Potty training (or potty learning) is a major developmental milestone in your child’s life. For most parents, it’s also an exhausting nightmare. Between picking the method you want to use (sticker charts, verbal praise, candy incentives etc.) to gathering all the supplies (pull ups, underwear, potty seat, travel accessories, and so on), it’s enough to make you want to cry before you even start. Not to mention the extra laundry you’ll be doing from accidents and not-so-accidental accidents!
And the worst part? No matter what course you choose, there’s bound to be hiccups along the way. Honestly, after two decades of helping daycare kids (and my own kids) with potty training, there is no one perfect method for every child. Some kids have to be naked to connect the urge to go with actually going. Other children might need to have a “special” pair of Big Kid undies to prevent little accidents. So while I can’t offer you a perfect method, I can offer you some potty training tips that’ll make those frequent visits to the porcelain throne a little easier to manage.
**A small disclaimer. If at all possible, I highly recommend starting the process in spring or summer. Having a child in shorts, just a shirt, or (like mentioned above) au natural can make the process easier. That being said – it’s winter, and my toddler is in the midst of mastering her bladder. So don’t fret if you’re starting now, too.**
5 Potty Training Tips
#1 – Get a super fun egg timer
Yes, you can set the alarm on your oven or your phone. But having an egg timer shaped like a penguin that sounds the pee pee alarm is just WAY more fun!
#2 – Make every trip to the bathroom fun.
Whether your waltzing, hopping like frog, or riding your cozy cope car down the hall, enjoy the trip. Make it a pee pee party (#holla). It’ll also help make those unplanned sprints to the toilet (as urine runs down your toddler’s leg) far less desirable for everyone involved. Hopefully urging your little learner in the right direction in a positive and fun way.
#3 – Have activities in the bathroom for potty time.
I’m a firm believer in trying often over sitting all day. But sometimes, you’ve “tried” four times in an hour and you know dang well your toddler has to go. I mean she’s already downed three sippy cups for crying out loud! What is she, a camel? In these moments, it’s good to have a little stack of activities to keep reluctant booties seated. We bought a wipeable lap tray made for the car and filled it with goodies. A coloring book, crayons, books to read (again wipeable – it is a bathroom after all), and an old iPhone. The tray prevents her from dropping things in the toilet and made waiting for poop far more manageable.
#4 – Keep your kiddo’s legs warm with baby leg warmers.
No matter if you choose to use a potty chair or one that sits on top of an actual toilet, waiting on poop is a hassle. And because it’s a much bigger hurdle for most kids to poop on the potty vs. peeing, the waiting game can leave dangling little legs cold. Because of this, I suggest grabbing a few pairs of baby leg warmers. Not only are they absolutely adorable, they’ll keep your kiddo toasty too. It’s also a nice work around for ditching pants or potty training naked in the winter.
#5 – Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.
Like I mentioned before – this is a BIG deal. It’s an enormous change physically and emotionally for your child. So my best advice is to make sure that you’re ready when they’re ready. Don’t just start on a whim. Think about any upcoming trips or changes. Talk to your caregiver (if you have one), and make sure they’re on board. Having a plan before you take the inaugural trip to Target to pick out fancy new undies is key.
Taking the time to plan ahead can really be beneficial to your child’s success. If that means waiting, then wait. There isn’t a right or wrong age to start potty training. There’s only what’s best for you and your child.