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How Do YOU Potty-Train Your Child?

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Potty Training

If you have a little one in diapers and/or training pants, you likely know that potty-training is in the near future. According to parenting experts, transitioning your toddler from diapers to underwear (completely trained) can take anywhere from three to six months or longer AND the two biggest mistakes parents make when it comes to toilet training are starting too early and putting too much pressure on the child.

Potty Training

Do you agree? With this being said, how do YOU potty-train your child? Do you reward your child? Do you leave your child clothed or naked during the potty-training phase? Do you purchase a special potty seat? Do you keep your child consistently in underwear or do they wear training pants? Any special potty training books or videos that you recommend? Please share! ๐Ÿ˜€


Mary is a senior copywriter with 9+ years in frugal tips & deals. She has a Bachelors in Human Resources Interdisciplinary Studies. Connect with Mary on LinkedIn


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Comments 210

  1. Em

    Patience, and realizing because something worked for one kid doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for another. Our oldest took a long time – our youngest trained herself. With the oldest we tried the three day method (didn’t work), we tried no prizes, we tried prizes (for staying dry), nothing really worked. It just took time and her wanting to stay dry.

    • justme

      I agree with you Em! Both of my kids who are girls were not ready until after they turned 3. I had so many people saying they should have been potty trained before that age but they weren’t ready. My advice to everyone out there who has to potty train would be to wait until they are 100% ready and then it goes fast. You will avoid so much frustration if they are ready. I used the ‘Once Upon a Potty’ Girl Book and just kept reading it to them and they got it. I did take away pull ups so that they actually really felt it when they got wet. If you do like I did keep them on floors where you don’t care with the potty near by. When they did potty I clapped and made the biggest deal out of what a big kid they were.

    • JVK

      I have 4 kiddos…stairs steps I am told…8, 6, 4, and 2. The oldest we started at a fixed date…2 and a half. It went well…but she is text book first born. The second we started a bit earlier because she expressed an interest to “go pee-pee on the potter like” her big sister. She picked it up just as quick, if not quicker, than our fist born. Though she is not the greatest wiper (sorry if this is TMI) because she feels she always has something or someone to keep up with or get back to. Our son, and our 3rd, was by far the most trying. At age four, he STILL didn’t express ANY interest in trying to potty train…by background of feminism probably didn’t help in this matter…I thought, “typical male…just lazy…I’d rather pee in a diaper, pull up, or on the floor…and he did. By four and half, after many days and night of wet EVERYTHING we bought a “pee alarm” on Amazon. 6 months later, and almost 5, he is fully potty trained. The future has yet to be seen with my two year 4 month old…

  2. Pharmchick

    It took my kiddo a while; he was 3 and a half when we started and they helped him in school too. We took him every 30 min which made him frustrated at first but then he got the hang of it. Thankfully it took him just over a week! We stil use a pull up at night but it’s so much better!

  3. shelly

    First we did dum dum suckers then just put him in big boy undies (that he picked out) and let him make accidents. That worked best and fastest.

  4. cookingconfessional

    First and foremost, kid needs to show readiness. But this can be easy to overlook or not act on.

    More importantly, the parents need to be ready. I hate to say this but a lot of parents are lazy (hey I definitely can be) because they don’t want to deal with the mess. We did the 3 day method with my son right around 3 and he was done having nighttime accidents within a few days. Don’t give in and put them in the pull ups. I don’t know anything about bedwetting so I won’t speak to that but for kids without it, around 3 they are developmentally ready to wake up to pee.

    Don’t draw out the process if it isn’t necessary. I can’t speak for all kids but for most, don’t hold your kids back because you don’t want to deal with the mess. Get it over with and be done with the diapers!!! Most kids do not need pull ups!

