Ultimate Potty Training Guide

We were so thrilled when we brought Lily back from the hospital after she was born, we really weren’t thinking about all the diapers that we would be changing, especially when she was a newborn!  I have to say that getting her potty trained and graduating from the constant diaper changing really did make life easier.  But it’s a marathon, mamas, not a sprint! 


So sit back, take a deep breath, and let’s dive into one of the most important milestones in your toddler’s life!

When can I start?

This is probably the question that parents ask the most, but unfortunately there is no easy answer to it.  Most children are ready somewhere between 18 and 42 months (that is to say, 2 ½ to 3 ½ years).  However, your child’s chronological age is not as important as whether or not they show signs of potty training readiness


These signs can include:

  • Having basic skills like walking and pulling clothing on and off
  • Being able to follow simple directions when you give them
  • Knowing when they are feeling the urge to go – and also being able to tell you about it!
  • Showing an interest in using the toilet or wearing “big kid” underwear

Should I use a toddler seat or a potty chair?

This is another very common question!  Again, there are no hard-and-fast answers here.  Some parents prefer to use a stand-alone toddler-sized chair so that their children can get on and off easily. Other parents prefer to use a regular toilet with the addition of a toddler seat (and sometimes a step stool).  The choice is entirely up to you! In our household, we began with a toddler seat but eventually graduated to using the regular toilet. 

How do I start the training?

Remember, there are a lot of steps to going to the bathroom, steps that you tend to take for granted as an adult.  Take things slowly. 


First, have your child sit on the toilet or potty chair with all their clothes on just to see how it feels and to practice getting on and off.  Then have them sit without their diapers and give them potty breaks regularly every two hours.  It is important to also do potty breaks once they wake up in the morning, after naps, and before going to bed.  


Because toddlers do NOT like sitting still for any length of time, I had special books and toys for Lily that only came out during the potty breaks. This made the time more enjoyable for her and definitely easier on me!


Keep in mind that your child will not “go” with each potty break, but encourage them for trying and always stay positive as they make progress.  

Should I use training pants?

Training pants are, in my opinion, a great way to transition from diapers to “big kid” underwear.  They are sort of a half-way point: they are made of diaper material so they help control a mess but are designed more like underwear so that kids can get them on and off without help.  Usually, after a few weeks of keeping up with a potty schedule and staying dry during the day, it is time to break out the training pants!  


Training pants can eventually be replaced with regular underwear as your child progresses. This is usually a big milestone for toddlers.  Finding underwear that has their favorite cartoon character or comic book hero on it can really help reward your child. 

How long does it take?

This is another very popular question, but again there is no simple answer to it.  


It is important to remember that potty training is a process and not an event.  Children usually are able to pee in the toilet first and then progress to pooping in the toilet.  As they master these skills, they will be able to stay dry all day long.  This can take several weeks to several months, depending on the child. 


Staying dry all night is a different matter though.  This can take anywhere from several months to several years.  It is also important to know that there will often be accidents during the potty training process and so having a change of clothes and underwear on hand is always a good idea. 


This is a guide to some of the most important information you need to begin your potty-training adventure but I am including several sites that helped me when I was diving into this, especially with my first child. 


Great Sites







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