
— Margaret

Dress her in dresses

“A little trick with girls: I put my girl in dresses for about three weeks while we were training. It was easier for her to get ready for the potty and allowed for quick decisions when she was in the middle of playing.”
— Lisa

Give up to get results

“Our daughter was 2 1/2 when we finally got her trained. We tried everything in the book. She wanted to wear underwear but not go to the potty. Finally we said, ‘Go ahead and do what you want.’ Two days later, she started using the potty on her own, with no encouragement from us!”
— Tasha


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