After already potty training three boys, I thought that potty training my daughter would be easy. However each child, while having completely different personalities also have completely different potty training experiences as well!
My first and third boys were each nearly 3 ½ by the time they were trained. The second son was completely trained just before his 2nd birthday and never once had an accident (we still call him by the nickname, “The Iron Bladder”). My daughter started off very resistant. Would I really be able to potty train in three days?
Haven’t we always heard that “potty training girls is easier than boys”? Not in my case! For the past six months my daughter had rebuked all attempts to use the toilet. When I asked her if she wanted to go, the answer was always a resounding NO. I just left it alone, waiting and waiting for her to want to use the potty. I realized that this might take a lot longer than necessary and decided to take action!
Potty Training in 3 Days
I found the book Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step-by-Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty Diapers by author Brandi Brucks. Potty training in three days?! Well, I was intrigued.
The author has worked with many families over the years, potty training toddlers and has tons of really practical potty training tips. I’m sharing what worked for me (and what didn’t work) with my daughter while following this book.
Was my daughter completely potty trained in 3 days? In a word: No. But by following the advice of the book she was certainly potty trained a lot faster than if I’d just waited for her to teach herself! I do highly recommend either purchasing the book on Amazon or you can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans!
Looking for Potty Training Signs
There are a few suggested signs to look for in your child before you should start potty training. Parents can watch for these toilet training signs:
- When little ones are staying dry for several hours at a time or even overnight, it’s time to try potty training in earnest.
- Shows an interest in the toilet and in what you’re doing in the bathroom.
I can assure you that my daughter wasn’t doing either of these things. She was wetting her diaper every 30 minutes and refused to even look at the potty! So even if your child isn’t showing all the signs, you can still try to potty train if you think they’re ready. I was still able to potty train her quickly using the following tips, keep reading.
Talk to your little one about listening to their body and about recognizing when they have “to go”. They might not fully understand what you mean at first but eventually they’ll start to catch on. When you change diapers speak in the terminology you want them to use (ie: pee-pee, poop, etc).
Potty Training Myths
I’d always heard to do these things but after reading the book, the author recommends NOT doing them. Take this advice for what it is. Try it for a week and see if it works.
- “Don’t assume that girls are easier than boys”
- “Skip the portable potty” – The author recommends you skip the tiny potty (we kept the tiny potty for the first month so my daughter could go to the bathroom by herself if she needed to).
- “Kids should go potty only in the bathroom” – This means you should not move a tiny potty around the house. Toddlers should associate going potty with only going in the bathroom.
- “Don’t set a timer” – With my eldest, I would set a timer for 30 minutes and have him try to use the potty each time. After a few days I stretched that out to an hour. It worked for him but there’s a reason why the author recommends NOT using a timer. She suggests that you want your child to feel what it is to have a full bladder (makes good sense).
- “Only reward your child when they pee or poop in the toilet” – With my other kids, I’d been rewarding with a treat each time they made a potty attempt, whether they went or not. Naturally the boys took advantage of that, sitting on the toilet for a few seconds, saying they couldn’t go and then still requesting their treat!
Potty Training Preparation
Before you start potty training, you’re going to need to prep for the three full days you’re devoting towards the cause. You’ll need to have all the tools you need at hand as well as the time set aside.
- Schedule the three days of potty training on your calendar. A three day weekend is good. If you’re following the book, you’ll be home and inside for ALL THREE DAYS. Yes, really.
- Try to have both adults home so that someone has an eye on your child at all times (you’ll find out why that’s so important later).
- Stock up the fridge and pre-make meals. You don’t want to be distracted cooking dinner because that’s just the time your child will take to poop in the corner (believe me on this one, happened to me!) I’m going to put a shout-out to using Dinnerly this week. All the ingredients will be delivered to your house & the meals go together fast.
- Purchase a potty seat that fits on top of the regular toilet seat (like the BABYBJORN Toilet Trainer).
- A step stool is also necessary so that you’re child can get on and off the toilet by them self.
- The author recommends pet “piddle-pads” if your child is sitting on furniture.
- Clear an area in your home to be the designated “potty waiting area”. We rolled up the living room rug and just stayed on the tile. This allowed me to get on the floor and play with my child and the floor was easy to wipe up when accidents happened.
Toddler Potty Training Prep
You’ve prepped yourself and your home for the three day potty training boot camp. Now it’s time to prep your toddler for potty training! These are the things you’ll need for your kiddo.
- Get rid of the diapers! I warned my toddler what was going to happen and that we would be giving our diapers to the “diaper fairy”. She happily helped me collect them in the morning on the first day. We put the diapers in a big bag and sent them off to a new baby.
- A book that shows other kids using the toilet was helpful for my daughter in the weeks leading up to potty day. We also watched Elmo’s Potty Time every day until she had it memorized!
- Thick training pants will hold poop for minimal mess but still allow your child to feel wetness if they pee. You’re going to want a good amount of these on hand! I had 16 total for my daughter all with her favorite characters, so she was excited to wear them.
- Plenty of toddler-friendly activities at hand to keep you occupied. I pulled out a few fun new toys and games for my daughter, including these People Toy Co. Magnetic Zoo Animals.
- Buy stickers to use on the potty chart (keep reading to get your free potty chart printable!)
- Stock up on snacks and drinks for your kid. You’ll want foods with a high water content like applesauce and fruit. I bought my daughter apple juice and mango juice to encourage her to guzzle (more liquid=more opportunity to use the potty!). Juice is a big treat for her so she drank a lot!
