Ok. We did it. And it wasn't AS BAD as I thought it would be. We potty trained our daughter in three days. I have to be honest, I avoided potty training as much as possible. Diapers really aren't THAT BAD, right? But, Lydia recently turned three and I knew we had to bite the bullet. After a bit of research, I put together all my teacher / behavior management tips and tricks and assembled a plan for how to potty train a toddler. And, IT WORKED! We potty trained Lydia in three days.
How to Potty Train a Toddler in Three Days
Signs of Potty Readiness:
A few things to remember, before a certain age children can't control their bladders or bowel movements. Most people potty train between 2 and 3 1/2 years.
Before trying to potty train, your child should be demonstrating at least SOME of these signs:
- can walk and run steadily
- regularly has dry diapers
- bowel movements are on a somewhat consistent schedule
- can remove his or her own pants and diaper
- demonstrates interest in the bathroom and underwear
For us? Our daughter showed all of these signs EXCEPT interest in the potty. In fact, she told me that she didn't care about the potty at ALL and that we could “just keep changing her”. It's one of the reasons we waited until she turned three to potty train and something we discussed extensively with the teachers at her daycare. We (and they) noticed that she demonstrated every other sign of potty readiness, including interest in wearing underwear. So we decided it was time to bite the bullet.
Preparing to Start:
Spend a week or so TALKING up the idea. It is time for your child to be a “big kid”. This is an exciting step. We bought fancy underwear about two weeks before d-day, and let our daughter look at them. We showed her the potty chart we created and talked about what prizes she would earn when she filled the chart (for her it was a Disney Princess dress). By the time it all started, she was pretty pumped.
Starting the morning of Day One…..that's it. No more diapers or pull-ups except at nap or nighttime. Yes, I'm serious. Why? Because your toddler needs to experience what it feels like to be WET. Up until now, they've probably never even noticed when they pee or poop. Because those diapers caught everything. They didn't have to pay attention. Prepare yourself. There WILL be accidents. Your goal? To be calm and positive (even though there's pee all over your floor). Remember that this is a process, and your child is learning something new. The goal is that your child starts to notice what it feels like to need to use the restroom, and that they TRY to use the potty.
Our Process on Day One:
We started our day, and began the process. We pulled out ALLLLLL the big girl underwear, and Lydia selected her favorite pair (for the first day she just wore underwear and a shirt). We pulled out our potty training chart and reminded her that she got to color in a crown every time she put pee or poop in the potty. Our reward system had a couple of “levels”. We ordered a BUNCH of small Disney figurines (they're her favorite). We lined them all up, and told her every time she put pee or poop in the potty she would earn one and color a crown. Then once she filled up the WHOLE crown chart, she'd get her princess dress. Why? Because filling an entire behavior chart is a LOT for a toddler. She needed something that had instant gratification and a larger goal. The short term prize can be as simple as a small piece or candy or a sticker, we just pulled out the big guns and selected something we knew she would try hard to earn.
For ALL of day one, we set a timer to go off every twenty minutes. Every twenty minutes we walked Lydia to the bathroom and tried the potty. To be honest, some of those times, she wasn't very happy about going. And she still had accidents. She peed on the floor six times. Every time she TRIED the potty, we praised her and made a BIG deal out of it. When she peed in the potty, you'd think she'd graduated from Harvard. By the end of day one, we'd only had two successes and I was starting to doubt my plan.
Our Experience on Day Two:
After reading a million how to potty train a toddler articles the night before, I felt ready to jump in again on day two. Every single article I read stated that day one contained a LOT of accidents. Day two, we reviewed the potty training chart again. We set the timer for every twenty minutes. Mid-way through the morning, Lydia stopped playing and announced on her own that she needed to use the potty. And she DID. Day two was a mixed bag, we had SOME accidents, but not as many. We had way more successes and it was clear that she was starting to understand the feeling of needing to use the bathroom.
Our Experience on Day Three:
The light went on! Want to know how many accidents we had on day three? ONE. At this point, we stopped walking Lydia to the potty and started asking her every 30 minutes if she needed to use the potty. Once we saw that she could feel the signs, we wanted her to start to take herself to the restroom.
Lydia went back to school the next day, and had NO accidents. She was able to tell her teachers when she needed to use the bathroom. And we've even ventured out into the world (ha)! One thing that has helped us a LOT, Lydia is very small for her age and I was worried about the size the toilets in public restrooms. At a friends' suggestion, we bought a foldable potty seat to put on the public toilets. It creates a smaller hole, and Lydia feels MUCH more comfortable.
Shop Potty Training Must Haves:
- 25 Free Potty Training Printables
- how to potty train in three days by the garcia diaries — I love her printable if you want something a little less princess-y
- how to potty train a boy
- daniel goes to the potty — this book was a HUGE hit
And there you have it, how to potty train a toddler in three days. Have you potty trained your child? Leave any tips, tricks or questions in the comments!