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Potty training

8 Effective Potty Training Tips for Toddlers

August 7, 2019, Author: Tamra Cater

Potty training tips

I think I needed to have read a lot on potty training tips early on, as potty training was a bit hard for us.

For instance, it has taken quite a while to get to the point we are at. However, we did start early by buying our daughter a potty at around 18 months or so. We’d start by getting her to sit on the potty with her clothes on and then reward her for that. Once she did that well, we worked on pulling our pants down and so on. Eventually, we tried to see if she would sit on the toilet every 30-60 minutes for stickers. This worked for a while, but then she got bored with the reward I guess.

Well, the way she finally peed in the toilet is by letting her run around naked and promising a toy. Lol, she hasn’t exactly grown tired of the opportunities for toys, so that is a good thing for her at least (but not my budget)! Our next step is getting her more used to panties and recognizing exactly when she needs to go. She’s getting better at recognizing when she needs to go, however.

I roved through websites and advice from other moms to find the best potty training tips to help other moms out there who may be going through the same thing we are.

What I Would have Done Differently

I will say that consistency is something we probably should have done more of! We needed to take out some time, maybe a couple of days, to focus on just toilet training. As mentioned from one article, consistency and knowing when children are ready for potty training is key! My daughter probably also wasn’t ready when we started, because she didn’t always express natural interest in wanting to go pee.

Now, I’d like to talk a bit on when toilet training usually starts, when children are ready, and tips for making it go a bit more smoothly than it did for us.

When should you start potty training?

There’s really no perfect time for your child to learn to use the potty, as it depends on many factors. However, when your child is around 1, they are beginning to to become aware of the relationship between his or her body functions and the result (a wet or poopy diaper).

When your child begins to walk, you can help him or her become more aware of their body. You can begin to name body parts, as well as saying the word for pee or poop (when they do either). Your child may also want to be with you when you use the bathroom, so this can help model the behavior for your child.

You may have some early success when your child is 18 months. For example, Frances from Inspiring Life Dreams, was able to potty train her child at 18 months. She offers some great insight on how she did that on her blog post. It seemed that having an older cousin that her child wanted to emulate was extremely helpful, as well as a strong will! However, most children, at this age, do not yet have the communication skills to say that they need to pee or poop, and they may not have the physical skills to pull down their clothes/pull-up in time.

Most children are ready somewhere between 2 and 3 years of age, with some coming before that or later.  By the age of 5, children should be able to handle the potty by themselves.

How do you know when your child is ready for potty training?

First of all, it’s important to know when children are ready. Sara, from Clean Living with Kids, said that letting her children lead the way (knowing when they are ready) was what made potty training go smoothly for her children. According to Hehe Stewart from Family Education, she suggests that you take things slow and be sure not to force it if your children seem scared to use the potty.

Signs that Children are Ready for Potty Training

At around the age of 2, most children will show some interest and ability in terms of toileting. Your child can likely dress and undress themselves with some help, and they also likely have a sense of when they need to pee or poop. For example, you may notice that your child goes to a special place when they need to pee or poop. For example, my daughter would always go to her room and shut the door when she needed to poop.

potty training tips

How do I Potty Train?

1.First, pick a day to start and commit to it. Before picking a day, ensure you and your child are both ready for it. If you are stressed or anxious about something, this may not be the time to start. Also, consider whether your child is ready. For example, if they are in the middle of a major transition such as a big move or having a new sibling brought home, then this may not be the best time to start. In a post by Hehe Stewart, she suggested that it’s important that you know that your children are ready for potty training. If they are not ready and you push it, then this may lead to prolonged diaper wearing.

2.Put the diapers away. Let your child know that it’s time to put the diapers away completely. If your child seems emotionally sensitive about the diapers being put away completely, then suggest that you both put them in a special place. In an article by Jaimi Stewart, she suggested that once you do this, dress your child in undies/panties and a shirt. You can also start by going completely naked, so there are no obstacles, and then you can move to undies/panties once they are good with going potty naked.  As you do this, fill your child with fluids all day long. She also mentions that you’ll want to stay home for 48 hours, so you can focus just on toilet training. And I will say, that this has helped me with potty training my daughter. I had to make sure I had some time to toilet train and stay home for a period of time.

According to another article, you might consider potty training during the summer. You can let your kids run around with a shirt and no bottoms outside (or even fully naked if you are comfortable with that). This helps you and the child stay aware of how much they are peeing, but it also gives you many opportunities to praise them when they do pee.

3.Make the potty accessible. We got a small potty that was lower to the ground and stuck it in the living room. I think this was easier for my daughter, so she didn’t have to run all the way to back where the bathroom is. However, if you have a toilet that is very easy to get to, you can get products to modify them, so your child can use the adult sized toilet. Just be sure to have a step stool or ladder, so they can climb up on it.

Here’s a toddler sized potty that is perfect for both boys and girls. Click on the picture for more information: 

potty training tips

Here’s a potty training seat that can be put on an adult-sized toilet. You can click on the picture for more information: 

potty training tips

4.Consider using rewards. For my daughter, I used candy whenever she sat on the potty and tried. When there was pee or poop, I would give her a small toy. So I didn’t go broke doing this, I’d just get some Dollar General or Dollar Tree toys and use those as rewards. This has seemed to work for her. Some individuals also use stickers and place them on a potty chart. After the child gets so many stickers, he or she gets a reward. I tried stickers with my daughter, but they quickly lost their reinforcing value, even if I did offer a toy after getting so many stickers! However, it may work for your child.