- Get a package of overnight diapers, like Pull-Ups. You’ll ONLY be using these at night and for naps, then removing them immediate upon waking. Read the book to find out how to call them “sleeping underwear” and why you’ll put a pair of real underpants over the top. I do have a better option than diapers though, keep reading!
Nighttime Potty Training
I recently found an even better option for potty training a toddler at night. The folks at Peejamas sent me a complimentary pair of their pajamas for my daughter to try. Peejamas have a built-in absorbent, plush liner that will soak up any leaks that might happen during nighttime potty training.
Although my daughter has only had a few accidents since she has been day trained, I wasn’t yet willing to put her to bed without the overnight diaper. While her bed has a waterproof mattress liner, she often ends up in my bed in the middle of the night. And I REALLY don’t want her peeing on my new mattress!
The Peejamas are a perfect option for potty training toddlers. You may balk at the cost of Peejamas but when you add up the cost of overnight diapers, the Peejamas are pretty reasonable (the absorbency of each pair lasts through over 300 washings). I found the sizing was more on the snug side (top was a bit short and rise is low on the pants) so you might want to size up. You can opt to purchase a complete Peejamas set or even just bottoms (or a shorts version)!
How Can You Get a Stubborn Toddler to Use the Potty?
Before I started the potty training in three days method, I’d ask my toddler if she wanted to pee and she’d always say, “NO”.
One of the phrases that you’re going to say non-stop during this process is, “Tell me when you need to use the potty”. Exactly like that because it eliminates kids automatically saying, “No”. The phrase “Tell me when you need to use the potty” doesn’t warrant an answer unless your child actually needs to use the potty. Then they’ll say, “I need to go potty!” And yes, sometimes that means they’ve already gone potty in their undies. But at least they are putting two and two together! You will repeat this phrase roughly 3 million times over the next month or so, not just in those three days of potty training.
Following the Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step-by-Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty Diapers book, you’ll be watching your child’s every waking move. The two times in three days that I wasn’t watching were the two times that my daughter peed on the floor. If your child pees, you are to swoop her up and put her on the toilet. This will give her the cue that pee is supposed to go into the potty.
Potty training won’t happen overnight. Your child is retraining years of habit, peeing and pooping where ever and when ever she wanted! It may not even happen in the “promised” three days. But you’ll be moving in the right direction, even if there’s a bit of a mess along the way.
Getting the Entire Family on Board
One of the most challenging things about potty training is getting your entire family on board. You’ll need to have a discussion with all of your toddler’s caregivers and let them know the plan for toilet training. It won’t work if everyone isn’t committed to it.
If you are potty training but the others in the house aren’t following the plan (or worse, are reverting back to diapers), it is likely going to take SO much longer to get your child trained to use the toilet consistently.
I was able to be present fully for the first three days of potty training. However on the fourth day, I had to go to night school and my husband was in charge. I prepped him on the procedures and informed him and my older kids that they needed to watch the toddler like a hawk!
I had created this printable guide for the fridge which helped me remind them of the steps. They were able to refer to the guides and make sure potty training ran smoothly (it did!) Here is your free potty training in three days printable guide.
Positive Reinforcement for Potty Training
Every little tinkle in the toilet is cause for celebration. Your toddler will love to see how excited you get when they do their business in the bathroom! You won’t have to do these forever. My daughter would remind me only for the first week and then completely forgot about the treats. Once they aren’t asking for them, you don’t have to give them anymore.
These are a few positive reinforcements for potty training you can use with your child:
- When my middle son was potty training, I found a toilet training app for my smart phone that set a reminder for a “potty break”. My son happily would run into the bathroom and use the potty when he heard the phone alarm. You might try to search for a game to play on your phone as a reward.
- Have a “special soap” in the bathroom that only your potty training child gets to use to wash his hands after using the toilet.
- Get special treats that will be just for when your child uses the potty. I got two big bags just for my daughter and she was able to get one for pee and two for poop (both had to be IN THE POTTY to get the treat!)
- Have a visual incentive that your child will receive when they complete potty training. My daughter had a coveted Minnie Mouse dress hanging in her room she really wanted to wear.
- Even a high-five is an affirmation of a job well-done!
Sticker Chart for Potty Training
One of the easiest and most encouraging things I used for potty training was the sticker chart. It’s so simple (and inexpensive!) but my daughter absolutely loved choosing and placing her sticker each time she peed in the potty. It’s a really big deal for toddlers and preschoolers, so I’d recommend trying it. I have created two different free sticker chart printables. Tape it up in the bathroom and then let your kid add their stickers.
CLICK FOR YOUR FREE STICKER CHART PRINTABLES
Staying Calm During the Potty Training Process
Yes, it’s definitely frustrating when your child refuses to use the toilet and then proceeds to mess all over the floor. Or when you’ve just had them sit on the potty and then they poop in their undies. It’s important to the process that you be calm and understanding when accidents happen along the way (because they definitely will).
My daughter didn’t potty train in three days. It was on the 6th day that she told me she needed to go potty for the first time. And then just like that, she started telling me from then on. She’s had accidents here and there in the six weeks that she’s been wearing underwear. But it’s usually when she’s busy playing and it’s not intentional. It’s still important to continue to remind your child to tell you when they need to go. Hopefully all these practical potty training tips and the free printables will help you on your potty training adventure!