How To Potty Train Your Toddler

pink toilet potty training mickey mouse sweatshirt striped pants three years old

I’ve dreaded potty training since Milan started walking.  I don’t know why either.  Maybe it’s the realization that she’s no longer a baby or I can’t stand the thought of bringing her into public restrooms (lol).  I’m not going to sugar coat this post because let’s face it.  Potty training is AWFUL.  Most definitely the hardest part about parenting so far.  A million times harder than sleep training!

My original goal was to have her potty trained before she turned 3.  I talked to her about it back in December and she kept saying “I’m not ready! I’m still a baby.  I won’t be ready for 7, 40 days!”  I didn’t want to pressure her and to be honest, I was a little relieved.  So I waited.  She turned 3 in January and panic started to kick in for me.  I think there is so much pressure on when to potty train your kids, how fast some kids can figure it out etc.  My sister told me she was able to potty train her daughter who was 2 at time in one full day with no accidents.  After going through the full potty training experience, I’m convinced my precious niece is a some kind of magical unicorn.  One day?  That’s amazing.  I also heard that girls are much easier than boys to potty train.

So how did I successfully potty train Milan?  There’s no magical formula but here is what worked for us.

BE PREPARED

You need to be mentally prepared as well as making sure you have all the necessities needed.  I had her pick out her favorite cartoon underwear a week prior.  She enjoyed being a part of this process.  She was not excited about her plain organic underwear that I got her last December that cost me an arm and a leg.  I bought all my necessities in advance.  I got her this pink toilet (comes in 3 colors) that has a real flushing sound, tiny trash bags as liner so I wouldn’t have to wash out the bowl every single time, a portable travel potty for the car and extra liners plus all her favorite treats as rewards.  If you don’t have any help or a partner, make sure to plan out a week of meals and groceries so you don’t have to leave the house.

REWARD SYSTEM

Decide what type of reward you want to give them for every time they go on the potty.  For every pee, she got one organic jelly bean/gummy bear and for poop, she would get 2 chocolate gems (similar to M&M’s).  Some people do stickers but that does not get her excited so unfortunately I had to go this route.  I told her that if she wants to go to pre-school, she needs to be potty trained.  She’s really excited about going to school so this was big incentive for her.  I also made a HUGE deal anytime she went to pee or poop successfully and we would hold hands and dance and scream at the top of our lungs.  She LOVED this recognition and it was so much fun.  We called it our crazy dance. LOL

PLAN TO STAY HOME

Plan to stay home for 5-7 days.  Literally.  You cannot leave the house.  Prepare lots of games and activities to keep them busy.  I made the mistake of starting on a Thursday when I knew I had to work on Saturday and leave her with the grandparents.  Do not do this!  We’ve been so freaking busy with everything that is going on that I had no choice.  This set us back a whole day.  Big mistake.

OUR JOURNEY

I decided that she was going to go straight into underwear the morning we started.  Some people go commando but she tends to scratch due to her eczema so this was not an option however it does work for some people.  The first two days were horrible.  I mean like for reals.  She simply just refused to go on her pink potty.  She basically went in her underwear.  Yes pee and poop.  We had accidents left and right.  On the couch, on her play mat, on the floor.  You name it.  I was SO FRUSTRATED.  I was going to throw in the towel at the end of the day on Friday.  She just would NOT listen or cooperate.  I had to work on Saturday which was day #3 and had to leave her with the grandparents.  It didn’t go well and she continued to have accidents while I was gone.  When I got home, I was like okay clearly she is not ready and was about to give up AGAIN.

The next morning (Sunday Day #4), I was determined to do this.  We stayed home all day and she had her first successful pee.  I was freaking pumped.  Then she had a successful poop in the toilet and I went ape shit.  We screamed so loud that I’m shocked the cops didn’t show up at my door.  It felt like I won the lottery.  Actually better.  I can’t even begin to describe the feeling!

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday she continued to pee and poop in her toilet and all on her own.  She would tell me she needed to go and she would pull down her pants/underwear by herself.  I was so proud but skeptical (lol).  I still need to help her wipe (obviously) but omg this was HUGE.  We had ZERO accidents.  I didn’t want to get too excited because the true test is in public.  Will she be able to tell me when she has to go and will we make it to the bathroom in time?  OMG I was so nervous to actually leave the house with her.

