Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ten Tips and Tricks for Potty Training

I want to start this off by saying that I am by no means a potty training expert. I have not even read any books on potty training so this really is just what worked for us. And honestly, Race and I mostly just attribute Holland being potty trained to her little genius-ness. Haha. We are her parents though so of course we think that!

Anyway, here's a quick rundown of some of the things that I think really helped us:

1. Get your child comfortable around the toilet.
For us this meant introducing Holland to the potty months ago. I have never been weirded out by having Holland in the bathroom with me so she has seen me going to the bathroom for a long time. Around 16 months she started expressing some interest in sitting on the toilet. At the time we didn't have a potty seat so I would just help her sit on the toilet for a couple of minutes at a time. She didn't ever actually go but since she was expressing interest in the potty I decided to run with it and spend the money on a potty seat for her. I ended up getting the two below from Amazon. One for on the toilet and one for everywhere else. They are so cheap that it was affordable to buy both--thank goodness! Once we had these little potties I would have Holland sit on the toilet multiple times a week {sometimes multiple times a day if she wanted to} just to get her used to it. I made sure to always make it a fun thing and not pressure her to go or anything. Usually we would just hang out and read books for a few minutes. She only actually went to the bathroom a couple of times over the next few months but she was never scared of the potty so I called it a success and left it at that!

2. Decide on a good time for your child/your family
We had thought about potty training Holland ever since she first started showing interest in it in December but ultimately ended up deciding not to before we had Irelyn though because I had heard so much about children regressing when a new baby comes home. I knew I would not want to deal with that so I just kept things at the "getting comfortable with the potty" stage for quite a while. Once we started getting comfortable as a family of four I started to think about potty training again but then we ended up traveling/having family in town for about a month so I put it off again. I think that finding a good time where you're not going to be adding potty training to other possible life stresses is important as you really don't want potty training to be a stressful thing for you or for your child. This timing can be totally different for every family though.

3. Make sure your child can communicate well.
As far as communication goes I just think that it's important that your child can communicate with you when they need to go. What I mean by this is not necessarily that they are already communicating it but more that they talk enough {or sign enough} that they are able to communicate it {use words like pee pee, poo poo, potty, etc.} and are able to answer you when you ask them if they need to use the potty. Holland was not communicating when she was going to the bathroom before we started potty training. However, she is really great at talking {another post for another time--I really want to brag about her talking skills sometime. Is that ridiculous??} and my mom had mentioned that it might help her potty train quickly whenever we decided to try. I really think that it did help because as soon as we got started and she began to recognize when she needed to go she was easily able to communicate that with us.

4. Leggings/Underwear
We had a friend tell us to put Holland in underwear and leggings as we started potty training her. That way she would be able to recognize when she wet herself but it would soak up in the leggings before pooling all over the floor/furniture. I would only recommend this if you have LOTS of leggings and underwear. Luckily we did so this worked out great for us {be prepared to do a lot of laundry those first few days}! The first couple of days of potty training we went through tons of underwear and leggings but by about day three she was figuring it out and having almost no accidents.

5. Set a time period to work on potty training.
So I don't know if this is super good advice or anything but I set a time period for how long I was willing to give potty training a go. I said I would give it one week. Setting a time limit helped me to not stress about whether or not it actually worked. I knew that I would be doing a lot of laundry for the next week but there was an end point if it wasn't going well. I knew that if I got stressed then Holland would get stressed as well and I really didn't want going to the bathroom to be a stressful thing for her. Luckily, Holland was potty trained within the week so that was super exciting!

6. Ask your child if they need to go to the bathroom...A LOT.
So this one is pretty straight forward. Ask them if they need to go again and again and again. I try not to force Holland to go but I still ask her a lot just so that she's thinking about it. Toddlers are easily distracted so doing anything {eating meals, playing, watching a show, etc.} can cause them to forget about going to the bathroom. The bulk of Holland's accidents happen while she's eating or drawing at the table. So I just ask her if she needs to go all the time and eventually she says yes if she hasn't already told me she needs to go.