  5. Katie

    Just wanted to say thanks so much… I received my free gerber formula and it came with a bib and 1-12 month inserts for the bin for pictures!! What a nice surprise ๐Ÿ˜Š

  6. Vivian

    My 3 yr old boy doesn’t even care if he’s in a poop diaper- how do you train that?!! On top of that, he’s a hard headed boy- even his teacher said he is- and she’s been teaching for 19 yrs at this school, so I’m inclined to think she’s seen it all lol

  7. Amanda

    I cringed when I saw this post title as this is such a sensitive subject with so many differing opinions. I have 5 kids and the only words I share with other moms on this subject are keep up the great work! Do whatever works for you and your kid, and I’ll cheer you on ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh and if you need some comic relief, this article is spot on!
    http://www.thehonesttoddler.com/2015/11/potty-training-fantasy-vs-reality.html?m=1

  8. Amy

    Potty scotty training pants worked for my son. I like the 2 in 1 waterproof ones at first then transitioned to the regular ones. I would definitely recommend.

  9. jull

    my daughter has been trained since 1 year and 5 months (17 months). We just took her to the bathroom around every 30 mins, and she got used to it fast, but my son it did take longer to train.

  10. Tammy

    I used the Azrin Foxx Potty training in less than a day method for my last two. With my first we used m&m’s and I preferred not having potty treats/bribes with my last two.

  11. Carla

    I waited until my little one showed signs of being ready at age 3. did a sticker reward chart. Got the stickers from Walmart in the teacher’s section. Frogs/Lilly pads. Took a year from start to completely potty trained.

  12. Beth

    I have worked with children for many years. One of the best methods is to
    Put underwear on first and a pull-up or diaper on next. The children are able to try to stay dry and the only thing that gets wet is underwear instead of pants shoes socks etc. it also works when you are away from home or traveling

    • Allison

      I love you for this comment. My son will wet anything he has on on his lower half but will use the potty if he goes commando. Maybe this will help, worth a try!

  13. Leslie

    I am sure that there are some of you out there frustrated (as I was). My daughter did not do #2 on the potty until she was 4 years 5 months. No Kidding! 2 child psychologists we saw when she was 3 1/2 said it was psychologically normal, although statistically abnormal. In other words, if your child is under 4 1/2, don’t worry…even though it may seem like every kid around you has got the hang of it.

  14. Wana

    I started to potty train my son at 2, and my mom said was too late. My sister, who lives in Europe, potty trained boys kids by the age of 1.
    I let my son walking through the house without pullups or underwear and when an accident happened, I rapidly took him to the potty which was in living room. 2 days and this was it, both number 1 and number 2. With him was super easy. Daytime was asking to go to potty. Still had accidents at night (3 – 4 nights a week) and I used that wet2stop allarm. It worked perfect. Just another week and he was completely potty trained.

  15. Melloddie

    I do believe girls potty train much faster than boys. Don’t know why but def. The case with my 2 boys and little girl. My boys also did the hiding thing which my girl didn’t. I used training pants for my first kid, took forever. For my younger 2 I just put them in underwear. They don’t like the wet feeling, took about 3 days for #1s and less than a week for #2s, but every kid is different so what works better for one might not for another…just keep trying and be patient ๐Ÿ˜Š

  16. MarieV

    All kids are soooo different. I have two boys and from birth I made sure that they never had a wet diaper. I don’t know if that is why, but neither one liked to be wet or poopy. My oldest was fully trained by 1 1/2 and the youngest by 2.. Yes, I still wiped for them, but everything was in the big potty. From the day I put them in underwear, they were in underwear 24/7 and were just fine at night. We did a lot of celebrating and verbal praise. Personally, I am not big on candy or any type of food for rewards. Also, I am a stay-at-home mom. I felt like that helped me. I think it is just as much training for the parents as the kids. A tip I was told was that when they start to wake up from a nap with a dry diaper, their bladders are capable. Then just consider your child’s interest and motivation. You can’t push, them if they are not ready, but you also don’t want to miss that window.

