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Potty Training Tips From Moms

7 Potty-Training Tips From Real Moms

Are you longing to say goodbye to diapers but not sure when to start potty-training or how to go about it smoothly? Here to the rescue are the top potty-training tips from readers.

1. Be Patient

The top potty-training advice from many moms is to start only after your child signals her readiness. Usually children begin showing interest between the ages of 2 and 3. Keep an eye out for common clues, such as your child asking questions about the bathroom and toilet, staying dry for longer periods of time (indicating stronger bladder control), wanting to wear "big kid" underwear, or telling you when she's soiled a diaper. These signs of readiness may intensify gradually or, as Wisconsin mom Tracy M. found, appear quite suddenly: "One day she walked up to me, about three months before she turned three, and said, 'Mommy, I want to wear undies.' And since that day she has."

2. Make the Potty Fun

Several readers suggest making a potty chair or toilet seem interesting and nonthreatening. "We bought the potty chair and put it in the living room so he could play with it and sit on it for fun," shared Amy B. Others encouraged making "potty time" fun with special books or toys.


3. Skip Pants

Many moms find bare-bottom playtime can aid in potty-training. Amanda B., a mother of two children, shares: "I have just left her pull-ups off from the time she gets up in the morning." Of course, with this pants-free tactic, accidents are inevitable. To minimize messes, Lucy S. kept her 3-year-old in specific parts of the house while he was potty-training: "I blocked off rooms of the house where it wouldn't be okay to 'have an accident,' and just let him feel when he needed to go and run to the potty . . . after two days of wearing nothing and going when he needed to, he got it."

4. Offer Praise and Prizes

"Praise and prizes go a long way!" asserts Monica B., a mother of four in Wisconsin. "If they do anything, make the BIGGEST fuss you have ever made in your life. Cheer, clap, dance around . . . Make the child feel they have done something wonderful and they'll want to do it again and again." In addition to verbal praise, many readers have successfully used tangible potty-training reward systems involving candy, toys, and sticker charts. Renee H., a mother of two, remembers: "Each time he used the potty we made a huge deal about it and gave him a treat — M&Ms and Smarties worked the best. At first I gave him like six of one or the other; then as time progressed the treats got less and less until he forgot about asking for them all together."

5. Ditch Diapers

"Once you take off those diapers and put on the underwear, never put on the diapers again," recommends Emily M., one of several moms who argue that using diapers or hefty pull-ups after beginning potty-training is confusing for a child. Cecilia B., a mother of three children, also opted for training underwear, believing that training underwear is less comfortable after an accident than pull-ups or diapers and therefore more likely to encourage a child to use the toilet. Other potty-training moms follow a no-diaper policy during the day only, since nighttime potty-training often takes longer to achieve.

6. Ready, Aim . . .

The standing element presents additional challenges for potty-training boys. One trick many moms shared is to toss circle-shaped cereal (like Cheerios) into the toilet and have your son take aim. Brandie H., a mother of two boys, explains: "Get him a stool so he can stand up to pee in the big toilet. Throw a few fruit loops in the toilet. Have dad or an older brother show him how to pee in the toilet to make those fruit loops move around! You'd be surprised how fun that can be for a 3-year-old."

7. S#*! Happens

Just when you think you're done with diapers, your child may regress or have frustratingly inconvenient accidents. Christina H. remembers: "He was fully trained except for at night and then he went back to pooping in his pants. I wanted to scream." The truth is, accidents are a normal and common part of potty-training. "Have patience and expect setbacks," recommends Kelly S. And take comfort in the fact that the potty-training stage is just that: a stage.

Join The Conversation
NancyKollman1404145595 NancyKollman1404145595 3 years

These are great tips! My 2 year old has started taking off her diapers and throwing them away herself, so obviously she is ready. The problem is that the toilet seems like a game to her, so it's a bit frustrating. My now 8 year old daughter was in a daycare that really pushed toilet training, so I didn't have to work as hard at it with her. She was just trained. I hope this gets easier. I would love to eliminate the diaper expense!

AmandaMatheny1395333270 AmandaMatheny1395333270 3 years

My son is 3 and still not potty trained. He'll sit on the toilet but he won't go. I once thought he went when I was looking away, but when I looked I saw he was playing with the toilet water with his hand, yuck! I've heard you should train boys sitting first, then teach them to stand. Either way, he doesn't get it. We tried the underwear only thing for a while, but still all he would do is pee in them and not tell us he had to go or show interest in going. He doesn't pee as often now, indicating the holding his bladder longer, and only uses a couple diapers a day now, but I'm at a loss for what to do! I need to have him potty trained soon because he will be starting Head Start. Any advice would be appreciated!

