Potty Training In Days, Not Weeks (9 Potty Training Tips to Toilet Train Your Toddler Fast!)

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Written By Olivia Miller

Author at Montessori Expert.

The Struggle is Real, But Success is Possible

If you’re a mom in the throes of potty training your toddler, you know how frustrating and exhausting it can be.

It may feel like you’re constantly cleaning up accidents, bribing with rewards, and wondering if your little one will ever get the hang of using the toilet consistently.

But take heart, mama – you’re not alone in this struggle. And the good news is, it is absolutely possible to successfully potty train your toddler in a matter of days, not weeks or months with these potty training tips.

With the right approach and some key strategies, you can help your child master this important milestone quickly and with less stress for everyone involved.

As a mom who has been through it myself (twice!), I know firsthand that the process of toilet training a toddler is not for the faint of heart. 

There will likely be setbacks, power struggles, and plenty of messes along the way. But if you arm yourself with the right tools and mindset, you can get through it and come out the other side with a potty-trained kiddo.

In this article, I’ll share 8 essential tips that I used to potty train both of my children in just 4-6 days. These are proven strategies that have worked for me and countless other parents who were determined to ditch the diapers fast.

I’ll walk you through exactly what you need to do to set your child up for potty training success.

But before we dive into the tips, let’s talk about why fast potty training is even desirable in the first place.

After all, every child develops at their own pace, right? While that’s certainly true, there are some compelling reasons to aim for a quick and efficient toilet training process:

Diapers are expensive! The sooner your child is out of them, the more money you’ll save.

Potty-trained kids have more independence and self-esteem. They feel proud of their new skill.

Changing diapers gets old fast, for both parents and toddlers. Moving on from this stage is freeing.

Daycare and preschool often require children to be potty trained for admission. Getting it done early expands your child’s options.

Travel and outings are so much easier without having to pack diapers and find changing tables.

9 Essential Potty Training Tips

Tip No. 1: Make Sure Your Child is Really Ready

The very first and most crucial step in fast potty training is to ensure your child is actually ready, both physically and emotionally. If they are not ready, attempting to toilet train will likely be an exercise in frustration for everyone.

So how can you tell if your toddler is ready to say goodbye to diapers? Look for these signs of potty training readiness:

  • They can stay dry for 1-2 hours at a time during the day
  • They are having regular, soft bowel movements (not constipated)
  • They show interest in the bathroom and what happens there
  • They can follow simple directions
  • They can communicate their needs with words or gestures
  • They seem generally receptive to the idea of using the potty

Most children start showing these signs around 2 years old, but some may be ready earlier or later. Trust your instincts and don’t feel pressured to potty train before your child is ready, just because you feel like you “should.”

If your toddler is showing most of the signs of readiness, then it’s a green light to move ahead with potty training. But if they’re not quite there yet, wait a few weeks and re-evaluate. There’s no rush! It’s much better to wait until they’re ready to set everyone up for success.

Tip No. 2: Make Potty Training a Big, Exciting Deal

Once you’ve determined your child is ready to start potty training, it’s time to get them excited about this new milestone. You want them to see using the toilet as a positive, grown-up thing to do.

There are a few key ways to build anticipation and make potty training feel like a special occasion:

Let your child pick out their own “big kid” underwear with favourite characters or designs.

Make a big deal out of retiring the diapers and transitioning to these special new undies.

Get them their own potty chair or seat reducer for the regular toilet. Again, let them choose one they like, and talk up what a big moment it is to have their very own potty.

Create a sticker chart where they can track their potty successes and earn small rewards. 

Celebrate each time they use the toilet with lots of praise and maybe even a little treat.

Read books and watch videos about potty training so they understand the process and see that other kids do it too. Normalise it and build positive associations.

Have a “potty party” to kick off training, complete with streamers, balloons, and their favourite snacks. Let them invite a few stuffed animal friends to join the festivities.

The key is to make potty training something your child looks forward to and is eager to participate in, rather than a chore or punishment.

Get them excited to be a “big kid” who uses the toilet, and you’ll have a more willing and motivated little trainer.

Tip No. 3: Create Consistent Potty Routines

potty training chart printable free
potty training chart printable free

Routines are so important for young children, and that’s especially true when it comes to potty training. Establishing consistent, predictable times for sitting on the potty throughout the day will increase the odds of catching something in the toilet and building that muscle memory.

