This post is part of the ‘Tales From The Other Side Of …’ series. There are so many stages, achievements, milestones and heartbreaks we go through as parents and whatever we are experiencing, whether good, bad, exciting or terrifying, it’s always nice to know someone else has already done it and come through the other side. To find out how you can get involved and share your story/tips and tricks click here. Today I’m sharing with you my own tips for potty training.

Potty training is one of those milestones that all parents dread. While we can’t wait to be rid of the nappies, the thought of all those ‘accidents’ scares the life out of us. Having been through it twice now and come through the other side fairly intact, I thought I’d let you all know what I’ve learnt and what worked for me.

Click through to read my top 12 tips for potty training your child ...

1. Know Your Child

The very first thing you need to realise is that every single child is different. What works for one might not work for another. You need to understand your own child’s abilities and what makes them tick so that you can pick the right methods that will work for them. There are so many places to pick up tip posts like this one and it can be tempting to try every little thing only to feel disheartened when it doesn’t work and then quickly try someone else’s tips and on and on until neither you nor your child knows whether your are coming or going. Read through the advice and tips and then just pick what you think’ll suit your child’s abilities and personality.

2. Don’t Make Comparisons

Again, every child is different. Just because your friend’s son was potty trained before they turned two doesn’t mean yours should be. We can get so worried that we’re somehow failing our children if we feel they’re behind others that we push things before they are ready. Good parenting isn’t about whose child walked/talked/pooped on a toilet first, it’s about understanding when your child is ready to take that step. Even within the same family there will be differences. My son practically trained himself at 2 years old, my daughter was almost 3 and needed a little more guidance. Which leads us the next tip.

Two young girls hugging

3. Follow Their Cues

By the time my son turned 2 he was already dry through the night (most nights) and always told us if he needed a poo. He was clearly ready for the next stage and took to it straight away. We had very few accidents with him at all. My daughter showed no interest in potty training and always had a full nappy on a morning so we waited longer until we felt she was ready.

4. Introduce them to it early

I’m not talking about potty training early. I’m talking about having a potty from an early age. With both of my children from the age of around 6 months (or as soon as they could sit unaided) I would sit them on the potty every time I changed their nappy or took them for a bath, or just before bed. There was never any expectation of them doing anything on it, although I told them they could if they wanted to and offered lots of praise when they did, they could just sit there while I cleaned up or ran the bath. My son loved his potty and by 8 months he was doing all his number two’s on there rather than in his nappy (unless he was poorly). My daughter also loved her potty, but more because she liked to sit on it and read books, as for anything else, she didn’t care where she did it. The point here isn’t to get them using it as such, more to get them used to it so that it doesn’t scare them later on. You hear of a lot of children who struggle to let go (especially of number two’s) when they are on a potty to begin with, and if you think about it, it is completely alien to them.

bare baby sitting next to a large teddy bear

5. get them involved

Talk to them about it before hand. Explain how they are becoming such a big girl/boy now and before long they won’t need these baby nappies, they’ll be able to where cool/pretty (whatever motivates them) pants like mum/dad/brother/sister (anyone they admire or want to be just like). Ask them if they would like to go shopping to chose some. They could also choose their own potty. We already had a potty so when it came time with our two we let them choose a nice toilet seat and step (My son had a Cars one and my daughter chose Peppa Pig).

6. Use pull-ups at Night

I wouldn’t advise using them during the day (unless you are going out) as they are too similar to nappies, but they are great for night time. Potty training can be a stressful time for little ones, especially at the start, and it’s a lot for their minds to process. In the beginning the pull-ups will allow them to still get a good night’s sleep even if they do have an accident. You could of course continue to use nappies at night but I think that can be confusing for them, once the nappies go they should go completely. Remind them to call you if they need the toilet in the night and eventually they will get the hang of it. Once they have been dry overnight for a week it’s time to drop them.

