Updated: Feb 2, 2021
Alright moms and dads! Go ahead and do the jig. You are about to enter one of the most exciting segments of your parenting journey. The segment when you no longer need to wipe a poopy booty on your toddler who thinks diaper-changing-time is actually time to flop around like a fish as fast as you can. When you no longer need to ensure you have enough diapers in the car when you venture out for the day. The time when you say goodbye to the panicked trips to Target on Saturday after realizing you almost missed the diaper sale for your favorite brand!
As with every phase of parenting, potty training time can sneak up on you rather quickly. And although it may seem a little daunting, potty training really does not need be a stressful time. I like to think of potty training as a phase of life rather than an individual event.
Check out the three stages of potty training and my tips for mastering each stage.
* Although I have ages listed for each stage, every child is different. These ages are guidelines meant to give you an idea of when to begin each stage. One of the best things you can do, especially when moving on to stages 2 and 3, is to wait until your child is ready. Waiting for your child's readiness will save both you and your child frustration, tears, and quitting.
Stage 1: Familiarize With the Potty
Age: 18-24 months
It would be silly to think that our kiddos could easily transition from going potty in a diaper to going potty on the toilet without first being introduced to the toilet. Just like it would have been silly to think that our kiddos could transition from a bottle to a sippy cup without some no-pressure practice time.
Introduce a Potty
I prefer a potty ring that sits on top of a real toilet. Why? Well, my main motivator is because there is no part of me that wants to manually dispose of pee or poop from a little potty that sits on the floor. My own personal preferences aside, I think the potty rings better prepare kiddos for the ultimate goal, which is sitting on a real toilet to go to the bathroom. I prefer as few transitions as possible. If you first introduce a potty that sits on the floor, you have to then then later introduce the big potty that they will use for the rest of their lives. If you can get away without the extra step, why not.
I used this potty ring for both of my kids and it has been great.
Create an Informal Schedule
Choose a time of the day that you can easily put your kiddo on the potty. Once a day is great during this stage. Keep in mind that this should be a stress-free process. If you forget, are running out of the door one morning, or only plan to do this every other day, no worries! It is not so much about the exact frequency as it is about getting into a routine so you all remember to do it, and so your little one gets comfortable with sitting on the potty by doing so on a regular basis as part of a regular routine.
Sample Informal Schedule (pick 1, or 2 at most)…
Before you put him in the tub every day (or however often you bathe your kiddo)
Each morning when changing into his clothes for the day
Each night before putting on PJs
Does it matter if he actually pees while sitting on the potty? No, it does not matter if he simply sits there or if he actually pees. One day he will accidently pee (it may be months before this happens!), you will all do the biggest potty dance ever, and he will then know what he is supposed to do on the potty, what it feels like, and have had his first practice at it. Otherwise let him sit there for as short or as long as he wants.
Any extra times your little one asks to use the potty is a win! If he ever asks to use the potty, praise him for asking, and go ahead and sit him on there.
Stage 2: Get Down to Business
Age: 2-2.5 years
Once your kiddo is able to tell you that she has to go potty most of the time, she is ready to move on to Stage 2. This stage is about being more intentional.
A More Formal Schedule
This is the stage right before you ditch the diaper, so you will want to be more intentional with getting her onto the potty frequently throughout the day and encouraging her to tell you if she has to go.
Sample "More Formal" Schedule (4-5x/day)
Each morning after waking - when taking off overnight diaper
After mid-morning snack
Before nap time
After waking from nap
Before putting on PJs at bedtime
Toot to Poop
If you hear her toot (or show a sign that she may have to poop) encourage her to sit on the potty! Half the battle of learning to poop on the potty is actually sitting on the potty when she has to poop. Additionally, if your little one poops around the same time most days, encourage her to sit on the potty around those times.