Some key times to have your child try using the toilet include:

  • First thing in the morning
  • Before and after meals
  • Before and after nap time
  • Before bedtime
  • Any time you’re about to leave the house

You can also watch for telltale signs that your child needs to go, like squatting, grabbing their diaper area, or suddenly getting quiet and hiding behind furniture to have a bowel movement. As soon as you see those signs, quickly whisk them off to the bathroom to try using the toilet.

In the beginning, you may need to prompt your child to use the potty as often as every 20-30 minutes, especially if they’re having a lot of accidents. But over time, as they start to get the hang of it, you can space out the reminders a bit more.

The idea is to give them plenty of opportunities to use the toilet successfully and start to recognize those internal cues that it’s time to go. If you can create consistent routines around toilet use, they’ll eventually become second nature for your child.

Tip No. 4: Use Rewards Strategically, But Don’t Go Overboard

Rewards can be a helpful motivator in the early stages of potty training, but you want to be strategic about how you use them. The goal is to encourage your child and reinforce their success, without making them dependent on getting a prize every single time they use the toilet.

potty training rewards ideas featured image
potty training rewards ideas featured image

Some ideas for effective rewards include:

  • Verbal praise and cheering when they use the potty successfully
  • Stickers on a chart to track progress
  • Small treats like M&Ms or Skittles given immediately after they go
  • Inexpensive trinkets like bouncy balls or temporary tattoos for bigger milestones
  • Extra playtime or getting to choose a special activity after staying dry all day

You want the rewards to be exciting enough to motivate your child, but not so over-the-top that they expect a huge prize every time they pee. Keep it simple, immediate, and directly tied to their potty training efforts.

It’s also important to phase out the rewards over time as your child masters using the toilet. You don’t want them to see going to the bathroom as something they only do for external prizes. The ultimate goal is for them to be intrinsically motivated to use the toilet because it feels good to stay clean and dry.

So while rewards can jump start the process in the beginning, be prepared to slowly phase them out once your child is regularly using the toilet on their own. Replace the tangible prizes with plenty of verbal praise and encouragement to keep the positive momentum going. Here are the 50 non-food potty training reward ideas you can try.

Tip No. 5: Dress for Potty Training Success

What your child wears during potty training can make a big difference in how easily they’re able to use the toilet and how motivated they are to keep their pants dry. The key is to choose clothing that is easy for them to manage independently and doesn’t feel too similar to a diaper.

Some potty training-friendly clothing options include:

  • Loose-fitting elastic waist pants that are easy to pull up and down
  • Dresses or skirts for girls (just skip the tights or leggings at first)
  • Two-piece outfits rather than onesies or rompers
  • Clothes that are a little bit big so there’s room to pull them down quickly
  • Training underwear or regular underwear, avoid diapers or pull-ups if you can

You want your child to be able to easily pull their pants up and down on their own, without having to fuss with buttons, zippers, or tight waistbands. And you want them to clearly feel the difference between being wet and dry, which is why underwear is preferable to diapers.

It’s also a good idea to keep your child lightly dressed at home during the potty training process, especially in the beginning. Let them run around in just a shirt and training pants, or even nude from the waist down if you’re feeling brave. The less clothing they have on, the easier it will be for them to use the potty quickly and the more motivated they’ll be to avoid accidents.

Of course, you’ll want to dress them in regular clothes when you go out or have company over. But when you’re just hanging out at home working on potty training, keep it simple and make it easy for your little one to undress to use the toilet.

Tip No. 6: Normalise Accidents and Stay Positive

Accidents are a totally normal and expected part of the potty training process. It’s important to keep in mind that your child is learning a brand new skill, and it’s going to take some time for their body and brain to figure it all out.

Even children who seem to pick up potty training quickly will have accidents sometimes, especially when they’re in a new environment or distracted by an exciting activity. And some kids continue to have occasional accidents for months or even years after they’re fully daytime potty trained.

As frustrating as it can be to clean up messes, try your best to stay calm and positive when your child has an accident. Shaming or punishing them will only make them feel bad and could lead to more resistance around using the toilet.

Instead, take a matter-of-fact approach and calmly say something like, “Oops, looks like you had an accident. That’s okay, accidents happen when we’re learning something new. Let’s get you cleaned up.”

Then take them to the bathroom to change into dry clothes and have them sit on the potty to see if they need to finish up. You can remind them, “Pee and poop go in the potty,” but avoid making a big fuss.

If your child starts having lots of accidents after they seem to be doing well with potty training, take a step back and look at what else is going on in their life. Are they stressed about a big change like a new sibling or starting school? Are they constipated? Coming down with an illness?

