Time to Start Potty Training

MOPS Content Team

Do you feel like it’s time to start potty training? If so, it can be overwhelming to know where and when to start. Here are a few tried and true methods to get your little one out of diapers and on to the potty.  

The Three-Day Training Method: This method is ideal if you need to have your child potty-trained quickly. For best results, pick a three-day span where you can stay home for the majority of the time (a long weekend or a holiday break work well). On day one, put your child in underwear and only go back to diapers or pull-ups for sleeping. Without the absorption that a diaper provides, your child will begin to feel the sensation of wet underpants when they have an accident and will gain an awareness of needing to go to the toilet.  

When your child begins to go in their pants, quickly and calmly run them to the potty. Eventually, they will begin to associate the sensation of needing to go with the bathroom. It may help to use a timer so that you can remind your child to use the bathroom often to give yourself more teaching moments. When your child does use the bathroom successfully, praise and/or reward them. Due to the highly focused nature of this method, results can be quick in coming, but remember, it requires patience, positivity and a lot of attention.  

 The Naked Method: This method is ideal for potty-training in the summer or for families who live in warmer climates. If this is your method of choice, take your little one outside sans pants, underwear or diapers. Let them run around and play. Eventually, they will need to go, and this is good news. They will see and feel their body do what it does and will gain awareness of their need to use the bathroom. Eventually, once they understand what peeing and pooping are, you can begin to transition them into underwear and the toilet. Although this method might not provide the quickest results, it has the benefit of keeping your floors and laundry clean and is nice if you aren’t in any rush.  

Child-Led Potty Training: If you aren’t in any particular rush to potty train and would like to follow your child’s lead, this method might work well for you. It can be utilized as soon as your child shows interest in using the bathroom. Parents can allow children to take the lead in initiating bathroom trips while still utilizing diapers or pull-ups for as long as necessary. If your child says they need or want to use the potty, take them. If they say they don’t, don’t rush them. The purpose of this method is to allow your child to take the lead. This method doesn’t rely on timers or schedules but instead embraces the idea that once a child begins to recognize their need to use the bathroom, they will eventually learn while parents support them in that.  

Here are a few other helpful hints that can be paired well with any method you choose. 

  • Prizes and praise work wonders! Whether it’s stickers, candy or extra screen time or playtime before bed, kids respond well to rewards and celebrations. Make a big deal of every win. 
  • Get others on board. Let your friends and family know you’re potty training and get them in on the process. When your child successfully uses the bathroom, let them call or video chat with a family member or friend. Make sure that the person you are calling knows to make a big deal about your child’s success, and watch as your little one lights up at the praises of those they love. 
  • Hydration is key! The more your child drinks, the more opportunity they’ll have to practice using the bathroom. Plan for lots of snacks and drinks to maximize your teaching moments.  

These are only a few methods and tips to choose from when potty training, but remember, there’s no right or wrong way. You know your child and yourself best, so be confident in what you feel is right for you and your family. 

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