Potty Training

Dr Organic Mommy Potty

Potty Training Prep:

It starts way before you think you need it. Exposing your child to the toilet as a baby will help make the process easier when they are a toddler. 

There are two schools of thought: exposure vs novelty. Some people believe in keeping the potty hidden until they are capable of starting the process. When I say exposure, I like the idea of using the potty as part of your daily routine starting at around 6 months old. (i.e. everyday before bath, they sit on the potty.) That said, when they no longer want to use it (which can happen between 12 and 18 months) you can take it away thus saving the novelty of it for when you are ready to potty train. 

The other thing I advise parents to do is to have their child throw away their diaper when they start walking between 10-16 months (pee diapers only). Also, you can make it annoying to change their diaper between 22-24 months plus. Even when they are in the middle of playing, change their diaper (though it is harder on you). When it becomes a nuisance they will be more likely to do it on their own and want more control over it, thus promoting autonomy which is what they crave at this developmental stage. 

Potty Training Journey:

When do you start? I do think the earlier the better but under 24 months, they are not physically able to really push their pants down by themselves so you have to be willing and able to help more. While ideally I like to start between 24 and 30 months (when some preschools require it), it is hard to give an ideal age because every child is different. The potty training process can vary from child to child, anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks. But if it doesn’t happen in 3 days, it doesn’t mean that it is not the right time. The key is to be consistent and stick with it. It’s best to give yourself 3-7 days at home where you can focus on getting it done. 

The big signs that show me a child is CAPABLE are:

  1. A child can communicate his/her needs
  2. They go into a corner to poop or they turn around. When they know poop is coming, that lets you know they are capable of moving them to the potty. 
  3. They let you know that they peed/pooped in their diaper.
  4. They show interest in the toilet or when you use the bathroom. 

There are several methods out there.  Let me describe my favorite way:

  1. Always start with naked time first.
    • Explain to your child that they are a big kid and that they are LEARNING how to use the potty. Just like they will learn to ride a tricycle, this is a learning process. If you have a newborn baby on the way or there is resentment toward a younger sibling, do not use the words “big kid.”
    • If your child doesn’t want to get naked, then have them just wear a shirt. If you have an older sibling, see if they will be willing to join in as to encourage your younger one to emulate your older one. Or do it with a friend and their child. The reason I say this is because often when children are in a daycare or preschool setting and see others use the potty, it can motivate them to start the training process. 
    • Naked time does not mean they can pee freely whenever/wherever they want, it just means that they can have the ability to pee more freely and actually feel the pee coming. When they start to pee, then you put them on the potty. When they are able to pee freely, it’s easier to make the connection that pee belongs in a potty vs being constrained by a diaper.
    • When you start to see your child do the pee dance or a little pee starts to dribble out say, “We pee on the potty,” and move them to the potty. It is important that your tone of voice is NOT stern or shaming. It should be more singsong and uplifting. Also, when sitting on the potty, say "I want to hear the pee in the potty!" When they don’t make it to the potty on time and poop on the floor, first don’t shame them, rather say “we poop in the potty” and move their body to the potty to see if they will continue pooping in the potty. 
    • While you are doing naked time, offer some extra liquids either through homemade popsicles, or fruit like watermelon and even fresh coconut water in order to help them pee more. However, if this backfires and they can’t hold pee in at all, then stop offering more liquids.
  2. Once your child can show you that they can pee in the potty by initiating it or when you prompt them* and do it on command at least 3-5 times in a day then you can move on to putting on pants next (pants that are easy to go up and down, no underwear).
    • I stick with pajama pants or cotton elastic waistband pants. You don’t want to deal with buttons and zippers. **Another problem I see parents encounter is that the child doesn’t know how to PUSH their pants down by themselves. Practice this by letting them get undressed before bath time and when you are playing dress up. Allow for plenty of opportunities to undress themselves and have dress up play time either before starting this journey or during.
      • On the prompting front- do not over prompt your child by saying “let’s go to the bathroom.” This is a fine line, but make sure to respect your child’s answer when they say no. If they say no and then start to pee, pick them up and say “we pee in the potty” and then put them on the potty.
  3. Once your child has no more accidents in pants only, then take small outings with pants on  (ie go to the gas station, or go down the street to get a smoothie).
    • You want to show the child that he/she can succeed while out. To further prevent them from peeing while out of the house, do try to make sure they pee before leaving the house. Personally, I don’t want to have to clean up pee from the car seat so I take a dog pee pad (see amazon store) and I put one under them in the car seat.
  4. Once they can successfully go out with pants on small errands and poop in the potty, you can move to underwear.
    • But please don’t rush this because underwear can resemble a diaper and feel like a diaper and they feel the fabric on their private part so it doesn’t feel as freeing. *if your child is having too many accidents after being potty trained go back to naked time without the underwear. 