7. Double-Up on Sheets

It’s inevitable that accidents will happen, especially at night. Take some of the stress away from yourself by doubling up on the bedsheets. By this I mean having a waterproof cover over the mattress followed by a normal fitted sheet, and then add another waterproof cover and fitted sheet on top of that. That way, when your child has an accident it’s really quick to strip off one set and the next layer is ready to go. No-one wants to be making up a bed in the middle of the night. I’d also advise having a spare quilt and pillow ready at hand too in case they were lying on the quilt when it happened. One night my daughter sat up to call me that she needed the toilet but by the time I got there it was already too late, unfortunately she’d decided to sit on the pillow. It also wouldn’t hurt to put a mattress protector on your own bed in case you end up having to have them in with you after an accident or two.

light blue bedsheets and cream pillow

photo credit: flossyflotsam Haven via photopin (license)

8. Take it at their pace

As I mentioned before, my son was practically dry already so we didn’t really have many accidents and he took to it all really well. He was also dry through the night a lot already so although we used pull-ups at night for the first few days he never needed them so we stopped. My daughter took a while longer. At first we tried some toweling pants during the day that would soak up small accidents but they were too similar to nappies for her and I don’t think she really noticed the difference and being a bit wet didn’t bother her. After that first day we switched to some normal pants and this time she recognised when she had an accident. The first few days were difficult as was expected but on the fourth day it seemed to click. There were still many more accidents to come,  but they gradually got fewer and further apart. It’s also natural for things to take a slight backwards turn sometimes. It could be because they are poorly or something else is going on in their lives. My daughter recently had a few accidents after being dry for several months but she’s going through a stressful time at the minute with not liking preschool and there is a touch of separation anxiety going on. Just reassure them that it’s ok, accidents happen, and remind them to ask for the toilet sooner next time.

9. Make it Easy for Them

If, like us, you don’t have a downstairs toilet, I highly recommend getting an extra potty for the main living space downstairs. A lot of children won’t recognise they need the toilet until right at the very last moment, especially if they’re distracted and having fun. Having a potty close at hand will make it easier for them in those early stages. I also recommend asking them regularly if they need the toilet to act as a reminder, and if it’s been over an hour it may be an idea to sit them on the toilet anyway just in case, but with no expectation that that have to do something. Let them know that you understand it can sometimes be hard to recognise you need the toilet and just sitting on it will sometimes make the wee flow. If they don’t do anything tell them its ok and praise them for trying anyway and to let you know when they do need to go.

black and white overhead shot of young girl on the toilet looking up into the cameraphoto credit: Daddy-David 16/366 – potty training via photopin(license)

10. Lots of Praise

Praise them at every opportunity. Not just when they successfully use the toilet, but every time they tell you they need the toilet, even if they don’t quite get there on time. When they manage to pull their pants up/down themselves; when they take themselves to the potty; when they choose their new big girl/boy pants. Focus less on the results and more on the effort they are putting in and how proud you are of them for trying. It can be a stressful time for us as parents, but it must be even more stressful for them trying to learn to recognise the signs and get there on time.

jelly beans

11. Rewards

Each child is different and will respond to different rewards. For some, the praise and smiles they receive will be enough, others may respond to a sticker chart. With my daughter it was chocolate. I’m not advocating giving your child sugar every time they use the toilet but for the first day or two, whenever she successfully used the toilet, we let L have a small bite of a funsize milky way. This motivated her at the start but after the first few times we didn’t mention it again and started giving her a special high-five instead, which she loved. Sometimes she remembered and asked for a bite and we let her, but by the end of the second day she had forgotten herself. We used one and half fun size bars in total so it really didn’t take much. Like I said above though, know your child and choose a reward that is best for them and your parenting style.

Which brings us nicely to the last, and possibly most important, tip:

12. Follow Your Instincts

You can read all the advice in the world but when it comes right down to it you just have to follow your instincts. Pick and choose the methods that appeal to you and the way you raise your children or ignore them all and do your own thing. There is no right or wrong and no-one will know your child and your circumstances better than you. Listen to your gut, you’ve got this.

