How to potty train your kid and all the things you need to do it

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  • For many parents, potty training is a time to celebrate (no more diapers!), but it can be, well, poopy.
  • With the right tools an techniques, you can get your kid potty trained in a short amount of time.
  • We break down how to potty train in simple steps and offer up essential recommendations for tools that help get the job done.
  • "Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step-By-Step Plan On how to Break Free from Dirty Diapers" is the best potty training book we've found, and the Baby Bjorn Toilet Trainer is an extremely helpful tool that keeps your kiddo safe and secure on the toilet.

Learning how to use the potty is a milestone for both toddlers and parents. It really does feel like you've climbed Poop Everest by the time potty training is over.

The moment you see the connection happen (oh, you mean when my tummy hurts, I need to run to the potty and go) in your kid's eyes, you'll feel incredibly proud. You'll also feel like, yeah, I got this parenting thing down. Score one for us parents.

So let me help you find your way into poop heaven (I can't promise this will be my last poop joke), and give you a tried and true method to potty training in a weekend with all the essentials you need for success.

First, we need to break down potty training into three different steps: before, during, and after. While you may think the "during" part is the most critical, it's actually the preparation or before that's the key.

Here's everything you need to potty train your kid:

Keep scrolling to learn how to potty train a kid in 3 stages:

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Step 1: Before you potty train

Step 1: Before you potty train

A good friend and mom of three once told me that there's a potty training window, and if you miss it, the whole process is harder. While I think this is true to some extent, I know now that setting up potty training correctly helps widen the window.

Once you've decided potty training is coming soon (one to three months before), start gathering the necessary potty training essentials. Let's call it, our poop training arsenal.

Poop Training Arsenal
  1. You need a book like "Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step-By-Step Plan On how to Break Free from Dirty Diapers" by Brandi Brucks. The author's method is hands down smart, easy to follow, and a sure fire way to succeed. It's a short read with big font and quick and dirty tips that make potty training easier.
  2. Next, invest in a couple of toilet options for your kiddo. What worked for me was the Baby Bjorn Toilet Trainer and the Summer Infant My Size Potty. Some parents prefer a toilet seat that converts to a toddler seat. You also might consider a travel potty for the car to cover potty emergencies on the go. An excellent choice is the Summer Infant My Fun Sticker Potty.
  3. Set up your reward system with stickers, candy, or toys. The Potty Training Chart comes with an easy to hang sticker chart and star stickers. Each kid likes different kinds of rewards. I rewarded my son with his own Halloween candy (yes, yes, I did) while my daughter preferred chocolate-covered cherries. Find what motivates your child and prepare ahead of time.
  4. Pull-ups for naptime and overnight. Huggies Nighttime Pull-ups work great.
  5. Tons of drink options for your kiddo to choose. Try not to worry about sugar when stocking your cupboards with drinks. You want your kid to drink a lot during the process. Honest Kids Pouches have less sugar.
  6. Order big kid underpants or panties from a source you trust. When it comes to underwear, I found Gap Kids underwear to be the best quality. You want loose underwear to make pulling up and down easy for your potty training toddler.
  7. Potty books for kiddos to read in the weeks leading up to potty training. Read to them a few minutes each day to help prepare them to take the plunge. While there are a lot of children's books dealing with potty training, some of my favorites include:

Once you've read the potty training book, ordered the necessary essentials, then begin planting the potty training seeds. Every time you change a diaper, say things like, "Oh, your diaper is dirty. Let's put on a nice, fresh, clean one," or "I can't wait until you're a big kid and go in the potty."

Let them watch you go to the bathroom and try to make the prospect fun and easy. But be clear, potty training is coming. I had difficulty with my son, who told me that he wanted to keep his diapers because he thought stopping to pee in the potty was a stupid idea. I bought him the Daniel Tiger Potty Time Toy as an incentive.

