Potty Talk: 5 Tips to Potty Train your Toddler


So not only did I successfully get my child to wear pigtails in her hair for longer than thirty seconds (which I am extremely proud of by the way), I can now officially state that she is well on her way to being potty trained. I was a little nervous to write about this on here, as I didn't want to jinx anything, but we've been gradually getting closer and closer to a diaper-less existence. So for those of you who are childless and uninterested in the details of potty training a two-and-a-half-foot person, feel free to skip this one. For the rest, you may read on at your own risk and I warn you that I will use words like 'pee' and 'number two' pretty frequently:

Now I have to be honest and say that I have assumed more of a support role in the potty training process. Being a first time parent, I honestly had zero expectations of when Violet would train on the potty. (Well, I did assume by age three as my niece and nephew both were trained by then, but that seemed like a long time away). The real bulk of the work has been done by Violet's sitter. She encouraged me to start the process (I really hadn't even considered it other than letting Violet sit on the potty and use toilet paper for fun - she likes to do what her mama does) But serious and actual down and dirty training? The thought hadn't even crossed my mind.

That all changed when Violet's sitter wrote a question in the journal that she sends home each day - "So when were you thinking about starting to potty train Violet?" Suddenly it was before me in all of its toilet-glory, and I decided to go for it. She had shown interest in the potty, enjoyed the potty for pretend play, and I figured it couldn't hurt to harness that enthusiasm.

Sooo here we are. Yesterday my daughter peed twice on the potty at the library (yes a public restroom!) and informed me not once, but twice at home yesterday that she had to pee. She can now pee within seconds of sitting, unlike at the beginning where we sat. And sat. And saaaaat. She is going to be 21 months old tomorrow and I'm amazed at her potty abilities.

Now I realize that every child is different (the sitter's boys trained much later than her daughter who was trained by 20 months!) and the methods that have worked so far for me may not work for you. But for those of you who don't have an amazing babysitter who walks you through the joy of potty training, I thought this could potentially be helpful. So here's how we went about it (in all of its glorious detail):

1. Make sitting on the potty a part of your daily routine
We started out by sitting Violet on the training potty whenever we would normally change her diaper. We'd take her wet diaper off, place her on the potty for a few minutes, and finally wipe and put the new diaper on. That way we weren't wasting a ton of diapers and she just got used to sitting on it routinely. (I'll admit I was kind of annoyed by this extra step initially. Extra work is not a welcome phenomenon in my world). If she peed, great, if not - no biggie. The point was to get her used to sitting on the potty on a regular basis.

2. Test out training underwear with scheduled potty visits
After about a month of this, we decided to go for it one day and put her in training underwear. We sat Violet on the training potty every 20-30 minutes, unless of course she asked or seemed to need to go sooner.

One hiccup I ran into is that Violet's enthusiasm for the potty came to a sudden halt at home. At the sitter's there are two other potty trained children and I'm sure the potty was a fun group activity, but at home when I asked if she needed to sit on the potty I started to get a decided 'NO!' Thanks to my mom this issue got resolved in a really easy way. She babysat Violet over the weekend and simply put her on the potty without asking or telling her first. Problem solved (and why didn't I think of that!)

3. Keep it positive & fun
There were some accidents during this time, but we never treated them negatively. Just cleaned up the mess and moved on. (Which is way easier when you have mostly wood floors and not carpet by the way!) Now the successes? Those we celebrate! We clap, sing silly songs, and of course tell Violet how much of a 'big girl' she is and how proud we are of her. She is always thrilled and claps right along with us - so cute.

We also inform everyone and their mother of her potty-training successes ("Violet peed on the potty TWO times today!!!") Whenever we do this she gets such a happy and proud look on her face. It's pretty freaking adorable. (Oh and sorry to all our friends and relatives who have to hear about my daughter's bodily functions - and thanks for making it seem like the most exciting news you've ever heard!)

4. Don't push too hard
As far as number two is concerned, that's still hit or miss. We've had two successes, but she often gets pretty upset about doing it on the potty, so I've let her use her diaper when she chooses. We're really trying to associate potty training with positive feelings and not negative ones, and I feel like she's on the younger side of things as far as potty-training is concerned. Maybe she's just not completely ready for that part yet - and that's okay.

