Potty Training 101

This is my potty training journey. I am not a potty training “expert” and do not have ALL the answers. However, I have successfully gotten two children out of diapers and am starting on the third. This is how I did it . . . for each child.

First, things you WILL need:
·      Underwear—I say around 10-15 pairs (you will find out why in a minute)
·      Stickers or other small prizes (I will tell you which in a minute as well)
·      Patience
·      A smile

Things you MAY need depending on your child and lifestyle:
·      MORE patience
·      MORE smiles
·      Traveling potty seat (completely optional—but if you travel in a car long distances, it may be necessary)
·      Toilet ladder (many places make them—they slide onto the regular toilet seat so someone smaller can get on to the toilet)
·      Night pads for the bed
·      3 day toilet training manual found here: http://www.3daypottytraining.com/

Things you will NOT need
·      Diapers
·      Pull-ups
·      Potty seat

Are you still with me? Toilet training without pull-ups or a potty seat? Are you nuts? I know that many people are thinking exactly that, but bear with me. There is a method to my madness.

The very first thing you need to ask yourself is if your child is ready. Only YOU know the answer to this. Do not try to ask your friend, your mother, the postal carrier—most likely you are with your child more than anyone else, so only you can answer the question. How did I know my child was ready?
·      He/ she could communicate when they wanted to be changed
·      He/ she showed interest in the toilet
It is VERY important not to push your child into toilet training before he/ she is ready!

The next thing you need to know is that there are two products that most parents buy that are completely unnecessary and may only stall your potty training journey with your child. The first is the potty chair.

I know, I know . . . your child already received one as a gift, you found a cute one, or (insert your random reason here). I have owned my share of potty chairs. But the truth is, they only make potty training harder. How, you are probably asking. Well, I assume that you and your child do leave the house . . . at least on occasion. I would like you to think of the last place you went with your child. For me, it was the grocery store. Your child will inevitably have to use the bathroom when you are somewhere other than home. I do not know about you, but I have never visited a public restroom with a potty chair. Never. Not once. Training your child on a potty seat rather than a regular toilet only makes those public restroom visits harder. I strongly suggest getting the ladder type toilet seat if you child is short, and the ones that just sit on the toilet if your child is tall enough to get onto the toilet him or her self. I also love the disposable toilet liners. I keep them with me when I am out and about with my little potty trainer if they are still a little nervous about using a public toilet.

The second issue is the use of pull-ups. I know that there is a huge industry built around encouraging parents to use them. In the end, they are a glorified diaper that a child can remove themselves. This is great for teaching independence, but I believe for toilet training going to underwear immediately is for the best. The child learns what it feels like to be wet, and your toilet training journey will most likely be shortened using underwear. I purchase a LOT of underwear for toilet training time, and I also like to use the rubber pants to go over the underwear to use for when I absolutely must leave the house while training. We also are huge supporters of letting children run around the house naked for a few days while toilet training.

So now what? I have told you to get rid of the two most common toilet training “tools.” Now, you listen to your child.

How you respond depends on your child. As I explained above, I believe parents know their children best, and know what their children will respond to best. I am going to explain my three children and how I trained each. They all have very different temperaments, and thus their training was vastly different.

My oldest child, A, essentially toilet trained herself. One day, she decided she wanted to start using the potty. We got the potty ladder (all of my children were short), and she would just start going to the bathroom herself. We switched her to underwear that week, and encouraged her to keep doing what she was doing by having a sticker chart. A responds very well to positive reinforcement. If you tell her she is doing a good job, she will continue to do a good job and want to do even better. All I needed with her was essentially stickers.

I was not so lucky with my middle child, K—well, I was lucky, but in a different way. He has certainly taught me patience! K took his precious time to potty train, but that is the kind of guy he is. He is the child that when you tell him he will not get dessert unless he finishes everything on his plate—well, he says ok, and just leaves the table. He cannot be praised into any situation, but really just needs his own time to make up his own decision. So there we were, 2 months before preschool started (3 year old preschool) and I knew he really wanted to go. We told him the simple facts. If he was potty trained and learned to use the big boy potty, he could go to preschool. If he did not, he could not go. He was still quite reluctant. We ended up buying the 3-day potty training system, and stuck to it—it worked. In three days he was potty trained, so I am a huge supporter of the system. So, if you are stuck in a situation where time is of the essence, I would strongly suggest using the system. Because the information and system is copyrighted, I am not going to share the system on the site, but again, if you are pressed for time, I suggest going that route.

So we get to my last child, my baby Z. Z is 2 years old and has shown interest in the potty. I know she is ready because she lets people know when she wants to be changed. She LOVES cats and Dora, so we bought many pairs of Hello Kitty and Dora underwear. We also have a treasure chest full of things we know she will really want. We are starting her potty training on Friday, when she will wear underwear at home. When she uses the toilet (we already have the ladder seat for her), she gets a prize. She will remain in underwear all weekend long, and we are hoping by Sunday that she has the hang of things before she returns to daycare. We have a wonderful daycare that will work with us, and we plan to send her with plastic type covers for the times she is in daycare (which is 3 days a week).

So, I wish you much luck . . . and am hoping for luck myself this weekend. I will post after the weekend and let you know how my journey went! 

MamaBreak is in no way affiliated with the 3 day potty training system linked above, nor did we receive any compensation of any sort for posting the link here. We simply used the system with our second child, and therefore found it to be a helpful tool. 

Have questions about potty training? Ask the mamas at 2mamas@mamabreak.com


  1. Good advice! I agree with the potty seat thing, However my son has one of those seats he puts on the regular toilet so he doesn't fear falling in.He will use the regular potty in restrooms though.

    1. Yes, I do recommend those. It is just more comfortable. We do the one that is attached to the ladder. :) It is much better than a potty chair.

  2. Wahoo! I think we'll start potty training on Monday. Minus undies. Because I'm moving. Long story.

    Great tips, thanks for the post!

    1. I would buy something similar than. See if your local Target carries the rubber pant covers. That is what I would recommend using.

  3. yeah my friends needs this great tip

  4. I absolutely agree. We let our kids run around naked or in just undies all the time in the house when they are tiny. They have both pooped right in the floor. Oh well what are you going to do. I love your explanation of the undies so they can FEEL wet.

    1. Exactly. Poop happens . . . even on the floor. It makes the whole process faster and less traumatic.

  5. I Love your tips, we have been potty trained here for years, I really love the point you included the child has to be ready and to not push. I have found so many parents who are trying to do it on their schedule instead of their childs.All of mine it only took a few days because we waited until they were ready. Thank you for sharing these tips.