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I’ve potty trained six kids in my years of nannying, and I’m smack dab in the middle of training my son, and it is hands down my least favorite part of bringing up a child. No, actually I HATE potty training!

There. I’ve said it.

If you’ve got a child around potty-training age, then you may (probably do) have the same sentiment as I do about this rite of passage into being a “big kid.” However, after training six and a half kids, I’ve learned a few little tricks and tips to help you keep your head on straight and to get those diapers gone.

Today is part one of a three-part series about potty training. I’ll take you step by step through what has worked for me, including unnecessary methods. I encourage my fellow mamas out there who have great ideas to leave comments, too!

Here we go!

Getting Prepared

How do you know WHEN to start?

I’ve heard a lot of different opinions about when a child should start potty training, but there is no “right age.” Every child is different (you will hear me say this OFTEN), and each will train at different ages. I’ve seen children train at 18 months, but I’ve also seen kids who didn’t train until four or five years old. Simply put, your child will train when they’re ready. Here are some tips to help you gauge if it’s time:

  • Your child can walk.
  • Your child shows interest in YOU going potty.
  • Your child can indicate he went to the bathroom in his diaper (verbally or physically).
  • You are FED UP with changing diapers (I’m SURE it’s a real adult development).
  • Your child can sit for five minutes or more.

Now, that list is not “must haves.” These are just indicators your child is probably ready. Want another indicator? Try it out! If your little one has a positive reaction to trying the potty, then he or she may be ready!

What do I need?

There are a ton of products out there geared to the potty trainer! But what do you REALLY need, and what is just a waste of money? Well, my first suggestion is to buy your little one a book or two about everything potty. There’s a bunch out there, but some of my favorites are:

Potty Time With Elmo

Bear in Underwear

Everyone Poops


Dinosaur vs The Potty

And a great system for parents and kiddos to use is the Potty Train system by Baby Signs. I used baby signs with my son from birth, so using their potty training method to “Get on Board the Potty Train!” was natural for us. It’s a great tool that includes books for parents and for the child, a DVD for the child, stickers and a train whistle. It’s especially great to train younger children who can’t talk yet.

Potty Chair

You’ll also need a potty chair! There are so many out there, how do you choose? Well, you could let your child choose it! Including your child in the preparation can boost their potty-training enthusiasm.But if you’d like to just run to the store and get the best potty out there, here are my top picks:


Baby Bjorn Potty

What I love the most about this toilet (which we are currently using in our home) is the white potty looks just like an adult toilet! No need for crazy frills or sounds. This potty chair is comfortable, easy to clean and looks simple and modern. It’s made to be used by a boy or girl, with no pee guard to move/add on.


Boon Potty Bench

I LOVE Boon’s products—all of them. Their potty bench is no exception. This modern-looking bench seat includes a removable “deflector shield” to cater to a boy’s needs, or you may put it away for your daughter. What I love about this chair is it has extra storage on the sides to place your potty books or wipes, and it can be used as a stool once potty training is finished!

I also love the potty seats that just sit on top of an adult toilet, saving on money AND space!


I also recommend purchasing underwear. I’m not fully against the pull-up training diapers, but I see them as unnecessary. They are just like diapers, making it harder for your little one to train. It’s like having those training wheels always on your bike—they’re GREAT to start with, but when it’s time to get going, if they’re still there you’ll lean on them. You’ve got to take them off to really learn.

Buy lots of underwear. You will be changing them often, and it’s nice to not have to do underwear laundry twice a day. Let your child choose the underwear (if they’re old enough to care) If they’ll be wearing them then they should like them, right?

If you’re worried about the mess, get over it. JUST KIDDING. You aren’t alone. I had a former boss lose it when I told her I would train with just underwear. She was worried out about the floors, couches, carpet, beds etc. If that freaks you out, there are plastic covers (found near children’s underwear at the store) you can pull on over the underwear that will help catch the mess. These are better than training diapers because they can feel it when they make a mess!

Starting young? Is your child too small for the 2T-3T underwear? Well, fear not! H&M makes underwear for the littlest girls and boys in size ONE! We use H&M undies and I highly recommend their tighty whiteys. They even have underwear with characters on them that your children will love!


A tool that’s not a necessity but I have found to be a great help is a hand-held kitchen timer. Your child will need to go often, and having a timer to hold will help remind him (and you) to try again!


Every child responds to some sort of praise. That’s the most important part of training—letting the child know how well he’s doing! Having something physical to give a child when he goes will help motivate your little one. Some parents use M&M’s or stickers, some make a basket of dollar toys their child can choose from. It may take a few tries to figure out what the best motivation is. For my son it was Dum Dums. For the boy I nanny for now, he would pee on command for (I kid you not) a high five. So find you child’s motivator and stock up!

A Potty Chart is another great motivator for some kids—mostly older children. My son is still a little young to understand the whole chart concept, but sometimes having that chart right there to add stickers to is GREAT motivation.

Want a potty chart of your own? Click HERE and print ours!
(Click on the link, then right click to save to your computer and print)
Place it into a page protector for easy sticker re-use!

Stay tuned for the next part of the Potty Training Series—Getting Started!

Finally, remember there’s no “wrong way.” I have seen and heard moms telling people they’re doing it wrong, or telling them the way they’re doing it will never work. Talk about a blow to your already wavering confidence in training your child! We mamas need to encourage each other, and remember that you’re doing it the right way for you and your little one.

Questions about potty training? Leave a comment and I’ll try to help out!


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


*I was not compensated for naming ANY product listed. These are all my favorite products that I have tested and love.