  17. Suzanne H

    I think the biggest key is not making a huge deal out of it. When my son was 2 1/2 we bought him a potty seat. I let him know it was just for him. He sat on it, said, “I not like it” and we let it go. A month later he sat on it and thought it was awesome. He started using it and has had 1 accident in his life. We let him continue with Pulls Ups at night until he was consistently dry (about a year after potty training). He was afraid of public potties for a while so when we went out for long periods of time, we let him use Pull Ups. He got over it some time after his 3rd birthday. The only “problem” we have is that, at 7, he still prefers to sit. I figure peer pressure will take care of it and, in the meantime, that’s one less male peeing on the seat! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. t5ijenn

    I think the key is really timing. If the child isn’t ready, it’s just not going to happen regardless of what you do or reward them with. I started to potty train my son a couple months shy of three years old, and I think that was his sweet spot time, because it went pretty smooth. I did a lot of reading and research. Let him pick out what special big boy underwear he wanted. Printed out a giant potty progress chart that I found on Pinterest and let him pick out stickers to fill up the chart with (one for pee and two for poo). We did also reward with M&Ms, same amount as the stickers. The first day or two I let him run around the house pantless but wearing his new underwear and didn’t make a big deal when he had an accident. In about a month and a half he was pretty much entirely day time potty trained. He just turned four and we ditched his night time diaper (which he’s been waking up dry in for quite some time) and he’s been doing great. No bed wetting accidents yet; he always gets up when he has to pee during the night or early morning. Every kid is going to be different and have their own timeline, but this was just our experience. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  19. Shannon

    I can not wait. My last one just turned 3 and is still in diapers. She has been using the potty since she was one but she never tells me when she needs to go and she won’t go on her own. I’m such a lazy mom tho that I would rather let her do it when she is ready than spend all day cleaning accidents off the carpet and my couch! I thought girls were supposed to be easier than boys? Lol

  20. Tammy

    My first was 11 months when she was fully 100% potty trained and my second was 18 months. My first one had horrible allergic reactions to every kind of diaper we would try. She would break out with horrible rashes. It broke my heart to see her with a rash, so this one day I got cute little panties and put them on her. I told her if she could keep them dry we would keep them on all day. I set the alarm for every 30 minutes and would take her to the bathroom. Then I would turn the water tap on, put her fingers under the water to get her fingers a little wet. Then put her on her potty chair. The first couple of times she just sat there,but the third time she tinkled just a bit and I really praised her and told her she got to keep her big panties on. I even stood her in front of the mirror so she could see them. I continued to set the alarm and take her to the potty and praised her every time she would have a little tinkle which became fairly often because she was happy to keep mommy happy. I only put a diaper on her at night. After 3 days of this she was totally potty trained. I even had her in a diaper survey service (which supplied all of my diapers to me for free) where they would examine the baby and the diapers she had used that week that I had to bow out of early because she was totally potty trained and they were like what?!?! I think the fact that her little bottom felt better in the panties probably had a lot to do with her training so quickly. I didn’t start with my second one quite that early but I used the same method and she trained very quickly as well. My main thing I think worked was setting the timer. They tend to get occupied with what they were doing and did not pay attention.

    I agree with other commenters though — every child is going to be different to a certain degree. I was working a regular job with my second child which is why it took me a little longer to get her potty trained. However, without the motivation of the rash I don’t know if she would have trained as early as my first one did anyway.

  21. Samantha

    I actually started today! My 16 mo. Old son was done with lunch and went to the bathroom door and started knocking and saying potty. So I put him on and he peed and pooped! Pretty ecstatic mommy right here considering I have a 3 mo. Old also, diapers are an expense I wouldn’t mind cutting out asap! Lol no pressure though, my little tike wants to learn now haha

  22. Sarah

    My son is 3 and refuses to potty train. He yells “nooooooo” whenever I ask him to sit on the potty. I’m not going to push him to use the potty, but it would be so nice if he were somewhat interested!

    • Beth

      I always told my kids that ” the clock says it is time to go potty”. They always looked at the clock and didn’t say no

  23. Sharon

    I’ve heard and go by this little trick, if their diaper stays dry all night, it’s a good sign they are ready.