Dr Organic Mommy Potty Training
  1. Use a potty chair & provide privacy if they like. The reason I like the potty is because it is more ergonomically designed to place them in a squatting position which is what children are used to (they also are used to standing). More on potty chair vs. toilet below.
  2. When you start to see them poop or make the face, take them and say, “We poop in the potty.”  If they don’t want to continue, offer privacy by turning around or waiting outside the bathroom. Kids love the word privacy and love to say it. That being said, it is common for kids to hold their poop in and not go until nap time or night time so don’t freak out. 
  3. If your child already suffers from constipation, then a diet change may be required before you start potty training in order to have more regular bowel movements.
  4. Get everyone in on potty training time!
    • I told my UPS guy and he told my son when he was 2 years 4 months that he wasn’t going to bring anymore diapers because he was a big kid. It makes a difference to have the  influence of others beyond mommy/daddy/caregiver. Or you can go the route of telling your toddler you will be donating their diapers and have them help put their diapers in a basket that they know will be donated.

If have diapers you want to donate, consider donating them to Baby2Baby

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I know when to use a potty chair vs the toilet?
I always say unless your child is over the age of 3, start with the potty first. If your child is struggling to poop on the toilet, add a step stool so that it places their body in more of a squatting position, thus making it easier for their poop to come out vs letting their feet hang off the toilet. Once your child requests to use the toilet, let them and follow their lead in terms of preference.

Is there a difference when potty training boys?
Some say it is harder, but I actually find the opposite to be true given that they can stand while peeing and it does not get all over them. Despite the gender myths, one difference is that you should always start having boys pee sitting down and push their penis down. Show them how to do it and say “you push your penis down.” If possible have dad or male relative show them how they sit on the toilet and push their penis down.

What underwear, potty, travel seat or stool should I buy?
See my amazon shop.

My child won’t stay on the potty. What do I do?
Would you want to stay on the potty if you could play instead? Probably not. Bring the play to them, UNLESS they tell you they don’t have to go. Respect your child’s words and trust them. Remember, how many times they fell down when starting to walk. Books, stickers, temporary tattoos (count to 60 when putting them on), snow globes, squishy toys, bead activities and even massaging your child’s arms with cream to relax them are good activities to bring with them onto the potty.  Try to avoid using phones and ipads as this can lead to your child manipulating you to get more screen time. 

What happens if your child is scared to go on the potty?
First acknowledge them by saying, “it is strange, but this is where our pee goes.” It is rare that a child is actually fearful to the point where they won’t use the potty. If your child has sat on the potty and then shows fear, then they are not part of the rare sample. There is still hope. Have them practice taking the pot from the potty and dumping it in the potty to make them less fearful. Let them place a big doll on the potty so they see that it is not as scary as they once thought. 

What happens if your child has to go to the bathroom while they are in the bathtub or the car?
When going out, don’t be afraid to take your potty or travel toilet seat top with you in your trunk or your stroller.  If they have to pee while in the bathtub, offer the potty or if they don’t want to because they are wet in the bath, offer a mason jar. I always keep a mason jar in my car with a lid and if there’s nowhere with a bathroom in sight, then I respect my children’s need to go to the bathroom & allow them to go (especially during the early stages).  I will just spread their legs and put the mason jar underneath and let them go into the jar. It’s important to let them go when they say they have to because they are learning to recognize what a full bladder feels like.

How long is this process supposed to take?
Some of you may have heard of the three day method. Don’t give up if it doesn’t take 3 days. I typically think it takes 1-2 weeks and sometimes 3. 

Should I reward my child for using the potty?
I don’t think they should be rewarded for going to the bathroom, just like they shouldn’t be rewarded for eating. If you do go the reward path, I am definitely against bribing with food. However, there is a reward of being able to take the potty pot when it’s full with pee and dumping it into the toilet and FLUSHING it on their own that is fun and gives them a sense of extreme accomplishment!
Nighttime potty training blog post to come…