Do you have any great tips to add or questions to ask? Let me now in the comments below.

If you found this post useful, or know someone who would benefit from it, please share it x

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53 thoughts on “12 Top Potty Training Tips

  1. This is such a great list of tips. I particularly like the doubling up of bedsheets idea and using pull-ups at night. We are nearing the potty training stage, and I will definitely be using some of your suggestions going forward! #TheListLinky

    Posted on 29 September, 2017 at 12:00 pm
    1. Thank you, I hope they help when the time comes x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:23 am
  2. Some great tips, thank you. We definitely used the rewards, the only problem is to work out how to remove them lol

    Posted on 30 September, 2017 at 10:26 pm
    1. Ha ha, yes that can be a problem. We found not mentioning them unless they did reduced the number of times it happened and eventually they forget x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:24 am
  3. good tips, thank you. Cygnet is ready for toilet training. He has just turned three. I don’t know that I really want to spend a weekend at home though. I need to buy one of those portable potties to take out with me. A nappy is just so much easier… Pen x #KCACOLS
    Pen recently posted…Do you tone down your looks to be taken seriously at work?My Profile

    Posted on 30 September, 2017 at 10:28 pm
    1. Being cooped up in the house is the worst. Pull-ups are great for when you’re heading out in the early weeks and just carefully plan where you are going and know where the toilets are at all times! Portable potties are great and I know quite a few people who swear by them but we never actually needed one. Most shopping centres have toilets and if its a walk out in the country a bush will do! Good luck x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:27 am
  4. Great list – definitely follow your child. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for all! #kcacols

    Posted on 30 September, 2017 at 10:52 pm
    1. So true, in all areas, not just potty training x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:28 am
  5. These are good tips. 2) is particularly relevant, all our cubs have to it at different times and the youngest is enjoying practicing and can tell when it’s time to go.

    I was surprised by the pull ups only at night tip but I guess it makes sense.

    It also helps to live where there are hardly any carpeted areas!


    Posted on 1 October, 2017 at 12:02 am
    1. I’m lucky that we only have carpet on the stairs so accidents on the floor aren’t too hard to deal with (couches and wooden benches are another matter!). If pull-ups during the day work best for you then go with it. My daughter needed to feel the wet for a few days for it to really click, but they’re all different x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:33 am
  6. Thank you – this is super helpful! My daughter is 2 but definitely not ready to potty train. We’ve had a potty for a while and she enjoys sitting on it but has never ever been to the toilet on it. In fact, she asks for a nappy when she needs to go! These tips have eased my concerns a bit so thank you #TheListLinky

    Posted on 1 October, 2017 at 12:07 am
    1. Ha ha, at least she is used to the feel of it. Just reassure her that she can wee on it if she wants to like Mummy does on the big toilet and one day she may just surprise you and give it a go. There’s definitely no need to rush things x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:35 am
  7. Glad to come across this, my son is almost 2 and no where ready so it is helpful to read this post to trust your instincts and read their cue #KCACOLS

    Posted on 1 October, 2017 at 3:24 am
    1. Thank you, I hope it helps you when the time comes x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:36 am
  8. Some amazing tips and advice around potty training. I paid particular attention to the one about introducing the potty early. My little boy is 15 months and although we haven’t got one yet, I’m now determined we will get it out as often as you say here going forward.