  24. Emily's Momma

    We used the “See Me Go Potty” app on the iPad. It’s a very repetitive video and is kind of gross but makes you laugh at the same time. My daughter would sit on the potty and watch the video over and over and over and over again. If she went, she would run out saying I DID IT, just like the video says. She does have Down Syndrome so she was late on potty training (5 years old) but she caught on very quick..:-)

  25. MP

    I don’t push potty training on my kids. They just do it when they’re ready. It took until 3 years old for my son but my daughter was completely potty trained by 14 months with no accidents ever since. That is, without my input! Btw my son is 7 years old now & still would have an occasional accident at night. My daughter never did. Each child is unique & I try to be understanding & encouraging.

  26. Haley

    I used fruitloops in the potty and kept the diaper off so I could see when he had to go didn’t really make a big deal out of it or let him know he was going to start using the potty. Then said “hey Nolan you wanna pee on cereal?” He was potty trained so fast same for bm I said “hey if you need to poop it might be fun to poop on cereal and he agreed” He was 2.5 and potty train in a week or less I was super impressed.. All children are different of course.

  27. Renee

    3 day method worked wonders for us. It’s mainly about picking up on their cues of when they need to go and they start to realize when their body is telling them they need to go. Wish I had done it with my first instead of dragging out the process for over a year!

  28. Mary

    What about bottles? Im having a really hard time with my baby. Sorry guys totally off potty train subjut but my little one is turning two in a couple of months.

    • Sara U

      Cold turkey. It will really suck for a few days but it’s the only way.

    • Zanne

      For my daughter I took the bottle completely away when she turned one. She never looked back. Now my son is the baby and he is 15 months and I need to take it away..he probably will be fine, I might not. Haha

    • Adrian

      I agree with Zanne, taking the bottle away is usually harder on the parents than the kid. Cold turkey at 1 worked with all of mine. Talked about it with them leading up to their first birthday. Sure, they throw fits but that never lasts long. Throwing fits never gets them far in my household.

  29. Rose

    My problem is night training both my kids 5 & 3 have been trained in the day since 2 but still wear pull ups at night. Any suggestions?

  30. Zanne

    I introduced the potty to my daughter before she turned a year (around 6-7 months)and she would go if I put her on it. By the time she was big enough to tell me she had to go, she already knew what the potty was for and was completely in big girl panties at 18 months. No accidents. Never used a pull-up. Not saying this is easy. It requires a lot of work for mommy. I took her every few hrs and I got up during the night to take her potty until she was able to go through the night. I have been doing the same for my son. I introduced the potty to him and he will stand and peepee since before he was one. He is 15 months now and he gets ready in a few months and can tell me he has to go, hopefully he will loose the diapers like his sister did! They have to be ready but I think you can introduce the potty at a much younger age than people do so they can get used to it.

    • Zanne

      Oh and for travel, a potty seat rides in the backseat of my car. Sure beats public restrooms.

  31. Kelly A.

    With both of my girls, we went cold turkey during the day. I explained to them, at around two years old, that we were going to put on panties and use the potty. I honestly only had a handful of #1 accidents with both of my girls. They don’t like the feeling of wetting themselves and start using the potty really quickly.

  32. Gretchen

    My kids refused. My oldest was 4, and after several attempts (and the shocking realization that I was about to have 3 kids in diapers) We did the 3 day method. It only took one day. started at 8am, let her wear undies instead of a diaper, and by 5 pm she had it! Fyi the first day after that she went potty about every 5 minutes. It took her a while to learn to hold it and let it all out at once – I was really concerned at first, but she got it. What she didn’t get was pooping in the potty. It took another 5 days – and for that I had to bribe her with ice cream for breakfast (which she proudly stood up and announced to the entire storytime group at the library) I was so embarrased, but than a lot of moms patted me on the back cause it worked ๐Ÿ˜€

    My biggest mistake was going over board on potty tools. I really wish my kids wern’t so dependent on the potty seats – they really don’t need them, they can get on and off the potty just fine, and most the places we go have kid potties anyway. Also, all the dvds and books were nice, but they just did’t encourage them, only feeling wet and wanting to be clean really encouraged them. And, lastly, the one thing I abhor the most is training diapers with beloved characters. I think they prolonged their desire to go potty more than anything. WHo wants to wear big kid undies and go potty in the potty when you have Sofia the 1st pull up diapers that someone will change for you?

