How to Potty Train Your Child

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Potty training is not just about teaching a child to use the potty, but also learning your own style of parenting in the process!After you work through the whole process, you can sit back and relax! Then remember, the squishy little plastic sound of your little guy who did not care if he pooped in his diaper will be replaced with "I gotta go potty...NOW!", and you running for the nearest bathroom hoping it is free.


  1. Do not be too eager to get your little one out of diapers/nappies. While it can be convenient to have a potty-trained child, sometimes its not so convenient for the child (or the adult).
  2. Wait until you are both ready. To potty train, you need a LOT of time, patience and energy! Some people begin as early as 3 months, others feel this is stressful for the child and allow more time. A generally favored approach begins sometime after the first year or at about 18 months.
  3. Choose a specific time or times of the day when you place your beloved on or in front of the potty. These can be: after waking up; before a nap; after lunch; before going to sleep. It can be once a day or more than that, but try to keep it consistent. A good choice for the time of day is one that will work well with the schedule of the childs main caregivers. If you are potty-training an infant, be sure to support the baby for safety.
  4. Realize that the first day or two can be frustrating. But once your baby does it and you show signs of approval and excitement, baby will want to do it over and over to make you happy.
  5. Have the child sit on the potty whenever you do. Do not worry whether they go or not. If they do go to the bathroom, congratulate them. If they do not go, point out what a good try it was and how exciting it is that they were sitting on the potty just like mama and daddy. Keep it calm and matter of fact.
  6. Try not to get upset or show disappointment if it doesnt happen right away. Each child will learn in his or her own time and place. There is no rush to potty train. Once your child is a big boy or girl, he or she wont be a baby ever again. Enjoy having the baby for a year or two... or three.
  7. Begin leaving the childs diaper off for a few hours each day when you are home so they can learn to relate the internal feelings of needing to go with the outcome.
  8. When your child is doing well at home, buy some underpants or all-cloth training pants. Talk about the underpants a lot, let the child look at them and feel how soft they are. Tell them "Mommy and Daddy wear underpants and keep them dry. Mommy and Daddy go in the toilet every time."
  9. Try a quick errand or walk around the block (15 minutes-30 minutes tops) in the underwear and as soon as you get home, take them off. If it goes well be excited, if your child went to the bathroom in the underwear, change them and try again later. Do not punish or act upset.
  10. Congratulate your child whenever he tells you about the urge to go. Say "thank you," "thats great!," or some other form of encouragement that you feel comfortable using.
  11. When you are out, take your child to public toilets and let them try them it out. Keep it light and do not pressure them to go if they arent ready.
  12. When they are dry or fairly dry most days, your child may be ready for nap and night-training. If so, buy bed pads(at least 3 so you can change them easily) and get the kind that are soft feeling and have a plastic layer inside and put it on top of the bottom sheet. Put a potty next to the bed or crib. As soon as the child wakes up and calls for you, put him or her on the potty. If they go in the bed, change the pad and do not make a big deal of it.
  13. Once you embark on the toilet training path, you have to keep it going. This is the hard part for most parents. It is tempting to put them in diapers for a road-trip or for a concert or at the babysitters house, but it will confuse them and cause problems. Once they have been in underwear exclusively for a week pack up their changing area and store it or get rid of it. Dress them on the floor or on the bed, not on their back on the changing table. You also need to help them learn to ask themselves if they need to go to the bathroom -not just ask or try all the time. It has to become their responsibility gradually.
  14. Once they are going on their own, you can help them learn all of the steps of bathroom self sufficiency. The steps are;
    • Knowing you have to go
    • Going to the bathroom or asking an adult to go to the bathroom
    • Closing the door
    • Pulling down pants and underpants, or pulling off pants and underpants, or push up skirt and pull down underpants, or pull down tights and push up skirt and pull down underpants.
    • Sitting down on potty or climbing up onto toilet(May involve a sub-step of pushing a stool over to climb up)
    • Going to the bathroom
    • Wiping(This can be a hard one for a long time if you want true cleanliness, a wet-wipe can be easier than toilet paper)
    • Getting up and pulling up pants/tights and underpants, pull down skirt etc.
    • Flushing the toilet
    • Turning on water and washing hands with soap
    • Turning off the water and drying their hands. Its a lot to learn, so expect that you will be in the bathroom a lot. The more they see you do it the easier it will be to remember.


  • Really take this time to realize how you want to parent. Will you spend more time encouraging your child? Or will you spend more time trying to remember that eventually she will learn on her own? Or are you going to try to get your spouse to do the dirty work? (Yes, even the best of us try to weasel out of some yucky stuff). Will you walk your child through it? Will you gather information or wing it?
  • Make it fun. Sitting on the potty is a great time for baby to look at bath books, play with a small magnetic drawing toy or to use crayons and stickers on paper. Remember to stay in the room with your baby and use toys that are age-appropriate.
  • Some children have a hard time with doing #2 on the toilet. When potty training, if they do it in their pants, put the feces into the toilet, and say goodbye to it. This can work so that the child understands where it goes and they see it in action.
  • Do not take potty training personally. While some mommies may compare... all good mommies & daddies know that each child, parent and family is different from all the others in the world!
  • Extol the virtues of undies, so your child will be excited to wear them -- s/he can wear them over diapers sometimes to feel "all grown up." Find some fun undies with patterns or pictures your child will want to wear.
  • Get all of the childs caregivers/nannies/babysitters/relatives onboard with the process, so that there is consistency and a sense of routine.
  • Combine a few minutes on the potty with the usual routines of washing hands and face, drying hands and face, and even brushing teeth. This can and should be a time to reinforce good hygiene habits, which are important for preventing colds and illness. After potty time, wash and dry your own hands well.
  • When you have time, reflect on how you handled the potty training situation since it is the first big thing to learn in life - what would you change? Or not change? Would you have been more patient? Spent more parent/baby time practicing? Talked through it some more? Read more books? Brought out the charts and movies? Not rushed yourself or your baby? Take that and use that in the next adventure: ABCs...reading..etc!
  • Do not complain or punish your child if she goes to the bathroom on the floor, the furniture, your bed, your new shoes, ect. Clean it up or get your child to help you clean it up. Let them know you are not mad and that its not their fault; theyre learning and remember that accidents happen.
  • When you are in a public toilet or away from home you can either bring a potty with you, bring a seat adapter with you, or hold your childs hands so they do not fall in the toilet. Do what you can to make them feel comfortable about going to the bathroom away from home. If they cant go, do not push them and praise them for trying.
  • If your child is in full-time day care and the day-care provider has a method of toilet training, you should follow their method when at home.


  • Do not get upset when, a month later, your little girl or boy wants to wear diapers again. It is very common! Its not in any way meant towards you personally (even if she says she hates her overalls and hours later pees in them).
  • Once they are out of diapers, do not go back to them.
  • Avoid food rewards because they may have an unwanted effect on feeding behavior later in life.
  • Do not use pull-ups - they make training harder in most cases.
  • Do not talk about "big boys vs. babies" or "big girls vs. babies"; This can actually have a huge negative affect on their confidence levels.
  • Do not get mad at your kid for accidents or even intentional incidents.
  • Do not call them mean names, hit them, or threaten them about anything.
  • Do not compare their toileting abilities to other kids. Its never okay to say things like, "Jenna is still little and she wears underpants like a big girl, but you wear diapers like a baby."
  • If you are worried about your child having too many accidents, talk to your physician.
  • If your child is having frequent bathroom accidents at an older age, like 6, it is recommended that you do take your child to a physician right away and do not ignore it. This could be a warning sign of physical or psychological problems.

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