    Posted on 1 October, 2017 at 7:20 am
    1. Thank you, if nothing else it will get him used to the look and feel of it so it’s not so scary when the time does come x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:37 am
  9. I couldn’t agree more with the idea of knowing your child and going at their pace. I was told “he’ll do it in a week when he’s ready”. Well I was convinced he was ready, started potty training and it was a long 10 weeks before it was fully done and that was only during the day. He was 2.5 when we started. He was 3 in june and we still use pull ups on a night but I really am not bothered by that. He’s in the routine of going to the loo before bed and getting up and going to the loo and taking his nappy off and I’m pleased that they are not as full as they once where. I’m pregnant with a little girl too, I’m definitely going to wait with her and let her give me the signals. I’m hoping she’ll want to follow her big brother #KCACOLS

    Posted on 1 October, 2017 at 8:53 am
    1. There are so many posts and books that claim you can potty train any child in a week or over a weekend but it’s just not that easy. It sounds like you have a good routine with your son and he will get there when he is ready x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:40 am
  10. Okay my son is nearly fourteen months and I am getting him a potty stat. #kcacols Great tips thanks.

    Posted on 1 October, 2017 at 9:02 am
    1. Ha ha, if nothing else it will get him used to it so it’s not so scary when the time comes x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:41 am
  11. These tips are great. We are no where near potty training yet, but it’s helpful to read about it now so I’m more prepared when the time comes! #KCACOLS

    Posted on 1 October, 2017 at 1:56 pm
    1. Thank you, I hope they help you when the time comes x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:41 am
  12. I feel we will be ages away from a dry night. he still has his pull ups and they often max out. waterproof mattress protectors are def helpful! #KCACOLS

    Posted on 1 October, 2017 at 3:54 pm
    1. Night-time is definitely the hardest but they all get there in their own time x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 12:42 pm
  13. Potty training isn’t easy and different for every child. I think you are right when saying take it at the childs pace.
    Ali Duke recently posted…My Empties September 2017My Profile

    Posted on 1 October, 2017 at 8:55 pm
    1. Thank you, it’s so true. In my whole circle of mom friends not one persons potty training experience is the same, even between their own children. They all get there when they’re ready x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:43 am
  14. This is so useful for me. I keep putting off getting started with my eldest who is 2.5 yrs. she is ready but I always seem to be too busy to manage it. Thanks for the tips, I’m bookmarking! Great advice x #familyfunlinky

    Posted on 2 October, 2017 at 7:11 am
    1. Thank you. I was really hesitant too but as long as they are ready it’s worth giving it a shot. Maybe start doing the shopping for a potty and big girls pants with her and talk it over so she knows what to expect then ask her to let you know when she wants to start. You’ll always be too busy so you could pencil it in on a calendar and do the countdown together. Good luck x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:48 am
  15. I always beleive in taking your time, no rush and just keep at it X #kcacols

    Posted on 2 October, 2017 at 7:22 am
    1. So true, and for so many things x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 12:41 pm
  16. Great tips for potty training! #Familyfunlinky

    Posted on 2 October, 2017 at 9:54 am
    1. Thank you x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:48 am
  17. This is really timely for me – my daughter is starting to show signs of being ready for potty training (she likes to sit on her potty and tells me immediately when she has a wet nappy), but I’m not sure she’s quite there yet – and that’s fine. I know my kid and there’s no point in trying to force her to do something she doesn’t want to do! #familyfunlinky
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    Posted on 2 October, 2017 at 12:13 pm
    1. Sounds like she is making her own way there and that’s great, just follow her lead x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:50 am
  18. The Boy was such an easy potty trainer. He just said “I’m going to use the toilet now” and 2 and a half and that was it. Done! Seriously. He is 6 now though and still struggles with bed wetting, so I guess they all have different issues.