You can download this free printable calendar to use as a potty chart:

potty training tips

This potty chart has 4 weeks on it, and you can choose to add stickers to each day whenever your child uses the potty. If they get so many stickers in a day or week, you might decide to give a bigger reward such as a toy!

5.Observe your child. Watch for signs when your child has to pee or poop. For example, I know when my daughter has to pee when she starts to hold her private parts. I know she has to poop when she goes and hides in her room.  Once you recognize these signs, get your child to the potty as soon as possible.

6.Model going to the potty. If you are comfortable with the lack of privacy, it’s helpful for children to know where pee and poop are supposed to go. You can also talk about how your child gets to use their potty to do the same thing.

7.Need a laugh or a break from potty training? Potty training is hard and difficult at times, so sometimes you just need a break from it. Check out this post on some silliness that ensued when one mom trained her boys how to go to the potty.

8. Potty training  may be easier when there are multiple kids. Tiffany, from Sears in the South, suggested that potty training can be easier for families with multiple kids. For example, the older kids can be an example or model for the younger kids who are potty training. However, it can be hard to go out in public and take your potty trainer to the potty when you have multiple kids. Tiffany mentioned that her family put a potty seat  in the back of their Suburban, so they don’t have to try to take all the kids into the bathroom and also get the potty trainer to use a big potty.

How Should I Best Handle Accidents?

When a child is around the age of 2, they may know that pee goes in the potty. However, they may not be able to recognize when the pee is coming or they may be too entranced in their play that they don’t make it to the potty in time. Accidents are also likely to happen when out and about and on long road trips. So, it’s important to plan ahead. You might take a little potty to keep in the car, as well as an extra change of clothes.

When accidents do happen, stay calm and use descriptive words. For example, you can say, “I can see that your shorts are wet.” At this point, take your child to the bathroom and sit them on the potty to see if there is any more pee that may come. Once your child is redressed and finished, remind your child that “pee goes in the potty.” Work with your child to clean up any messes and then move onto something else.

Final Thoughts on Potty Training

It’s likely best to take potty training in steps. For example, you can start young by introducing them to the potty, having them sit on it, and modeling how to use a potty. Then, when you and your child are ready, you can start with your child being naked. Once your child gets how to potty this way, you may try using panties. As you are doing this, be consistent. Once you put the diapers away, try not to go back to them, as this may confuse your child.

Potty training can take time, and it can be frustrating. However, your child will get it with practice. You got this mamma! 🙂

If you like this post, please share it!! 

potty training tips

References and More Reading

Annis, S.

Casey. (2019). Potty training boys. Retrieved from

Hargis, A. (2018). Toddler discipline for every age and stage: Effective strategies to tame tantrums, overcome challenges, and help your child grow. Rockridge Press: Emeryville, CA.

Kelley, K. (2019). How we potty trained in a week. Retrieved from

Krieger, A. (2017). Putting on my big girl pants. Retrieved from

Vidakovic, F.


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comments (12)

  • avatar image
    Thank you for the tips. My toddler is being difficult on this while my first child was a lot easier to train. I feel like I have to go back to basics and start again. What worked for one child is not working for the other.


    August 9, 2019 Reply
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      I love that your daughter went into her room and shut the door when she had to go. How cute! My daughter is 2 1/2 but has no interest in going to the potty. I will definitely be trying these tips!!


      August 9, 2019 Reply
  • avatar image
    Although I don’t have kids these tips are very important for new parents! Thanks a lot! I will share across my network.


    August 9, 2019 Reply
  • avatar image
    I'm going to need these tips next year. Thanks!


    August 9, 2019 Reply
  • avatar image
    GREAT post! Spot-on advice. I am hearing from more and more parents that the "naked" method is what worked for them - it was the ONLY thing that worked for us, after trying every single other "oh this is what did it for my kiddo!" tip we'd heard. We gave each one a good go, and were consistent for plenty of time for it to work - but running around "commando-style" was what finally did the trick.

    Flossie McCowald

    August 9, 2019 Reply
    • avatar image
      Thanks! Yeah, surprisingly it worked for us. I thought pull ups would help first, but they didn’t.

      Tamra Cater

      August 9, 2019 Reply
  • avatar image
    Great post. I know potty training is not easy.

    janice sisemore

    August 9, 2019 Reply
  • avatar image
    Hi Tamara, You always have such detailed and informative articles for dealing with children and this one should be very helpful to parents who are gone through potty training with their children. I don't have any children in my home any more but I do know it can be a real trail with some kids. Thanks for sharing all your tips and ideas. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day.


    August 9, 2019 Reply
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      Tamra Cater

      August 9, 2019 Reply
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    The most important thing I was told was that no adult is not potty trained. It will happen. My second son broke his leg right as we were having success. Sprint training for me.

    Gillian Kent

    August 9, 2019 Reply
  • avatar image
    Great tips! My son was easy to train, but I’ll remember these for when it’s time for my daughter.


    August 9, 2019 Reply
  • avatar image
    Love these tips! They are concise and calm and perfect to start anyone off potty training their child. I love the different suggestions and agree that, when there is more than one child, it is easier to potty train. When a child sees their siblings using the potty, they are more likely to want to follow in their footsteps.

    Jaya Avendel

    August 12, 2019 Reply