The last 5 years have been great as far as changing diapers, spending money on diapers and cleaning up dirty diapers! That is due to my youngest child finally moving to regular underwear! Back then, one of the most popular potty training books my friends and I used was Toilet Training In Less Than A Day by Nathan Azrin.
Many of my friends have had great success with this book.
I also picked up a few other ideas along the way.
Potty Train in One Day
Below are my favorite tips for potty training a toddler.
Potty training should start when your child is truly ready in all three areas: physical, mental and social. Your child must have the physical ability to perform the steps involved. They should understand how the body works and know the clues. Also, they should have the desire to learn.
Once you have a potty chair, and you are sure your child understands moving from diapers into underwear, ask them to bring you their favorite “lovey” or stuffed animal. Have them teach their “baby” first. This assures that they understand the process and are ready to move forward. If they have a hard time with this, you may want to put it off, but if they are willing to try, go ahead with the thought of introducing it to them.
The basics of the one day training was to set aside one full day that you can teach your child without interruptions. I explained that they were showing signs of being ready and were old enough to move into regular (big girl/boy) underwear. I gave my daughter some lightly salted popcorn and her first coke and explained that these would help us with our potty training for ONE day! Some smart kids may decide to prolong it for a few more days just to get these treats! I had her sit on the potty for 10 minutes and kept her entertained with books, cards, coloring etc. After 10 minutes she could eat some popcorn,drink her soda and play for about 10 minutes. We kept her out of diapers, pull-ups or underwear during this time, yes that means bottom half is out in the open. Then we started over again, sit on the potty for 10 minutes and then we increased the time off the potty about 5 to 10 minutes each time. So you would start off with 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on, 15 minutes off, 10 minutes on, 20 minutes off, etc. Continuing to fill them up with her snack which would make them thirsty, the more they drank the more opportunities you gave them to practice. You can use any snack or drink, but these were my preference for this special day!
Once you have introduced potty training, buy several pairs of underwear with your child’s favorite character. Wrap them up in some fun paper or present them in a special way. Let your child know that they have had some success potty training and they are now ready for underwear with their favorite character on them. Then after they model them and put them on and you clap and make a big deal about it, inform them that Cinderella (replace with favorite character name) doesn’t like to get wet or dirty. So, as soon as you need to go to the bathroom, don’t forget, run quickly to keep them dry and clean. A few of my friends tried this when they knew their kids were ready, understood and were still too busy playing to take care of business. If they do have an accident, you could try this note (or email)…
Dear (child’s name),
I am so proud of you for learning how to use the potty! I am also glad you got some underwear with my picture on it. Try to remember to tell your parents as soon as you feel the urge and then go to the restroom. Please remember that I don’t like to get wet or dirty and I love it when I stay dry!
We all have accidents sometimes and if you do, please tell your parents right away! They won’t be mad and then they can wash them quickly, clean me up and you can wear them again.
I am proud of you!
(sign characters name)
Remember each child develops differently. An age range could be anywhere from 18 months to 3 years. By 4, most kids are completely independent.
If you start and realize your child is not ready, try again in a few months.
You can’t make your child complete potty training until they are ready. You can start the training but they decide when it ends. This is not a battle and if it starts to head in that direction, put it off.
Toilet training usually cannot be accomplished in one day. You can accomplish a lot and get the basics down but expect accidents to happen and be prepared in case they do.
Have an extra set of clothing, a plastic bag to put wet clothes in and some wet wipes available nearby when you are out. Do not yell, punish or criticize when they have an accident.
Use positive reinforcement. Point out how proud you are when they make it to the bathroom.
Bedwetting is normal. For both kids the nighttime took much longer. We used night pull ups at bedtime and would try a few nights in a row every couple of months.
Nighttime dryness is achieved only when a child’s body is developed. You can’t teach this because it is not a skill. I know many boys that continued to wear night pull ups until the age of 7 and 8. I asked our pediatrician about this and they recommended to bring it up to the doctor to rule out any problems but that some kids may not develop this ability until later.
We recommend this book, Potty Train in a Weekend, if your child is truly ready to give it a go:
Please let us know if you have used any of these tips, have a book recommendation or other ideas to pass along!
Cammie Moise is the founder and editor of Moms Material. She is a Texan mom who writes about all the fun and educational things she has come across in her 10 years of mommyhood.