Buy "Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step-By-Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty Diapers" on Amazon for $10.19 Buy the Baby Bjorn Toilet Trainer on Amazon for $34.99 Buy the Summer Infant My Size Potty on Amazon for $26.78

Step 2: During potty training

Step 2: During potty training

Oh crap, I have to start potty training. That's how I felt with my first kid, but by my second, I knew exactly what to do. My method is based on the book "Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step-By-Step Plan On how to Break Free from Dirty Diapers". The author is brilliant and really helped me to succeed.

  1. Set aside a weekend for potty training. For the weekend, your only goal is to potty train. This means no play dates, trips to the park, or anything other than watching your kid. I found this to be the hardest part. You can't cook, watch television, or do anything (fold clothes, clean the kitchen, etc.) that might distract you from the task at hand.
  2. In the morning, give your child a hearty breakfast. Right after breakfast, make a big show about how it's time to get rid of all the diapers. Take off his diaper and throw it away. Then round up all the diapers in the house and leave them outside. Tell your toddler the Potty Ninja is coming to get them later. When he's not looking, hide them somewhere to donate later.
  3. Put his new underwear on and tell him how big and strong he is now.
  4. Show him the sticker chart and treats. One treat for a pee and two for poop. Put the treats in a jar on the table, so they are easy to see. Make sure he knows you mean business.
  5. Now, you watch. Every 20 minutes or so say, "Tell me when you need to potty." Don't ask a yes or no question like "Do you have to potty?" If you do, then, the answer will always be no.
  6. Once he does pee or poo in the potty, give him a sticker and treat. Then give him his favorite beverage. Have him drink as much as possible. You want him to have to pee again quickly.
  7. Repeat (watch, pee/poop, award, drink).
  8. Have him practice pulling up and down his underwear. You won't always be with him, and he will need to do this himself.
Tips for Potty Training Success
  • The first time peeing in the potty is the hardest one to achieve. Some kids are holders and resist peeing in the potty. Hold firm and remember you got this.
  • The minute you look away is the minute an accident will happen. It's hard, but watching is essential to anticipate when your toddler needs to go to the potty.
  • The more times he goes in the potty that first day, the stronger the training will be. So remember liquids are an integral part of ensuring he has to go a lot.
  • During naptime put him in a pull-up if you want to. They should look completely different from his regular diapers and call them big kid underpants, not diapers.
  • Keep track of how many times he pees or set a timer in between, so you start to become accustomed to how long it takes him to need to pee.
  • Learn his poop signs. Does he disappear? Or become really quiet?
  • When he does pee/poop make a huge deal out of it. With both my kids, I had a poopy dance we did in the living room. We even talked about the size and shapes of the poops.
  • If he has an accident, don't shame him but make sure he knows you expect him to pee in the potty.
  • Keep some books by the toilet he can look at during the really big poops.

Step 3: After potty training

Step 3: After potty training

It might take a few weeks for your little cutie to get the hang of potty training. Even when he's successful at home, he might have accidents at preschool or out and about. It doesn't mean you've failed or he wasn't ready. Peeing in the potty is physical and emotional. Mastering the art of pooping takes time.

In the days and weeks that follow your potty training weekend, keep the following in mind:
  • Before leaving the house, a restaurant, etc., always make sure he goes to the bathroom. Put him on the toilet and tell him to try if he says he doesn't.
  • If your kid goes to preschool, bring his caretakers into the training. Ask them to have him pee every 30 minutes at first.
  • Dress him in loose pants or shorts for the first couple of weeks. You want to make it easy for him to pull his clothing up and down.
  • Keep the reward system in place for a couple of weeks to ensure success.
  • Don't give up if he has accidents off and on. Keep talking to him about the potty and repeating he's a big boy now.
  • Remember to be patient and give it time. If after one month, your kid has constant accidents then maybe it was too early.

Once your kiddo is potty trained, you can say goodbye to diapers forever. Now, that's a lot of motivation. Also, when you and your little one succeed the accomplishment is real. It's something you've done together, and you'll want to jump off the potty and scream, We did it! We did it! Now, go on, and become a poop master.

Buy "Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step-By-Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty Diapers" on Amazon for $10.19 Buy the Baby Bjorn Toilet Trainer on Amazon for $34.99 Buy the Summer Infant My Size Potty on Amazon for $26.78
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