Potty Training Methods

There are probably as many potty training methods out there as there are versions of Little Red Riding Hood! It seems like everyone has an opinion on how (and by what age) a child should be trained. Once you know you are ready to potty train your toddler and your tot is ready to be potty trained, the next step is choosing a method. Deciding which potty training technique you’ll use is solely up to you, but here are some methods to consider

The “Practice First” Potty Training Technique:

This method is not about beginning full-time training on a single day like other potty training methods, but rather about gradually introducing your child to the concepts of toilet training first.

Start by getting some toilet training movies from the library or buying some online. Let your child watch the movies with no strings attached. The point of this is to help your toddler become comfortable with the concept and learn the process.

Next, decide between a potty chair or a putting a toddler seat on the toilet. Then give your toddler opportunities to try to use it.

You may want to let your tot watch you or a willing older sibling use the toilet. Explain the steps: Pull your pants down, use the toilet, wipe, pull pants up, flush the toilet, turn on the water, wash hands, etc.

Tell your child when you feel you have to go bathroom. Let them know how you know you have to go. Example: “I have a feeling in my tummy, I know I need to go pee on the toilet.”

Let your tot practice pulling their pants up and down when getting dressed in the morning or getting ready for bath at night.

Let your child practice washing hands.

Encourage him/her to sit on the toilet or potty, just to try it out, in the morning and at night.

Gradually start bringing your child to the potty when you feel s/he may have a chance at successfully peeing or pooping.

If your tot does succeed, you may want to give a reward like a sticker for a chart, a small treat, or something else your little one loves.

After your tot understands the idea of going potty and has successfully gone in the potty several times then you can start introducing him/her to underwear or pullups and start potty training full time. There are many tiny steps to potty training, and many little potty training successes. This method helps your child begin official potty training after several basic potty training skills are already learned. This method works well with young toddlers who may show an interest in learning but may not be showing all the potty training signs yet.

The “Potty Train Today” Method

Your toddler won’t complete potty training in a day, but here is a method to get him/her on the fast track to toilet training.

Let your tot know the night before that s/he will start using the potty (or toilet) the next day and will be saying “bye-bye” to diapers (at least during the day).

When he/she wakes up in the morning help him/her do the first potty run. Put your child on the potty and give him/her a chance to try and go. You may need to wait a little bit. If the morning diaper is already peed then this attempt may not be successful. If nothing happens after a few minutes, you can take him/her off.

Introduce your toddler to underwear (you can use vinyl or rubber training pants over the top to help contain any accidents). Let your toddler choose a pair to try on. Then take your little one to get a nice big drink of something he/she loves. You want your child to have to pee a lot today, so make sure you choose a drink that will really get guzzled!

Set the timer and let him/her know that when the timer goes off it’s time to “go”. Some toddlers can pee every 15 minutes when drinking a lot, some will last longer. Choose what time works best for your toddler. Then take him/her every time the timer goes off.

Be prepared, some toddlers will pee a little in the potty or toilet without fully emptying their bladders, meaning they can still have an accident minutes after a success! You may want to have your toddler sit on an absorbent towel throughout the day to save your furniture or carpets from needing a cleaning.

Remember to stay up-beat! This part is as vital as any other! You have to stay positive to keep the cooperation and excitement going. Don’t get discouraged and don’t do anything to crush your toddler’s confidence! Keep setting the timer, keep giving drinks and keeping taking your little one potty. Remember, accidents can be a learning experience too.

Every success needs to be celebrated. Reward your toddler with a sticker for a chart, some M&M’s or skittles, or something he/she loves to motivate him/her to keep going.

After a day or two of this, many kids who already showed signs of potty training readiness will have the basics down. Keep setting the timer and helping your little one go often until you feel s/he recognizes when to go on her/his own. If no progress has been made, it may be a sign to take a break from potty training full time right now.

The “All-Natural” Potty Training Method:

This is the method many people hear about from a grandmother or other relative. The idea is to let your toddler run around naked and learn from experience that he/she would rather go in the potty than on himself/herself. This is probably the dirtiest of the toilet training methods.

Ideally, you would want to do this in an area of your house that can be easily cleaned, like on tile floor. Some parents let their child run around in the backyard.

The benefit of this method is that your toddler learns quickly to pay attention to his/her bodily cues that he/she needs to go. One draw back: this method doesn’t teach how to use the potty so you’ll still have to do that.

The “Bring the Potty” Method

For this method you need to buy one of those toddler-sized potties. Then, let your toddler get used to sitting on the potty with clothes on first. Bring the potty where your toddler is. Let him/her sit on it while watching TV, or playing with toys, or reading, etc. Next, help your toddler practice pulling down pants and sitting on the potty. This can take place in whatever room your toddler feels comfortable in. You want him/her to sit there for a while. If your child sits long enough, s/he is going to eventually pee or poo. Then you and your toddler can take the potty to the bathroom, flush the contents, and wash your hands. Continue to do this and your toddler will get the hang of using this potty. Soon, your child will recognize when s/he needs to go without being prompted!

A benefit to a little potty like this is that it is easier for kids to poop while their feet touch the ground. Also, it’s less intimidating because it’s small and doesn’t flush. As your child gets better at using the potty you can bring this portable one with you wherever you may need it.

Unlike other potty training methods, you will have to clean this little potty very frequently.

As your toddler really masters the little potty, you can help him/her master the real toilet.


Every toddler is different. Some will train quickly, some slowly, and some not until they are a preschooler! Be patient, stay consistent, and choose the training method that’s best for the both of you, or tweak them to create your own. Potty training/ toilet training toddlers can be a difficult process, but stay positive and remember your child will eventually get it and you will eventually be done changing diapers or cleaning up accidents!

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