5. Encourage self-awareness
Just recently, Violet took the next big step and started informing us when she has to go. Usually she comes up to me and says, "Mommy...pee pee!" and off we go! If she doesn't ask within half an hour, we usually will go and try anyway. Sometimes she gets so into what she's doing or playing with I worry that her mind is on other things than her bladder (I'll admit that her bladder isn't always the first thing on my mind either!) She's also woken up from most of her naps dry, which is pretty awesome, although at night she still goes in her diaper. (At least for now).

Overall I'm pretty happy with how things are panning out, and if all goes well, maybe she'll even be fully trained by the time we go to Australia (it would be amaaaazing not to have to lug too many diapers along! I know this probably all sounds excruciatingly slow and everything, and I know that some people go cold turkey to underwear, or use pull-ups, or a billion different methods that I have no clue about, but this slow gradual process has worked really well for us. I'm going to admit that it's more work than just changing her diaper, and requires a lot of time and patience, but it will pay off in the end. Slow and steady wins the race, right?!

And Violet's favorite part? FLUSHING of course! She even has a method - close the lid, flush, open the lid, watch, then re-close and clap. (You cannot flush while the lid is open apparently. Where do they come up with these ideas?)  So there you have it. And if you have survived this post I applaud you and wish you much luck and a babysitter-fairy who magically appear to help you with all of your anti-diaper endeavors. xo, Lauren

P.S. We're now embarking on potty training journey number two with Lucy! You can read about what we're doing the same/differently right here.

P.PS. The Hot Topic Post: Breastfeeding, Weaning, & Sleep Training + On Mom Guilt + On Sleep

*update: we initially used this training potty in white - I liked the height of it, the fact that it had a backrest, and the simple design. Now we've switched to this potty seat and love it so much!


  1. Congrats to Violet!! Just curious, what potty did you use to train her? My daughter is 15 months so she has a ways yet but I'd like to be prepared and know that something works (in your case it has!). Also I'm not sure if I quite get step 1.... You put her on before she pottied or after a diaper change??

  2. We used this potty the Baby Bjorn potty chair in white:


    And as for your second question, we'd take off her wet diaper (whenever it was time to change it), sat her on the potty for a few minutes (and if she peed great, if not that was okay - the point was mainly just to get her used to sitting on the potty regularly) then we'd wipe and put on the new diaper. Hope that makes more sense!

  3. THANK YOU! definitely clears things up :)

  4. I have a question for Lauren's readers (who might be inclined to answer me). We don't have the floor space for a separate potty. Literally, you bump into the toilet upon entering our bathroom and the rest of our tiny apartment is carpeted.

    Has anyone had success using a child's seat that goes over the regular toilet seat? We have this one: http://www.amazon.com/Prince-Lionheart-weePOD-Berry-Blue/dp/B005ZBHZCK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1328887766&sr=8-3

    My fear is that since it isn't accessible to Behr on his own, he wont see it as something he can do. Thoughts?

    1. We have both a seat that goes over the toilet seat and a separate potty, Ben will not use the separate one at all.

  5. We only used a seat that goes over the regular toilet seat. Our child care provider suggested this because, as she put it, "your child is going to use the regular toilet the rest of his life. Why start him out any differently now?" And also, I'm not going to lie, I didn't want to have to clean out a little one. We had a small stool available to help him, but mostly since we were around when he was going anyway, the height issue wasn't that big of a deal. Now he is 4 and uses the regular potty without the child seat no problem.

    Regarding "numero dos," our son was fully "pee trained" for about a month and a half before he was consistenly pooping on the potty. We had poop accidents for a while and then one day he was suddenly fine with pooping on the potty. Like someone flipped a switch!

  6. Its more sanitary to flush with the lid closed ..she's just ahead of her time! Thanks for the advice. I have an 18 month old that I'm ready to try some of these ideas with.

    1. It IS much (much!) more sanitary to flush with the lid closed. Seriously. If you are into at-home science experiments, just put a little food coloring in a clean toilet bowl, tape some white computer paper up on the walls around the commode in the bathroom, flush, and be horrified.

