How to Potty Train Early: 10 Steps to Potty Graduation

Even though I already wrote a lengthy post on early potty training, I keep having requests for a concise, step-by-step guide. So, here goes.

1. Assemble your potty training supplies.

2. Start sitting your child on the potty, fully dressed, for a few minutes each day. A good time to do this is when you are using the toilet yourself. Keep a basket of board books in the bathroom and make potty time fun.

3. After a month or so, begin sitting your child, diaperless, on the potty after naps and first thing in the morning. This is a typical time for elimination.

4. When and if your child relieves him or herself, praise the heck of him/her. Lots of smiles and clapping.

5. Be sure to associate the act with the potty; either say “pee pee in the potty,” give a hand sign for pee or toilet, or something like that, so that your child associates the act with the place.

6. Also at this time, begin taking your child to the potty at the first sign of a bowel movement (he or she is grunting, has a red face, giving cues). I prefer to train for bowel movements first, because 1. they are less frequent, 2. they have readily apparent physical cues, and 3. you don’t want to clean them out of cotton training pants.

7. When your child is reliably trained for bowel movements (took my kids about 1-2 mths), increase the frequency you take your child to the potty for pee breaks. Typically, after sleeping and after eating (meals and snacks).

8. When your child is becoming more reliable (it was around 15-16 mths for mine), set aside a week and make the transition to cotton training pants during the day. I say a week because your child will make drastic strides in understanding his or her body and its functioning in that time, provided you are there to hover and facilitate. Don’t put anything over the training pants; use dresses for girls and big t-shirts for boys. When going out in public, use a waterproof cover and take the Potette Plus along so that if you’re out for more than an hour, you can take him/her for a potty break.

9. Continue to take your child for regular potty sits. If your child has an accident in the training pants, immediately take him/her to the potty for a sit, even if there’s nothing left. Repeat the mantra “peepee (or poopoo) goes in the potty” over and over. Your child needs to make the connection between the place and the act.

10. Expect accidents. Expect to take 1 step back for every 2 forward. Do not punish a child for accidents or yell at him. Repeat the mantra and stay the course, and eventually, it will click.

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