  33. Kristine

    Keep up the good work mamas. It’s tough. Once our daughter was interested in the potty we had to pay attention to her cues. And prizes worked for us (stickers, coloring books, socks)Don’t get discouraged when other parents brag their kids are getting potty trained a 1 year old. And what I’ve learned is people say their kids are potty trained when they only use it part time. Good luck and stick with it, our kiddos are worth it.

  34. Just Me

    Call grandma hahahahahah

  35. Queenjen87

    I used gummy vitamins as potty rewards at home haha. Just had to limit to 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening. (First and last). Worked great. She was already holding overnight. And she ate her vitamins lol.

  36. Deanna

    I waited until my daughter was ready. I would ask her periodically and she had no interest. Just before age 3, she wanted a boggle game and I told her that she wasn’t big enough (not being mean, just thinking it would be boring since she didn’t know how to spell). She asked if she’d be big enough if she used the big potty so I said sure lol. She trained instantly and went to daycare 2 days later not even sleeping in diapers. Obviously, her body was ready before that point, but I never had to deal with accidents and constantly asking if she needed to go. When u have to remind/ask your kid every hour to go or they’ll have an accident, they’re not really trained. And yes, I bought her the boggle game ๐Ÿ˜‰

  37. Mainey

    I started my grandchild at one. I used a timer and she went ever five mins and I decreased it as she began to get the hang of it. I used underwear unless I traveling a long distance. I only gave her a treat her first time. I didn’t continue it because then when they are with someone else who can’t do that and that’s what they expect, then they might start all over.

    • Mainey

      I did a potty seat too.

  38. Angela

    Wait until they show interest and go all out. Put the potty wherever you and your child are. I tried too early with my first son and he had issues going #2 for a year.

  39. Kimberly

    I tried to potty train my daughter at 23 months but she wasn’t ready. 2 months later she was and it made a world of difference!!! We’ve never used pull ups during the day, only for naps & bedtime. (At 3 is when she no longer needed one for naptime.) I also took away all of the diapers at 25 months and she’s never worn them since. We also did prizes & a sticker chart in the beginning as well as a potty seat.

  40. Gtfint

    Can somebody give advice on night time? My daughter is daytime potty trained. She is 4 and hasn’t had an accident in a long time. I still put pull ups on her at night. Sometimes she wakes up dry and sometimes wet. I’m not really doing anything to night time train her. Guess I just thought when she starts waking up dry all the time she’s ready for underwear at night. Should I be trying to “train” her by waking her up or just give her more time.

    • Erin

      My three year old daughter woke up with a soaking wet diaper every morning, so I thought it would be a disaster taking away her diapers, but after a couple rough nights of changing her and her bed several times during the night, she started waking up dry. It was amazing! So your daughter might surprise you too.

  41. Gina Butler

    “Potty train your child in just one day” by Teri Crane was a great resource for me. I took what worked for us, but essentially you throw a potty party! It was a really fun day for us and she really enjoyed learning, but make sure they are ready by using the checklist in the front of the book.
    Best of luck- it is a blink in parenting and you will make it through

  42. cindy

    Hi my kids are much older (15,19,21). I remember the pediatrician asking “any difficulties with potty traing?” I said no, not really. He said “that’s good – you probably didnt make an issue out of it.” I didn’t, i waited til they seemed ready. However, i think it is really really important that the kids do not become so stressed that they “hold it” and develop problems with constipation or urinary tract infections. Those are no fun and bad habits can be hard to correct. Hth