DaysiRamirez DaysiRamirez 4 years
ok day one lets see how i do with all that i just read.
JessRud JessRud 5 years
Not every kid is ready at 2 or younger. My son is almost 4 and just got potty trained within this last month. Until age 2 they can't tell they have to go to the bathroom. So if you think they're trained before that, no, you are. You're so focused on their bathroom habits, instead of training them, they've trained you. That's why people say, "it will take awhile." Yeah, you're dealing with their accidents and messes until they are actually ready. I am amazed sometimes that people don't understand that. Every child is different, yes, but biologically, until age 2 they don't know when they have to go. Why are we so insistent on training boys to stand up as well? They're just toddlers, they can sit down until they're older. It's not a big deal. I tried charts and treats at age two but he just wasn't ready. He had no desire to wear underwear. He had no desire to sit on the potty. I didn't push him because there's no reason to. I waited until HE was ready, not when I wanted him to be. Too many parents feel pressure and push their kids into it too early. Just because other countries or places may have their children potty trained sooner doesn't mean the children were really ready or wanted to. The parents wanted them to be.
NatalieSchwettman9586 NatalieSchwettman9586 5 years
I've been stressing about this lately b/c my daughter just turned two & I feel pressure from other moms to train her. This article really helps, thanks.
ShaunnaPace ShaunnaPace 5 years
Another good treat to give them for going potty beside m & m's is the gummy fruit snacks. we gave my son and stepson 1 for going pee and 2 for going poop.
I have tried every last one of these and nothing has worked. When people say girls r easier they lie. My lol boy wanted to wear his undies and he caught on in just 3 days! Now my daughter in the hand is being so stubborn and just won't do it. I've bought toys, gave hugs and hi fives the few times she did pee in the toilet, I bought pretty Dora undies and a Dora toilet seat and yet she still fights me. She is 2 and a half and my lil boy was already potty trained at her age. I just refuse to be the parent with a 3 year old in diapers so something has got to give soon! Help me!
ShaleseFuller ShaleseFuller 5 years
LORD need all the help I can get!!!!! Im currently home with him so I am doing the "butt naked" thru the day.. Im also fighting with the bottle.. My son is VERY STUBBORN he went a whole 5hrs without drinking because it was in a cup. I got scared & gave in to the bottle because I thought he would dehydrate, he will be 3 in Dec.... AGGGGGGG!
heatherroberts75255 heatherroberts75255 5 years
Great advice, will attempt the various techniques.
melissahiggins24570 melissahiggins24570 5 years
my daughter just turned 3 this month and we have been working on potty training for a year. but she refuses to poop in the potty. she will go pee every time she has to but that's it. any advice? :()
MarieJayneThickett MarieJayneThickett 5 years
My LO is 2yr 10mth, she has been without nappies for about 4+1/2 mth ,, 2mth at night.. The 1st time she used her potty, well i went into overdrive, i jumped, cheered, danced around with her in my arms, yelling, cheering some more, screaming, jumping, hopping,the whole shabang.. She was in hysterics, i think we both nearly wet ourselves... Seeing a neighbour the next day, She asked if i'd won the Lottery, i said "Better than That.. Amy did Potty wee" And did same when she did 'The Other' LOL
Lola2443588 Lola2443588 5 years
Great tips. I get tired of hearing how babies have been trained by one year or, at the least two years (I have even heard one say she trained hers at two months. I said she trained herself to time it, the child didn't 'learn it'. I believe they will get it once they understand that they won't have to be wet or dirty, which my grand daughter hates!
ShabanaHaq ShabanaHaq 5 years
my daughter is going to be 3 in December. She is potty trained to use the toilet how ever is lazy and pees in her pull ups majority of the time. When she tells me she has to go her diaper is soaking wet already. I use to leave her naked in the house, but she kept peeing on the couch and carpet and blaming the dog for it! I just don't know what to do anymore. She poops in the toilet now, but refuses to actually pee in the toilet. She keeps doing the pee in her diaper. It is so annoying and makes me angry! What should I do? I even bought under wears for her and she peed through them on the furniture and carpet. someone please advise me on what I should do!
ChesleyHall ChesleyHall 5 years
We have done all of the above and my son was potty trained shortly after turning three but since then he will not go AT ALL!! I don't know what is going wrong?!?!
KerriWabler KerriWabler 5 years
most children should be potty trained by age 2. It is a insult to their intelligence to take it past this age. Theses new age doctors that have pushed parents into waiting sooo long is ridiculous!! I have potty trained 48 kids through my daycare. Most children are ready around 15 to 16 months. There is a child doctor who is a columnist that I followed in potty training and he makes a lot of sense. Dr. John Rosemond!! Check him out ladies. He will save you a lot of headaches with potty training and you will have it done in a week to two weeks with consistency!!!
HeatherThomas99873 HeatherThomas99873 5 years
I was wondering if one of the signs of a child being ready is for them to take their diapers off? My son is almost 2 and he takes his pants off and then his diaper almost every day... I know it's a little younger than the article says, but I kinda feel like it's getting close to time to start potty training, what's yall's advice?
StefanieGrupe StefanieGrupe 5 years
It's a ok article, I like this article :
SiaFasuluku SiaFasuluku 6 years
These tips are a life saver cos am dreading to start as I seem to have forgetten the whole since the last baby in the family is now 14yrs old.
MonikaPiecko MonikaPiecko 6 years
I found that using the blue tablets (that turn the water blue in the toilet) helped with my sun, he used to get very exited every time he got to make the water change color from blue to green. And green just so happen to be his fav color
Anastazia19272 Anastazia19272 6 years
its great to just find the much needed help i have been searching for. its encouraging to belong to a circle of well thinking and reasonning mothers.
ChristinPohland ChristinPohland 6 years
@ Danelle Davis: We have the same problem at nighttime. We actually went back to pull ups during the night even though we wake our daughter up to potty. I just know that there are kids they'll sleep so deep they wont feel it coming....! My fear was that if we start with pull ups again she'll have accidents during the day. Nope, it actually works great. She is diaper free during the day (no matter what we do or where we are going) but for nighttime we put on a princess (pull up)! Our daughter is 23 months old I wish she would be out of diapers at all, but it seems like she is one of the deep sleepers!
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