Often, a sudden increase in accidents is a sign that your child is dealing with some other physical or emotional issue. Address the underlying problem and be patient as they get back on track with using the toilet. In the meantime, consider using training pants or pull-ups to save your sanity and theirs.

Above all, remember that accidents are not a sign of failure or defiance, they’re just part of the learning process. Stay upbeat, keep your sense of humour, and trust that your child will get there eventually. Celebrating their successes and staying positive through the setbacks will help them feel confident and motivated to keep trying.

Tip No. 7: Get Out of the House and Put Potty Training to the Test

Once your child is having some success using the toilet at home, it’s important to give them opportunities to practise their new skills in different settings. After all, you want them to learn that the potty isn’t just something they use at your house!

Start small by taking short outings to places with easily accessible bathrooms, like the grocery store or a friend’s house. Before you leave, have your child try to use the potty. Then let them know that if they need to go while you’re out, you’ll take them to the bathroom.

Bring along a portable potty seat or folding toilet insert so they feel comfortable and secure using an unfamiliar toilet. And pack a bag with extra underwear, pants, and wipes in case of accidents.

While you’re out, make a point to take regular bathroom breaks, even if your child says they don’t need to go. Prompt them to try every hour or so, and especially before you get in the car to head home.

If they do have an accident while you’re out, don’t panic. Calmly clean them up, remind them that pee and poop go in the potty, and carry on with your outing. The more matter-of-fact you can be, the less likely they are to feel ashamed or anxious about using bathrooms away from home.

As your child gets more comfortable using the toilet in different places, start venturing out for longer periods and going to places where bathrooms may be less convenient, like the park or the zoo. With practice and patience, they’ll learn that they can use any toilet, anywhere, and that accidents aren’t the end of the world.

Tip No. 8: Nighttime Potty Training is a Whole Different Ball Game

While some children naturally stay dry overnight once they’re potty trained during the day, many continue to need diapers or pull-ups at night for months or even years. And that’s perfectly normal and okay.

Nighttime dryness is largely dependent on biology, not behaviour. It happens when your child’s body starts producing a hormone that slows down urine production overnight. This usually kicks in sometime between ages 3 and 7, with most kids being consistently dry at night by age 5 or 6.

Until your child’s body develops this nighttime bladder control, there’s not a whole lot you can do to “train” them to stay dry overnight. Forcing them to go without diapers before they’re ready will likely just lead to frustration and lots of middle-of-the-night sheet changes.

That said, there are a few things you can do to lay the groundwork for eventual nighttime dryness:

Limit drinks in the hour or two before bedtime and have them use the toilet right before they get in bed.

Consider waking them to use the bathroom before you go to bed yourself. Sometimes this catch will help them stay dry till morning.

When they wake up dry, praise them and let them know their body is learning to hold the pee all night.

If they’re consistently waking up dry, try going without a diaper or pull-up and see what happens. Just protect the mattress with a waterproof pad in case of accidents.

The key is to follow your child’s lead and not push nighttime potty training before they’re developmentally ready. Trust that it will happen when their body is ready, and in the meantime, know that it’s very common for kids to need nighttime protection long after they’re using the toilet during the day.

Tip No. 9: Give Lots of Grace, to Your Child and Yourself

Potty training is a big deal for little kids, and it can also be a stressful and emotionally charged process for parents. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing your child’s progress to other kids’ or putting pressure on yourself to “get it done” by a certain deadline.

But the truth is, every child is different and will potty train in their own time and in their own way. Some pick it up seemingly overnight, others take weeks or months of start-and-stop progress. And setbacks and regressions are totally normal, especially during times of transition or stress.

So as much as you can, try to relax and trust the process. Celebrate the small victories and don’t sweat the accidents or off days. Keep things positive and give your child lots of encouragement, but also know when to back off and give them (and yourself) a break.

Potty training is not a race or a reflection of your parenting skills. With time, patience, and plenty of grace, your child will get there. And even the most stubborn resisters won’t be going off to college in diapers.

In the meantime, remember to take care of yourself too. Potty training can be exhausting and isolating, so make sure you’re getting breaks and support when you need it. Vent to friends who get it, tag in your partner or other caregivers when you’re feeling frustrated, and don’t be afraid to put potty training on pause if it’s making you or your child miserable.

You’re doing a great job, mama. Potty training is hard work, but it’s also a normal and necessary part of your child’s development. With the right mindset and strategies, you’ll get through it – and someday soon, diapers will be a distant memory. Hang in there!

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