    I will keep these tips in mind when Bobsy’s time comes, I can see it being harder this time! #familyfunlinky

    Posted on 2 October, 2017 at 1:11 pm
    1. I definitely had a much easier time with my son than my daughter but who knows, she may surprise you. They’re definitely all different and struggle with different aspects of it but they all get there eventually x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:51 am
  19. Great list! My daughter is two and fully day time trained but still pees a lot at night. The whole process was a struggle if I’m honest & im hoping my son will be a lot easier! #KCACOLS

    Posted on 2 October, 2017 at 1:50 pm
    1. It can be hard but being day-time trained at 2 is great. The night-time will come when she is ready. In my experience boys are easier but there will probably be just as many people telling you its the other way round. They really are all different. Best of luck x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:54 am
  20. It’s not easy, is it? All children are different and I soon have to face with another potty training with my second child. Not looking forward to it 😜 #familyfunlinky

    Posted on 2 October, 2017 at 1:52 pm
    1. It’s certainly not and I think it’s the one we all dread but not having too high expectations and following their cues helps ease the pressure slightly. Good luck with it, you never know, second time might be a breeze x

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:56 am
  21. Good tips and a real insight for people who are entering that stage with their own children. The first time I found it challenging but with my second boy I was really chilled as I knew it would happen if I stressed or not. Summer time potty training is my top tip:)

    Posted on 2 October, 2017 at 9:23 pm
    1. So true, getting stressed about it won’t help anyone. And yes, summertime is definitely best!

      Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 11:57 am
  22. Spot on first point. I had decided we would potty train D this summer when it was warm and she could run around with no clothes on, but it got to Easter and I just couldn’t hold her back any longer. It was so clear she was ready! I took a week off and she’d pretty much cracked it within that week, day and night. She was a little super star. I was really worried about potty training and ‘getting it wrong’ so I bought a book and did what it told me to do so I could blame that if it all went wrong!! Good to have a clear plan in mind though otherwise, as you say, you end up flitting from method to method, never giving any of them enough of a chance. Thanks for sharing #FamilyFunLinky

    Posted on 3 October, 2017 at 9:50 pm
  23. great tips here. Ours was completely uninterested until it was time for preschool. As soon as she had something that she wouldn’t be able to do without being trained she was all set. #KCACOLS

    Posted on 4 October, 2017 at 4:15 am
  24. Very glad to be on the other side of this hurdle! Big did it all herself, in one day. Never a mistake after. Little, she had other ideas… 😀 #KCACOLS xoxo
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    Posted on 4 October, 2017 at 11:29 am
  25. Great tips! I always potty trained in the summer months when they were wearing less clothing, its easier for them to take off when they suddenly realise they need the toilet and less washing when they have little accidents 🙂 #kcacols

    Posted on 4 October, 2017 at 12:20 pm
  26. Such a great post. We’ve bought our 15 month old a potty and she loves pretending to sit on it. Such useful advice, i’ve re-tweeted 🙂

    Posted on 4 October, 2017 at 1:51 pm
  27. I like reading timely advice! I’m not potty training as such because let’s face it I am too busy but doing the whole intro thing and seeing for some signals
    He’s ready! I’m not so all advice is good!!
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    Posted on 4 October, 2017 at 6:53 pm
  28. Popping in (not pooping) from the #familyfunlinky and still gald to be over this hurdle! xoxo

    Posted on 5 October, 2017 at 8:53 pm
  29. I totally agree with number 4. Slow and stead introduction with no expectation always seems sensible and gentle to me. #KCACOLS
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    Posted on 5 October, 2017 at 10:57 pm
  30. Great tips for those with littles. Sooooooo glad to have the whole thing ‘behind’ us! #familyfunlinky xoxo
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    Posted on 8 October, 2017 at 4:53 pm
  31. Wonderful post. I’ve heard quite a few people have a real problem with rewards. I don’t get it. We reward children for just about every other behavior we’re trying to encourage. We used potty training charts, with stickers and prizes, and we celebrated every success. Gradually they needed that less and less, but it got them excited in the beginning.

    Posted on 17 October, 2017 at 10:34 pm
  32. I am having the worst time with my 3 year old. We tried the three day method and it helped, but we’re still having 2 to 5 “accidents” per day. When does this stop? When I hover and prompt too much, I get tantrums. When I’m too hands off, she’s peeing her underwear condtantly. What do I do? This is driving me nuts.

    Posted on 23 November, 2017 at 9:08 am