7. Rewards/Celebrations
As far as rewarding Holland we just did little potty treats. When we started potty training all we had in the house was the end of a bag of marshmallows. So now marshmallows are her potty treat. In the beginning every time she went to the bathroom she would get a marshmallow and we would clap/give hugs and kisses/cheer/do a little celebration dance just to remind her how proud we were of her and to keep this whole potty training thing exciting. Now she gets a treat when she remembers and asks for it and we still cheer for her because we think she's pretty awesome! I don't think Holland is quite to the age where we are able to explain to her that once she's potty trained she'll get a new toy so we didn't even bother with anything larger than marshmallows. Which works for our budget so yay!!

8. Stay at Home!
We stayed at home for the first few days of potty training just so we weren't adding the stress of having an accident out of the house. We also did this so we could solely focus on potty training. We started over a weekend which was nice because it meant I had Race's help changing all the peed clothes and doing the laundry. By the time the weekend was over Holland was starting to get the hang of things so the following week wasn't too bad! Also, try to make the time at home fun. Not getting out of the house as much can make everyone feel a little antsy so make sure you have lots of fun activities to do. And of course go on a walk around the neighborhood or whatever. I mostly just mean don't try and do any big family outings.

9. Bring a Potty with you EVERYWHERE!
Once you do start leaving the house bring your portable potty with you everywhere. Public restrooms are sometimes hard to locate when you need them, they are kind of scary for little kids, and they are definitely gross. So just bring your potty in your car and have your child go before you go into the store {and/or before you leave the house} and then before you load them back into the car. We also have Holland wear pull-ups when we leave the house just as an extra precaution. She usually doesn't pee in them though and we have her change back into underwear as soon as we get home and then just re-use the pull-up for our next outing.

10. Don't Stress/Make it Exciting!
I've mentioned this a few times above but this is a big one to me.  I didn't want Holland to feel at all like we were forcing this on her or disappointed in her when she had an accident so I worked really hard on not getting stressed throughout this process. Show excitement every time they make it to the potty/tell you they need to go and when they do have an accident you can have them help you clean it up and talk to them about trying to make it to the potty next time but try not to show anger or disappointment. They are still young and they will get it eventually! I think potty training can be such a fun and exciting time for our little ones but not if we make it stressful. So good luck potty training and don't stress too much!

I hope this information helps someone out there! Who knows if it lines up with any books/legit parenting information out there but it's what worked for us. Holland has yet to be night time potty trained though so if anyone has any tips and tricks on that let me know! I'm all ears!

And just for fun here are some links to some super cute little girls' underwear. I want to buy ALL the underwear now!

The top three are ones Holland has. Find them here, here, and here
{They are all super soft and comfy fabrics! The boy shorts are nice for under dresses just to give a little bit more coverage}

The bottom three are on my underwear wish list for Holland. 
{She wants tons of underwear for her second birthday, right?? Haha.}
Find them here, here, and here.


  1. Great tips! I haven't really read anything on potty training either but this is pretty much EXACTLY what has been working for Owen. He's not fully potty trained yet, but I'm hoping to be there by his 2nd birthday! Honestly, I never thought we'd be here so early. Sometimes I refer to him as the kid who potty trained himself because it seems like all I had to do was buy a potty chair and provide peanut butter m&ms and he was ready to go! Ha! Also, I totally agree about little underwear. There's nothing cuter than a toddler bum in undies!

  2. I happy for you that you're past that milestone! She really is the best little talker an I'm sure that has helped so much. Ava was so interested but just isn't answering yes/no to me very well yet so asking her if she had to go was hard.

  3. Zoe isn't even in the potty training stage yet , but already has a drawer full of undies. I'm sure she doesn't need anymore , but gosh how I want those bottom three you posted for her!!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing, we plan to put this to use very soon, I believe Ella is ready. :) thanks again!