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Welcome back to our Potty Training Basics 3 Part Series!

Last week, we talked about how to prepare yourself and your child for the potty training experience, (check it all out HERE) and today I will be talking about the real deal…the big event…the main attraction. Let’s do this.


There’s lot’s of methods of training that work. This is the method I have come to love after training 6 (almost 7) kids. It works for me, but tweak it to work for you. The following is to be seen as helpful tips and advice, not THE way.

Let’s Get It Started

Before you start, you need to make sure you set aside time at home for the first few days of training. A weekend is the perfect time.

Potty training should start as soon as they wake up. Start them off with a hearty breakfast with plenty of juice/milk/water to drink, and then it’s on. Take off their diaper and sit them onto the potty. Let them sit for a bit, letting them know that the pee pee will come out. I love to keep it exciting by excitedly asking “Oh! Is it coming?!” or “Is your pee pee going to make noise going into the potty?!” Let them know you are SO excited about this. Your excitement may not be reciprocated, but know that it still helps.

Have a little one who can’t sit still (hahahahaha….who among us has a toddler who CAN sit still?!) long enough to pee? This is the time to indulge, my friends! Bring in books (how about those potty books I reccomended?), music,  or my son’s favorite…the iPhone. I would turn on a video or toddler game and he would sit for a longer period of time.
If, after 5-10 minutes your child hasn’t gone, let them get down and play. I reccomend not allowing electronics as free play that day (just on the potty) because they are so distracting that your child will space out and have an accident. Trust me, I’ve seen it time and time again. Try books, blocks, hot wheels, barbies etc.
Set your timer for 5 minutes and repeat the potty sitting again. Repeat this over and over- sit on the potty, break, sit on the potty, break- until they go the first time.


When your child goes for the first time, REJOICE!! Make a big deal. Give them your treat of choice, let them flush down the pee pee, and tell them you are so happy!

Oh, you thought that was it? Hardly.

Now, set your timer for 20 minutes. You can even give it to your toddler so that they feel special!

Give them something to drink during these breaks. Pump those liquids! The more they drink, the more they’ll need to pee! Make it special so they’ll want to drink lots. I almost never give Miles juice boxes, but on Potty Training day, I gave him a few!

When the timer goes off, get real excited and say “Yay! Time to try the potty again!”

Take them right to the toilet and sit them down. If they have kept their pants dry, make a big deal of it. “Oh, look! Dry pants! Great job!” Then repeat what you did earlier. If they don’t go after  a while, take 5 minute breaks until they do again.

  • Pee on the Potty
  • Praise
  • Motivator Prize/Treat
  • 20 minutes
  • Give them liquids
  • Do it again.


So, in an ideal world, this would “just work”. But no child trains without accidents. So what do we do when our little one has an accident?! (By the way. It is almost ALWAYS promptly 1 minute after they sat not going on the potty and get their underwear back on. You are not the only one going through that.)

Don’t get upset. It is SO frustrating when your child sat, not going and then immediately goes in their pants, but we have to remember that that is in their nature at this point. We’ve had them peeing and pooping in their pants their whole lives! So don’t punish, rather take them quickly to the bathroom, saying “We pee pee (or poo poo) on the potty, no pee pee in our pants” Change them in the bathroom into dry pants and start the timer over. You can talk about it more if you’d like, but make it positive! “Next time, tell mama and I’ll take you” or “Dry Pants feel better, don’t they?”

Each time they go, you will re-start the timer for 20 minutes.

Venturing Out…

So, it’s easy enough to deal with potty every 20 minutes and accidents at your home, but what happens if you have to leave the house? Well first off, I would really recommend trying to stay home the days you are really hard core training, but that’s not reality for everyone. I had two days of all day at home with Miles but then I had to go back to work, and we are in and out of the car taking kids to and from school all morning. In that case, Use your judgement to decide what to do. I went ahead and left him in underwear, putting a towel down (with a few extras in the trunk) in his car-seat, and each time we stopped, he HAD to try to use the potty. I made sure to only take him to stores where I knew where the restrooms were at, and I would save most of my errands for the evening when I could leave him at home with the Hubby. If I knew he would fall asleep in the car, I would put him in a diaper.

What happens when you do take them out and need to use a public restroom?! I mean, if you’re used to using a potty seat sized for a little bum, then the ginormous seats in a public restroom can be a bit daunting. Never fear! There’s these great folding travel seats that fit right onto the big ‘ole toilet seat, making it small enough for your little one.

