Potty training can be one of the most stressful parenting adventures when your child is young. It is the great transition from diapers to underwear with some hiccups in between. Everyone’s adventure is different, some easier than others, but we all have the same goal in mind to have our child potty trained!

I want to start by saying we did not potty train in 3 days, we did not potty train in one week. I have worked in early childhood for 6 years and I have seen this “method” work for some toddlers (usually a lot older than Baby T is), but I do not think it is a realistic goal for most families.

How to Know if Your Child is Ready to Potty Train

The easiest way to know if your child is ready for potty training is if they are interested in the potty. Any interest in the potty is reason enough to start the journey. It is always easier to help a child do something they are excited about versus something you are forcing them to do. Around 18 months is when a child’s body is usually capable of potty training. This means their body has learned to hold pee or poop for certain periods of time. A sign of this is if your child has a dry diaper for an extensive amount of time. If they wake up from their nap and their diaper is still dry then their bodies are able to learn to go on the potty.

The “Method” We Used

Our Potty Training Journey

I knew before starting to potty train there were a couple things I wanted to stick to. I always wanted the bathroom/potty to be a positive experience. Positive reinforcement is so important when it comes to potty training and that was my number one goal going into this. I did not want it to become a battle or me forcing my crying daughter to sit on the potty. Also, I didn’t want to provide a potty chart with stickers or treats as rewards. I really wanted Baby T to go potty because she wanted to and not for any other reason.

Early Exposure

Though we didn’t start potty training Baby T at 12 months, that was her first experience with the potty. We had a mini potty in our restroom and she would sit on it while we (her dad or I) went to the bathroom. She was very interested in what we were doing and I wanted to take advantage of that excitement in case it went away. It didn’t take her long to pee on her potty and at about 13 months she was pooping on her potty as well. Whenever she asked to go to the potty I would put her on it even though I don’t think she really understood it yet. This went on for a couple of months. I call them the “exploration months”.

We created a habit where she would sit on the potty when she first woke up and before going to bed. During these exploration months I did not pressure her to use the bathroom, but I would ask her if she wanted to and sometimes she would mention it on her own. I cheered every time she did something on the potty and the bathroom was a positive area. I think that this early understanding of the potty really helped us later on.

We set a personal goal that at 18 months we would officially start seriously potty training. Like with practically every other transition, Baby T made the decision to start potty training before I did. One day she woke up (17 months old) and decided she didn’t want to wear diapers anymore. She took advantage of any chance she could to remove her diaper. After she had removed her diaper multiple times over a couple of days, we went to the store and bought underwear!

The Official Beginning of Potty Training

Potty training officially started. In the beginning, it was far more effort from me then it was from Baby T. We had a small potty chair and a seat cover, Baby T had the option of which one she would like to use each time. This gave her the freedom of choice when it came to the potty. I started by setting a “potty timer” that would go off every 15-30 minutes depending on when she was eating and drinking. If she didn’t use the potty while she was on it and told me she was all done I would reset the timer for 5 minutes to try again.

The bathroom also became a “potty” only location. If she went into the bathroom I assumed that meant she needed to use the potty. During the first week she was in underwear fully at home and would wear a diaper when we went out in public. She had a few accidents, but along with every accident came a learning/teach opportunity. She would help me clean up her accidents, put her dirty clothes in the laundry and we would talk about pee/poop belonging in the potty.

Week two started and her pee accidents began to lessen, but this is when her poop accidents began to start. This was probably the worst week of potty training. I can handle pee but poop is pretty gross. Baby T would go hide when she needed to poop instead of going on the potty. I began to give her alone time on the potty because it was obvious that she liked to poop in private. Week three went much smoother and I began taking her out in public in her underwear. She still has yet to have an accident in public which is amazing. When in public we always use the bathroom at least once ever hour. By week four we were done using the timer and the poop accidents had fully stopped!

Baby T is now 20 months old and I would consider her “fully” potty trained. She still wears a diaper during her nap and at night, but during all of her awake time she is in underwear. Accidents still happen occasionally but they are few and far between. We are still reminding her to use the restroom and helping her along the way.

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7 Responses

  1. Awesome tips! We make the bathroom a positive environment too. Patience really is the key. I really love how you put no 3-day plan, no pressure.

  2. Yaayyy another person like me who understands that children can go to the potty even when they are little. I don’t understand why people wait so long to potty train! Kids are incredibly smart and it’s such a relief not changing diapers. Saves money too. It’s very important to make the child help clean up! Most parents done do this. Love it. My oldest was potty trained at 2 and a half but then with my second, I learned from the first that kids are super capable and potty trained my youngest at 20 months.

    1. I think it can be a really intimidating part of early parenting. You are so right, kids are incredibly smart! My daughter has pushed me to challenge her way sooner then I thought I would need to with so many thing. I really love the way we potty trained and definitely plan on starting my future children early as well. Early exploration and excitement from your child are the best tools!

  3. Sounds like you found a great method that worked for you! We potty trained our daughter in 3 days when she was 20 months old. Lots of positive reinforcement and consistency which helped a ton. But we didn’t take her to the bathroom every x minutes. I brought her only when she had to go which helps them make the association between the feeling of having to pee and actually going to the bathroom to go pee. Whereas taking them every 5-15 minutes when they don’t have to go just becomes a huge chore and extends the whole process. But we too went straight to underwear with her. She helped me pack up her diapers and we donated them all to a women’s shelter in our area. I think doing this really helped us all stay focused and consistent during the whole process.

    1. It’s so nice when you find what works for you and your family! I love the idea of donating your extra diapers and getting your daughter involved. ❤️

  4. This was a really helpful read! My daughter is going on 17 months and I really think she understands that she has to go. I had felt like she’s still to young to try potty training so I haven’t given it a ton of thought, but hearing your experience I can see it could be worth a shot!

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