Pull-Ups® Potty Training consultant and mom Julie Anaya offers real-life insights about the best potty training tools and tips she discovered while training her own kids. We talked with her about easy potty training ideas that made the process smooth for her and fun for her toddlers. Use our list of essential potty training tools to make potty training fun, fast, and easy for you and your child!
Planning Your Approach to Potty Training
- Set realistic expectations. Remember that every child is different, so just because other children in the home or your social group potty train with a certain method or within a certain time does not mean that every child will follow that as well. Keep in mind it takes kids an average of 8 months to successfully complete the potty training journey.
- Be patient. It’s hard to remember a time where you didn’t know how to go potty or when you didn’t understand what your own body cues feel like, but that’s what your toddler is going through now! Their bodies and minds are still developing, so it’s good to consider that successful training should be approached with patience.
- Be consistent. As with learning any new skill, it’s easiest to learn when your surroundings and process are unchanging. Keep this in mind when potty training your toddler, and remember to try to use consistent language when describing key steps throughout the journey.
- Have an open bathroom policy. Offer to let your toddler hang out with you in the bathroom while you’re doing your business. It’s a really effective way for little kids to learn! Children love to mimic their parents, so consider incorporating the Can You Do What I Do? potty training game into your routine.
- Involve your toddler in choices and decision-making. Having a “sense of control” will help your child buy in to the process and stay excited about the adventure at hand. It will probably mean fewer power struggles and resistance too! Potty training should be about your partnership with your toddler, not solely your supervision.
- Warm up to the steps of going potty. Have your child practice toilet tasks individually — pulling down pants, sitting on the potty, wiping, flushing — in a casual, low-pressure way. Using Pull-Ups® training pants is a great way for your child to practice pulling their own pants up and down. Unlike diapers, their super stretchy sides allow this.
- Transition from diapers to training pants. Pull-Ups® products also reinforce your child’s sense of being in charge of the process, which is an important mindset for potty training success. Just be sure you don’t put diapers on after the transition as that can be confusing for your toddler.
- Point out potties. Point out all the potties in other places — at Grandpa’s house, in restaurants and at the grocery store. Many toddlers don’t realize their home isn’t the only place in the universe with a potty.
- Identify who will be a support system. Whether it be your spouse or partner, family members, daycare providers or all of the above, it’s important that all supporters are on the same page in your potty training method so that you can drive as much consistency as possible for your toddler.
- Do some research. Try tapping into credible websites and parenting blogs to understand what kind of information is out there that could help you and your toddler in this process. Topics like potty training methods, toddler development, potty training games and activities, how to motivate a toddler and more would be a great start for finding helpful tips and tricks.
- Determine if your toddler is ready for potty training. Potty training is a developmental skill physically and mentally, and your child will show signs if they are ready to start the journey. If you’re unsure, take this Potty Training Readiness Quiz to make sure you and your child are officially ready to kick things off!
Making Potty Training Fun
- Practice positivity. Genuine, low-key, specific praise works best. Don’t just yell out, “Wow! Great job!” Instead, make an observation about a skill and be intentional about the words you choose to celebrate and guide your child.
- Take a special shopping trip together. Letting your child pick out their own Pull-Ups® training pants with their favorite characters along with other items on the Potty Training Shopping List can create a sense of ownership in the process. Set aside a trip just for this, and don’t pick up anything that’s not related to potty training so the time feels special and your toddler feels the excitement of the new journey.
- Make everything a game. Come up with a fun potty song to explain potty instructions, make a potty training cake as a reward, create a sticker chart to celebrate successes, come up with potty-related activities to familiarize them with the idea, and make every potty reminder a game. There are so many great ways to get your toddler excited about becoming a Big Kid!
Essential Tools for Fun Potty Training
- Potty training certificates. Download our printable potty training certificate or create your own and present it to your child when encounter a big moment in their potty training journey, like the first day they use training pants instead of a diaper, the first time they go in the toilet or the first public bathroom experience. Take a picture of your child with the certificate, print it out and display it in a prominent place so they can be reminded of their impressive achievement and show it off to family members and guests. This certificate is a great way to demonstrate the decision you and your little one are making to embark on the potty training journey together.
- Potty training sticker chart. Celebrate successes — even small ones. Help your child show off their potty training achievements by creating a chart that hangs at their eye level in the bathroom. Let them choose stickers to add to the chart each time they reach a goal. Keep in mind that toddlers don’t have a solid sense of time yet, so stickers are most effective when used as an immediate positive reinforcement rather than as part of a goal that’s being saved up for later.
- Disney phone calls. Get positive reinforcement from your child’s favorite Disney characters, like Mickey, Rapunzel, Lightning McQueen and more. Arrange an encouraging FaceTime to get your child excited about potty training. It’s a great way to surprise your toddler and celebrate their potty training success!
- Coloring sheets. These can be used as an incentive or just a fun potty-related activity!
- Handwashing poster. Hang a poster by your bathroom sink to provide a visual cue that reminds your child about this important step of the potty process. Bonus: Get some foamy soap in your potty training shopping trip, since it makes handwashing that much more fun!
- Personalized potty book. Get creative with your child and create a potty book together. Write a little story about your child’s journey and how they use the potty. You might include phrases like “Sometimes my tummy feels funny and I dance around — that’s when I know I need to use the potty” and “I pull down my pants and sit on the potty.” And be sure to include the fun moments too, like how you celebrate successes together. Your child can draw the pictures. It doesn’t have to be fancy—any spiral notebook will do. Make your child the star of the story, and include their favorite colors, toys, and friends or family in the story. Some parents include extra pages at the back of the book for stickers instead of making a sticker chart.
- Potty flash cards. They can help your potty training child keep track of what order the potty steps go in. Help teach your child the sequence of events leading up to using the potty by detailing each step. Play a game of “What do we do first? Next?” Have your child put the cards in the correct order and then demonstrate the process. You can also play a labeling game, asking, “What’s this? What do we do with it?”
- Potty training scavenger hunt. If you want to add a little more fun to your potty training routine, this game lets your youngster seek and find all of their potty training items. Hide their potty training supplies all around the house. Afterwards, have a discussion about each of the items that your child finds and how it will help them learn to use the potty.
- Build-a-Bathroom Puzzle. The bathroom might seem like a mysterious place to your child. Explore the bathroom and explain what each piece of equipment does and how it works, and then demonstrate. For example, explain how you wipe yourself with the toilet paper, how the toilet bowl swirls with water when you flush and how you wash your hands with soap afterward. Verbally label each component of the bathroom to help your child’s language develop, so they can communicate effectively with you.
“As a parent, you’ll learn that you can’t push or get frustrated. Each child will train when he or she is ready,” Julie concluded. “Hang in there... it’s two steps forward and one step back, but once you find a system that works with your child, stick with it. They’ll be using the potty by themselves in no time.”