I Potty Trained My Daughter In Only Three Days

With just a few minor hiccups, my daughter went from bathroom beginner to potty pro

My daughter recently turned two. I always planned to potty train her when she turned two but decided to wait for the summer when I was off, which was only eight weeks after her second birthday. My little girl had other plans.

She had been showing signs she was ready to potty train; pulling at her diaper and wanting it off, telling me when she would pee or poop in her diaper. I thought making her wait eight more weeks until I was ready wouldn’t be fair to her. So we picked a day to start that week.

Leading up to that day I was nervous but confident we could do it. The day before ‘The Big Day’ we stocked up on all the necessities: special ‘big girl’ underwear (21 pairs, in anticipation of accidents—maybe I went a bit overboard here!), wipes, a special jar with chocolate chips to keep in the bathroom (a reward for using the potty), paper towels and disinfectant. I also moved all diapering items, diapers, cream, wipes, changing mat etc. from her bedroom into the bathroom because the bathroom was where she would now do all of her potty business.

Day 1

The Big Day, the “My Baby Wears Underwear From Now On" day arrived. I felt sad that this was yet another milestone that would move her further away from being a baby, but excited for the next chapter. As soon as she woke, I put underwear on her for the first time. She liked it but almost immediately had an accident. We changed into a fresh pair of underwear and kept going. I took her to the bathroom to sit on the potty every 30-45 minutes. I was on edge all day but kept reminding myself to relax, accidents happen. She had two successes (we called her grandparents for even more praise) and four accidents that day. When she had an accident, I would say “Next time, let’s keep our underwear dry!” It was a successful first day, and all in all, way better than I had anticipated.

Day 2

The next day, upon waking I put her on the potty. She refused to go and was upset, so I didn’t push, but still, to be consistent, put underwear on her. I knew I HAD to remain consistent in my approach—she needed me to be consistent. Throughout the day she had one pee on the potty and got one chocolate chip. Then after her nap, she refused to even come into the bathroom and she began to cry. I was frantically trying to figure out why the poor girl was so resistant and upset. Then it dawned on me that she was only getting a reward when she actually peed on the potty, so I needed to reward her more frequently to reinforce the experience as enjoyable and fun from start to finish. So I increased the frequency of her reward; I gave her a chocolate chip when she came into the bathroom and again when she sat on the potty and again if she actually peed. By the end of day two, she was happily following me into the bathroom and was a much more happy and willing participant.

Day 3 

Everything clicked. She needed to be soothed a bit in the morning, but when she saw the chocolate chip waiting she was all in again. She was going to the potty happily and we got into a rhythm. Things got even easier on day three because she began to tell me when she had to “pee-pee”. She was so proud of herself and loved it when I cheered when she would stand up and reveal pee or poo in the potty!

For the first three days, we didn’t go anywhere. Then on day four, when she had the hang of it, we went to a family dinner with the potty in tow. We put it in the bathroom there and she used it. That weekend, we went on our first public outing. I made sure she watched me pack the chocolate chips in my purse before we left. Halfway through lunch, she said ‘Mama, pee pee.’ I took her in the public washroom, placed her on the toilet and she peed! I was so proud and relieved. It was in that moment that I knew we had achieved full potty training success—not only did she use the potty at home but she could use a big toilet out in public too! 

We were successful in three days, but if it takes you longer, there's no shame or judgement here. Be patient and don't be afraid to go back a step if it's not clicking just yet. Here are some of my tips:

Potty Training Checklist for Success

❏     Make sure your child is ready—they will show signs like being able to communicate when they have to pee or have a bowel movement, leaving the room to have a bowel movement, wanting their diaper off, showing interest in the toilet or watching other family members sit on the toilet are all signs that your child is ready to be potty trained. If you see the signs, you can trust that they are indeed ready.

❏     Rewarding a child when they are learning a new skill is critical to their success. Over time I have reduced the number of chocolate chips to one bathroom trip. In fact, she is okay with not getting the chocolate chip if she has already brushed her teeth for the night. I just tell her, “We want to keep your teeth clean for bed, but let’s have a chocolate chip in the morning.” Also, find a reward that motivates your child—food works well but some kids may be motivated by something else, like a special toy. Whatever you choose, make sure your child only has access to it in the bathroom so it remains a novel item.

❏     If you feel your child is not getting the potty training step you are trying to teach, go back a step. For example, if your child does not like sitting on the toilet, have them get used to sitting on it with the lid down and work from there.

❏     Staying consistent is the biggest factor. Once you have established your expectation, stick to it. If you want your child in underwear then there is no going back to full-time diapers no matter what!

❏      I absolutely did not want to use pull-up’s because they are essentially diapers that are put on in a different way. I figured learning to use the potty would happen faster if real underwear was used. Having an accident in real underwear is much more unpleasant than in a diaper and so they will learn faster.

❏     Keep a diaper on during nap and bedtime, no need to interrupt much-needed sleep for potty trips. When you see consistent dry diapers after a sleep, you know you can go without diapers all the time.

❏     Even someone who is fully potty trained can have accidents, so be prepared. We have a special little backpack with extra underwear, wipes and a change of clothes just in case. Let your child help you pack it.

❏     I was adamant that the potty remains in the bathroom and is not moved all around the house. Keeping the potty in the bathroom only seems logical, because you find toilets in bathrooms. Keeping the potty with us in every room we went in seemed unnatural, especially if we were in the kitchen!

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