You can potty train your child in just 3 days! Here’s how we did it (twice!). . .
Simple 3 Day Potty Training Method
If there’s one thing I dreaded as a toddler mom it was the daunting task of potty training. I once thought I’d be the mom that conquered potty training before my daughter turned two. After all, she is a genius and she had no reservations when starting to use the potty at 18 months. Then life got hard and I got wise (I think). I realized there was really no rush (which was confirmed by this recent potty training article warning parents against training too soon) and in the midst of all of the craziness we were experiencing, there was no good reason to add one more battle to the list. When I discovered I was pregnant with my second child, I obtained a new goal.
Potty train my daughter by the time she’s three and make it stick by the time baby #2 arrived.
The pressure was off.
Still, as our designated potty training weekend approached, I got more and more scared of what it would be like. Our sweet girl is smart but so easily distracted. What if she just can’t focus in enough?
Now that I am on the other side of the big transition, I am confident I made the right choice for my child and my family. Waiting to potty train made the transition so much easier. Of course, every child and every family is different so I won’t try to tell you how you should do anything. But I’ve realized the number 3 is magical when it comes to potty training. Waiting until age 3 allowed my children to be completely ready to learn how to use the potty (and kept mistakes and messes minimal) and designating a 3 day time period for training brought focus and excitement to the task.
Update: We have since applied this method to our second child (a boy) and it worked just as well!
Our Potty Party Weekend
Although our girl had used the potty with no problem (for both pee and poop), she seemed way too distracted to use it consistently. But knowing she was not afraid was the first battle won and a good indication that she was ready. I bought her first potty a year before we trained and she used it on and off since then. I think that early introduction without pressure to use it all the time helped ease her into it. I also bought her first panties around the same time. She often wore them over her diaper (my modest girl would not wear a dress, skirt or nightgown without something covering her bottom) but this also helped introduce her to something new and get her excited about the idea.
After we set our new goal of potty training by the time she was three, we looked at the calendar and found a weekend that we could plan nothing and that fell after any travel we had planned (I did not want to potty train right before a road trip). About a month before our scheduled weekend, we started to encourage her to use the potty right before bed time (to learn to empty her bladder) and again right when she woke up. She still wore a diaper at night but this helped her keep it dry consistently and warmed her up to the idea of using the potty. She resisted a bit but eventually got excited to use the potty at these designated times. Around the same time we started to tell her that we were planning a Potty Party Weekend when she would learn to use the potty all the time so that she could wear panties like a big girl (no diaper). She also knew that her Potty Party Weekend involved lots of treats and prizes, not to mention a potty chart with stickers AND a major potty prize if she made it through the weekend. By the time the big weekend arrived, she was pumped and ready to go.
Party Set Up:
I treated this like a real party. Balloons and decorations. I set up my command station on a bench in my living room. Our guest bath is only a few yards from where we spent most of our days. My supplies:
- Chart and star stickers. She got one star for peepee and two stars for poopie in the potty. 20 total stars = her big Potty Party Prize.
- Extra panties. I had 20 pairs in a basket.
- A peepee prize basket and a poopie prize basket. The poopie prizes were a little more enticing just to give extra incentive as I wasn’t sure how she’d do with pooping in the potty. She got to pick one out every time she went in the potty.
- A laundry pail for wet clothes (after an accident).
- Towels. Lots of towels. When sitting on the couch, I made her sit on a towel just in case.
- Extra clothes (although she mostly stayed in a t-shirt and panties all day).
- A can of Lysol.
- Wet wipes.
Potty Set Up:
I made sure the bathroom was ready so that when she had to go, we could go quickly. If I had to use the potty in between (I was 27 weeks pregnant so I think I went more than she did), I put everything back together so it was ready for her.
- Potty seat/step stool. Mommy’s Helper Contoured Cushie Step Up Potty (affiliate link) is the best one available right now. It’s a different brand than the one we used but is basically the same. It’s so easy to use and it’s very comfortable for her to feel like she’s using the big potty.
- Portable potty seat (which we used as a stool). I bought this one first about a year ago and she used it a bit when first learned to go to the potty. She prefers the seat that goes on the big potty now but I highly recommend this Safety 1st Comfy Cushy Potty Trainer (affiliate link) if you want to go the portable/detached route. It truly is cushy and comfy!
- Wet wipes for poopie. Because I wasn’t prepared for how hard it is to wipe your child’s butt.
In a nutshell, here’s how the weekend went:
Day 1: She was truly ready to go and excited to use the potty. There was no resistance at all. But for the first 1/2 of the day, she had to pee every 5-10 minutes and because of that she had 4 minor accidents. This got me really discouraged. I thought something was wrong with her. Why was she going so much?! My friend Angela was texting and coaching me throughout the day and she assured me that it would “click” at some point soon. She had to learn to hold it in. She had to learn what it truly felt like. I had my doubts. She did go poopie in the potty in the morning without any hesitation so that little triumph gave me hope. Almost magically by mid-afternoon it had clicked. She was going every couple of hours and didn’t have any accidents.
Day 2: I was nervous that putting her in a diaper overnight would cause her to take a step backwards. She woke up around 7am and came into our room declaring that she had to go potty. Yes! It has clicked. She had one small accident in the morning but other than that she was a champ all day long. . .telling me exactly when she had to go and rushing to the bathroom.
Day 3: Once again I wondered if the overnight diaper would set us back. But just as she did the day before, she ran into our room around 7am announcing she had to go to the potty. There were no accidents on day 3 and we even ventured out to a friend’s house for lunch (they only live 10 min away so I figured it was safe to take a car ride). That evening my family came over for the Potty Party culmination where she received the ultimate Potty Party Prize: a brand new princess dress.
Again, I would never try to tell anyone how to do anything so personal and dependent on your child’s personality but I couldn’t help but share that for us, waiting a bit longer made the process so much easier. My girl truly was ready and although I wasn’t naive to think there would never be a public accident (I was counting on it), we truly had only one or two mishaps in public following our potty party weekend!
After hearing from several other mommy friends, I realize this experience is pretty typical if your child is ready to be potty trained. Most moms said Day 1 is hard as they learn to hold it and not go every 5 minutes but it usually clicks later that day. Days 2 and 3 are about driving home their “new normal”. Making a big deal about the experience (thus the party) and rewarding them for every little triumph is key, I believe in getting them to focus in on the process.
We used this method with our son when we was ready (also around age 3). It was a little harder to get him comfortable with using the potty but he basically followed this same progression and was good to go by day 3. We taught our son to pee sitting down because I didn’t want to deal with the messes. I am happy to say I’ve only had to clean up after him a few times!
I’d love to hear about your potty training experiences as I know there are many ways to go about it. It’s so wonderful that we can all learn from each other.
Post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.