How to Potty Train Your Child

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You may be ready for potty training, but it’s much more important that your child is, too. Your little one’s success hinges on his ability to emotionally and physically make the transition from diapers to toilet. If either of these aspects is lacking, toilet training may take longer than anticipated. Kid’s Health advises that you watch your child for signs of being ready to start toilet teaching. Look to see if he briefly stops what he’s doing to grab his diaper, or if he indicates that he’s gone. All toddlers advance at their own pace and before long you’ll be diaper-free, and so will your little one.

Things You'll Need

  • Potty
  • Step stool
  • Training pants or underwear
  • Clothing that is adaptable to potty training
  • Rewards, such as stickers
  • Books or toys
  • Learn your toddler’s cues that indicate she is peeing or pooping. These may include grimacing, grunting, turning red in the face or looking for a private place where no one will see her. Encourage your child to notice them, too. The University of Michigan Health System suggests talking about how it feels. Have your child share with you when she feels that way. Offer lots of praise when she comes to you with her news.

  • Choose the type of potty that you will use for training. There are two basic types: one that stands alone and has a removable bowl; and one that fits snugly over your regular toilet. Buy a potty for every toilet in the house and be consistent. If you choose the seat that fits over your toilet, buy a stool that allows your little one’s legs someplace to rest. This may help make her feel more secure when sitting on the toilet. For boys, Kid’s Health advises that they learn to pee sitting before trying it standing up.

  • Dress your child in clothes that are conducive to potty teaching. You do not want shirts or pants that snap at the crotch. Make sure he is able to pull down his own pants and underwear. If you choose to use disposable training pants, ensure they can be easily taken off by your child.

  • Sit your toddler on his potty fully clothed to let him get comfortable being on the toilet. Let him play with a toy or read a book. Allow him to watch you or older siblings use the toilet. Praise him when he does.

  • Sit your child on her potty after you change a wet or poopy diaper. Let her play with one of the toys or books she usually has when sitting on the potty fully clothed. When she wants down, let her down and dress her. Repeat this until she is comfortable sitting on the potty with no clothes on. You may even want to put the soiled or wet diaper in the toilet to let her know what the toilet is for. Always give lots of praise. Sometimes a treat, such as a sticker, acts to reinforce her success. If she refuses to sit on the potty, be patient and never make her feel bad. Patience is the key to potty training.

  • Encourage your toddler to sit on the potty two or three times a day without training pants. Choose times upon rising, after meals and naps and just before bed. Gradually increase the number of sittings. When you have success, praise and offer a reward.

Tips & Warnings

  • Coordinate your training efforts with other caregivers. It's important that the routine remain consistent.
  • It's not unusual for your child to suddenly refuse to sit on the potty after some successes. Be patient and encouraging. The setback is temporary. Give her a few days and try the routine again.
  • Disposable diapers and pull-ups can keep your toddler so dry that he may be unaware that he's wet.



  • Photo Credit Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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