  43. KM

    It’s disturbing to hear so many say to wait until they are ready. What a shame. I have four children and all were through the night by 2 years old. All you do is stay home for a few days and they wear underwear all day. Stack up clean underwear and pants and do some heavy laundry duty for a few days. You clean the mess and sit them on the potty. Go back over the course of humans and its unheard of for children to be as old as 3 without disorders that need diapers or cloths. Let’s face it… The diapers we have today have only been around for a few decades. Babies don’t know what it feels like to go. The diapers soak it right up. Before the last few decades every child was ready because they knew what it felt like to wet and poo on themselves. So tired of the attitudes that children tell us what to do. If that was the case they should be eating candy and chocolate for every meal too. I feel sorry for parents who Iive according to every whim of their children. No such thing as when they are ready….That’s the parents excuse for not putting in the hard work. Every one of my 4 was a different story but I guided them and did the hard work and ready or not I have potty trained kids.

    • Adrian

      It’s also disturbing to hear someone tell someone else how to parent. I’m not saying how you feel is wrong, but dont push your beliefs on anyone else. Everyone deals with their kids differently. All children are different and what works for your kid might not work for mine and vice versa.

    • Kayla

      This post is not to bash or place shame on parents who let there children tell them when there ready. If that’s not how you did it, fine. Offer your advice and move on. No need to tell people “what a shame” and they they are letting their children dictate there lives.

  44. twinmama9

    Does anybody have a bed alarm that they don’t want? We would love to have one but they are expensive. We could pay you for shipping.

  45. kcmiami88

    I am letting my son do it as he feels comfortable. So now hes 2.5 and is doing awesome… He sometimes goes weeks without having diaper on or having an accident. So far he has refused to wear underwear though which im ok with for now, and he has never really used his baby potty seat, rather he likes to go in the toilet. Also i have never done rewards, rather i just give him encouragement and praise, and i NEVER push him.

    I truly believe children will do it as their ready they just need us there to encourage them and read the “signs” so that we know how to help them or when to step back.

  46. Kb

    Start around 3 years old and just take it slow. I have done it earlier with older kids and the 3 year old mark has been much less stressful!! I use pullups at first, then transition to underwear. No pottychair for them to go in, we just use the seat that goes on the normal toilet. Prizes at first for going along with a lot of praise.

  47. Adrian

    I have 6 kids. My eldest was 2 when I started trying with him in the regular toilet. I tried pull ups and that didn’t work. He would constantly go in them. I bought him some big boy underwear and he basically did it on his own. He didn’t want to dirty his toy story underwear because then he would have to take them off. He LOVED them! He had a few accidents when he didn’t get to the bathroom in time, but he learned. When my second came along, he learned from watching the oldest. All the other little ones learned at about 2 from watching the older ones. I had no issues. I just bought them big boy underwear and they picked it up quick. The one thing I made sure they learned was to always go or try to go before we went out anywhere. Now, when I say we’re going somewhere they all head to the bathrooms before heading to the car. I love that habit!

  48. juli

    This is perfect for me, I’m desperately needing help. I have four children and my youngest is four. The other 3 are boys and I didnt have much trouble with potty training. this is embarrassing but she will be 5 in May and she has only pooped in the potty twice. I have tired every single thing under the sun ๐Ÿ™ She is a stay at home child since she is the youngest so I’m trying to get her in a preschool soon and hoping that will try. I think I pushed her to hard. I started at 17 months and she potty once and it scared her that she didn’t try again for a year. Does anyone suggestions? Im scared she wont go before she starts kindergarten. Currently she says shes to scared to go so shell put a pull up on and poop. She pees just fine. I feel totally to blame but I know she has to poop in the potty. ๐Ÿ™

    • Adrian

      Maybe try having her watch you go(if she doesn’t already) and run out(or let her think you did) of pull ups. She will have no choice but to wear big girl underwear. I would try underwear with her favorite characters on them. Those underwear worked for my eldest. Good luck!

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