Wait, your child is afraid of those scary flushing toilets? We bought a folding potty CHAIR that can be used anywhere, and it is usually used in the back of the car! We love our Potette Plus! You just pop the legs out, place a special bag (it has an absorbant pad in it to soak up the wet stuffs) into place, and your child can go potty anywhere! Perfect for roadtrips, and the 6 year olds I watch have even used it on the rare emergency occasion!


Sleepy time

This is my least favorite part of potty training. Night/Nap time. ugh. My son pees the most at night. To the point where we actually were buying bigger sized diapers for night time because he would SOAK his bed. So night time training is an ongoing project in our household.

But it doesn’t have to be terrible! Here are some helpful tips to help get nap time and bedtime fully diaper free:

  • Do not allow liquids after dinner, and even limit dinner drinks to one small one. (Just until they’ve trained)
  • Take them to the potty right before the go to bed
  • Wake them up and take them again before YOU go to bed
  • If you hear them getting up at night, (we keep the baby monitor in his room) get up and take them to the potty.

But like the daytime, night time and nap time accidents do happen. And let me tell you-it sucks. Getting up in the middle of the night to clean up a soaked bed and do laundry?! NOT my favorite thing. Here are a few tips to help make the accidents a little less time consuming in the middle of your dreams about a maid coming to your home and offering to clean it daily for free.

  • Buy a waterproof matress cover. These are a must have for any parent, and can be found in the bedding section of most stores.
  • Buy waterproof pads. These are smaller pads that go on top of the fitted sheet, under your child for extra protection and easy clean up. Just pull it off and replace with a clean one. I have 3 of them and rotate.
  • Extra blankets! I actually place an old comforter on top of the fitted sheet (and then the waterproof pad over that!) because my son is a mover when he sleeps.
  • Keep an extra set of jammies close at hand. The less you have to think in the middle of the night, the better!

Those tips should help make night time accidents a LITTLE less frustrating!

Make it FUN

As we all know, toddlers need things to be fun and intriguing. So keep potty training from becoming drab and boring by making it fun!

I love to turn the tunes of Miles’s favorite songs into songs about the potty. They’re never the same words, and they’re ALWAYS silly.

Pour a few Cheerios into the toilet for a “target practice” of sorts. One little boy I trained LOVED to help his dad water the garden, so I would tell him the cheerios were plants and he needed to water them. Make believe those cheerios are whatever your child is loving at the moment.

Want something a little more exciting than Cheerios? There’s some Potty Targets you can buy that are colorful and fun, like Piddlers! Made of starch, they give your little one a fun target to “hit” and they break down when flushed. OR The awesome Wee-N-See’s! A small 100% biodegradable strip you place into your toilet, it changes color when your child pees and a fun picture is revealed! Incentive to go quickly to see that picture!!

Those targets aren’t just for boys either! Girls get just as much of a kick out of them, so play away!

It’s gonna be ok…

If you try this out and your child is really upset after a few days, take a break. Back off for a bit. Give them some space. They may just not be ready. It took 5 times before Miles finally agreed to use the potty. There were full weekends when I felt like all I was doing was calming down my son and cleaning up pee and poop around my house. And the laundry. Oh, the laundry. But that’s ok. If, after a few days they still haven’t really gone and they seem to cry everytime they sit on the potty it IS ok to take a few weeks (or even months if you feel they need it) off. You don’t want your child to associate potty training with punishment, or you will see accidents happening a lot later down the road. Some parents will claim that “Once you start you CAN’T stop, or else they’ll think they have the upper hand”. Well, I’m pretty sure that having your child scream and cry on the toilet is going to get you both nowhere, so give yourself a break. Then you can start again in a few weeks.

Begin by focusing on the Peeing. If your child DOES poop on the potty, then YAY! But for the most part, I say to focus on the pee in the beginning. I will talk about pooping next time. That seriously needs it’s own post.

Potty training is like marriage.

If you aren’t FULLY committed, it will be much harder to succeed and may lead to lots of tears and eventually failure. Be fully committed to your child’s potty training. I know it’s a pain to have to drop everything and go to the bathroom every 20 minutes, and to leave a cart full of stuff sitting at Target because your child says it’s time, and to clean up, and then clean up some more. But if you decide to commit to it, you are doing that little one a favor! Yourself too! No more buying/washing diapers! Oh, yes! It is well worth the craziness to get your child through the training. Trust me.

Any little tricks of your own?! Share them for your friends here at Simply Real Moms with a comment below.


Catch up on the other two installments of our Potty Training Series!