  7. Are you kidding? I was glued to this post. Reading every word as my little one is approaching 18 months and of course potty training is in the back of my head. And just in the past few days, Sheila wants to go into the bathroom and flush the toilet and play with the toilet (baby steps) so that is a step in the right direction. Keep these updates coming because I'll want to take in all of the info I can - and thanks for the rec on the potty too. Hope it continues to go well for you guys - that's awesome!

  8. We have the same potty! And I think you are totally right when you say "Slow and steady wins the race, right?!" We haven't officially started training yet, but we do set Shelby on the potty before bath time (she has peed once)! Way to go V! And thanks Lauren for the helpful tips!

  9. oh isn't it fun! (sorry I'm so far behind on my google reader!). My eldest is 2.5 and we have been been toilet training for a month or so now and he's going great. Of course, there is bribery for once he wees or poos, but it's working! Nappies just for sleeps and jocks other times.

  10. I've been doing all these things with my 19 month old for a week or so now and she seems very interested. I was afraid at first that she may still be too young but by how well she responded to it is reassuring. I, like you, haven't been too pushy with the idea and only using positive feedback during success. It seems as if we're on the same pace and is very pleasant reading your imput. Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. Bleh, I wish we were having such success with our daughter. I guess we need to be more consistent with sitting her on the potty more often. She was showing a lot of promise early on. She even went number two in the potty on my birthday! (She was 20 months then) Then I started babysitting a younger baby & she regressed. Now she's almost 26 months & showing very little interest. :/ We're trying for baby #2 now & I hope that doesn't lead to more regression. Here's hoping! *fingers crossed*

  12. it is best to wait till the child is ''overly ready'' before you start potty or toilet training. its great if they are aware of whats happening in the nappy but that doesn't necessarily mean they are ready. For me sitting the child on the toilet or potty at certain times of day (some parents do this from as soon as the baby can sit!) is not toilet training...........it is toilet timing! this process can take months!!!

    with my kids (girls) we have trained them just after age 2. in the summer so they can wee on the grass!! or walk around in the buff and if they have an accident its ok. they were completely nappy free after about 2 weeks.

    toilet training for months on end can be very tiring for us parents and imagine how the child must feel! they would probably feel a bit over it too!

    a 2 to 3 year old can really understand and even hold it! if you are at the shops with a trolly full of food shopping and they have to go the should be able to tell you and hold it till you get to a toilet.

    Positive reinforcement works a treat, 1st on the advice of a 4 time mother ...and close friend i started rewarding each toilet sucess. she would get a stamp on the back of her hand! and for my 2 year old that was soo exciting! she was so proud walking around showing everyone! and it was even better if nanna or daddy had taken her to the toilet and she got to show them where her special stamp was and they gave it to her!

    they are all different, but like my mother says, they all talk, walk and go to the toilet on their own by the time tey start school ;) no rush, let them do it when they are ready! good luck to everyone!

  13. also, if you choose to potty train over the summer its good to try not to book in too many outings, stay around the home, beach, friends houses outside and let them go nappy free the entire time! if its a close friend and they have an accident on the grass, they will understand. give it your full attention and it should take more and a couple of weeks! xxxx AWALYS use praise, even for accidents! wohoo!! you did wees!!! its ok mummy will clean it up... even get them to help clean it up. next time we go to the toilet, or run them outside onto the grass! :)

  14. Have the child pick favorite character panties. Have the child pick a favorite color M&M. (usually yellow) They go on potty - get a M&M. Works every time! Took no time at all!! And they get to wear their new panties!! YAY!!!!!! They're part of the process. . .they reap the rewards! :)

  15. I found this on pin interest, and I have to admit that at number two I literally slapped myself on the forehead. Duh! I've been asking my son for the past several weeks if he wants to use the potty (he was almost completely potty trained, then one day decided he didn't like it anymore) to which the reply is always an emphatic NO! Why didn't I think about just putting him on it without asking him first!?!?! Imagine the possibilities! LOL!! :)

  16. Try the towel potty training method.

  17. I started the baby steps with my 16 month old just trying to introduce it to him so it wasn't some scary concept and with in the week he had already pee pee in his big boy chair and now almost 17 months tells me by pointing to his diaper area at least once every day. I'd encourage an early start because some kids are just as done with diapers as the parents.



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