Thursday (Day #8), I decided to take her out in the real world.  I was armed with the portable potty in the car, public restroom toilet liners and whole lot of prayer.  Not going to lie, I dread public restrooms even for myself.  I will hold my pee for as long as I can to avoid it.  The thought of having to take her into one just freaks me out.  Kids love to touch everything they aren’t supposed and public restrooms aren’t exactly a fun place to be.  Shockingly she did AMAZING.  We experienced our first public restroom experience and I was so proud of her.  The potty seat covers I used were so helpful because the front drapes pretty far down so when their legs dangle, it doesn’t touch the toilet.  Highly recommend.  Stock up people. LOL

I thought perhaps I got lucky the first time I took her out but we were out the entire day on Friday (Day #9) and she had no accidents.  The portable potty (another option HERE) for the car is a lifesaver.  It’s actually easier than using a public restroom.  Just make sure to have lots of back up bags, hand sanitizer or wipes if you can’t wash your hands.  My cousin uses gloves but she is extreme (lol).  One tip is be careful which bags you buy because not all of them come with little pads (mine does) and some bags will leak.

Mom Hack: Put a diaper or pull ups inside the bowl part of the portable potty for easier clean up.

FYI – this hack will only work on portable potty’s that have a bowl like THIS ONE.  The one I use does not but works just as well.

Nighttime Pull-ups

Milan wears underwear all day until right before bed.  I put pull ups on her for nighttime.  I prefer this brand for diapers and pull ups.  I’ve heard that it can take until they are 5-6 years old to be completely done with pull-ups at night.  So we shall see.  I’m just enjoying this new phase with no diapers or smeared poop.

potty training tips pink toilet toddler girl outfit play room

HELPFUL TIPS TO POTTY TRAINING

  • Be patient.  Do not show your frustration or disappointment if they aren’t getting it or doing the deed in the toilet.
  • Make a HUGE deal out of every single pee or poop as if your life depended on it. Scream, dance, go crazy. They will love it.
  • Reward them with something that they’re excited about.  Some love stickers, toys or candy.  Incentives are key.
  • Do not give up.  No matter what.  Stick with it and do not stop and re-start.  Go all in and don’t turn back.
  • Do not compare your experience to other kids.  Some kids take one day, others take a week, a month etc.  Each child is different and each situation is different.  Don’t beat yourself up if it’s taking longer than you anticipated.
  • Wait until they are ready or show interest.  Starting too early will lead to way more frustration for both you and your child.
  • Talk to them calmly and explain the process.  It’s amazing how well they comprehend things even when they don’t seem like they’re even listening.
  • Pack extra underwear, change of clothes and pull-ups in case of accidents.  They are bound to happen so be prepared.
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Leave a comment!

  1. Omg I’m so nervous to potty train. I still have to get her off the tit as well.
    My little one is 20 months. I purchased this exact toilet to get her used to the idea of it. I also purchased the liners.
    She loves to flush it. She has sat on it then stood up and peed on the floor. Thats the only interactions we have had. I believe it’s too soon to really start.
    For the breastfeeding thing, I plan on trying the bandaids on the boobs as well. She is still teething, so like you, I was gonna wait til more teeth come in before I attempt to stop breastfeeding.
    Thank you for all your tips.

    • Hi Amanda! I was so nervous too which is why I procrastinated so long. LOL I’m actually glad I waited until she was ready. As far as breastfeeding, I didn’t wean Milan off until she was 2.5 and I believe all her teeth had grown in. Hope this helps!

  2. congrats on a new milestone achieved! 🙂

    just a suggestion, in case the cartoon panties irritate your daughter’s skin.
    you can buy printable iron-on paper, and make customized underwear using the organic panties you’ve already purchased.

  3. Annie –

    What a great post! I haven’t had to potty train my child for many years now but its definitely quite the experience. I will definitely share this with my girlfriends who are actually going thru what you are.

    Norra

  4. We had the OXO Tot travel potty and their bags have an absorbent pad inside. Never once worried about leakage! I’m sure they would work with your travel potty, also. Hope this helps!

  5. Oh gosh Annie. I’m sorry you had such a hard time with potty training Milan. I have three daughters and used the How to Potty Train Your Child in Less Than a Day book. It was recommended by another twin mom and was a positive, short experience. It’s all about repetitive positive reinforcement. Not all kids are hard to potty train so it’s likely some of your readers will have a different experience than you did.

    • Thank you for the suggestion! All in all, she was trained in 3 days if you take away the Saturday I left for my photo shoot. 🙂 I just documented every day to show people our journey so it wasn’t as long as it seems ha!

  6. Hi Annie,

    Thanks for the great tips and advice on potty training. I’ve tried the reward with my son as an incentive, but it doesn’t seem to work. I tried to say if you go pee in the potty, I’ll give you one gummy and if you go #2 in the potty, I’ll give you two. His brother is currently in school and I know he wants to go too so I’ve told him if he wants to go to school, he has to use the potty. He’ll say “yes”, but then he’ll just go in his diaper. I’m seriously at a lost.

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