How-To: Potty Train in 3 Days — or less!
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Potty train in 3 days — or less!
It sounds like a gimmick, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not! Potty training should not be a stressful ordeal.
As a single mom, with no dad around to help, I managed to potty train my daughter in just 3 days. If I was able to do it, anyone is able to do it.
I know that to most parents about to embark on the “potty training” process, it seems impossible to potty train in 3 days. Most people only tell you about the “horrors” of potty training. Many parents expect potty training to be an extremely difficult and lengthy ordeal. The truth is that these “horror stories” usually take place because the child is NOT READY to begin potty training.
There is no “perfect” age at which to begin potty training your child. My daughter was showing potty training readiness at 22 months of age, but many are not ready until well into their 2nd and 3rd years of life.
I also want to clarify that your child will not be perfectly trained in 3 days or less. All children have accidents and that is completely normal. I consider a child to be potty trained when he is no longer in diapers and is using the potty the majority of the time. You will still need to help your child throughout much of this process, and once I again I remind you, ACCIDENTS ARE NORMAL and are to be expected!
Think of these three days as the beginning of an ongoing process. Once you decide to begin potty training your child you must stick with it. as switching back and forth from diapers to potty will only make the process longer.
What is required before you begin to potty train in 3 days?
1) Your child must be READY to potty train in 3 days. Some signs of potty readiness are:
- Child is showing an interest in the bathroom habits of others. The child might ask about the toilet or what you are doing. Your child might also “mimic” you on his own potty seat.
- Begins to dislike or complain about the feeling of wet or soiled diapers.
- Tells you he/she is having a bowel movement or is urinating is his/her diaper.
- Can follow simple instructions.
- Goes periods of time with a “dry” diaper (during nap time or 2-3 hour periods throughout the day). This is usually a sign that your child has started to be able to hold his/her urine and bowel movements. This is different from waking up with a dry diaper. Waking up with a dry diaper means your child is ready for nighttime training as well. While many children are ready for daytime training at about 2 years of age, many children are not ready for nighttime training until later.
- Begins showing signs of independence.
2) You need a MINIMUM of 3 days that you can dedicate to potty training your child. You will need to be with your child the entire 3 days. Start the process during a long weekend or take the days off from work if you are a working parent. Clear your calendar for these days. You don’t want to feel anxious about having to go somewhere. Once you begin this method you are done with diapers, FOR GOOD. Having to put a diaper on your child so that you can leave your home will only undermine the entire process and will make this method not work.
If you do not want to purchase a stand-alone potty seat, purchase a kid-sized toilet insert (this one is AMAZING) which sits on top of your full-sized toilet. When it comes to potty seats, SIMPLE is better. I found that the potty seats that had music, decals, etc. were more distracting for my daughter. Adult toilets don’t have bells and whistles. Teaching a child to expect a “song” or their favorite character on their potty is going to set you up for failure when you try to get them to “go” in a public setting.
4) “Big kid” underwear.
5) A reward chart or reward system of your choice (more info on that later).
The following things are optional but highly beneficial in order to potty train in 3 days:
1) A stool so that your child can easily get on and off the toilet himself/herself if you went with the toilet insert instead of the child-sized training potty. Here is a great, and really affordable, one!
2) Fun books about potty training that your child can read with you.
3) A “pee-pee” pad for the car seat in case of accidents while in the car (these happen, a lot).
Ok, let’s potty train in 3 days!
One of the first things I recommend when starting the journey into ‘potty training land’ is to make the child excited about the entire process.
Introduce them to their potty seat(s). Place it next to yours and have them sit on it while you use the toilet. Explain to them what you are doing and what they will soon be doing in theirs.
Let them pick their own big kid underwear! Make it an exciting occasion. Have them pick ones with their favorite characters or colors and reiterate that it makes them a “big kid” and that they will be just like mommy or daddy. Shopping for their first underwear should be fun and special! Most children do not like soiling their special undies, which is why you want them to pick ones they love and are excited about. The more excited they are about finally getting to wear underwear, the better.
Set up a reward system or reward chart. This was the single thing that made the biggest difference for us. I made my daughter a “success” chart that she could place stickers on every time she sat on the potty (pre-training) and actually used the potty to “pee” or “poop” (post-training). I let her pick her own stickers and introduced it to her BEFORE we started training. She loved the idea of being rewarded for doing “big kid” things! Every time she would sit on her potty while I was using mine, she would get to pick and place her own sticker. She looked forward to using her chart and to filling it with stickers. I told her that once she filled her sheet, she could pick something from our “rewards box”. This is a box I keep filled with little toys, stickers, pencils, etc. Using a rewards system really kept her motivated and excited about the entire process.
Keep your child well-hydrated and make sure they are eating a fiber-rich diet so that they do not become constipated. Nothing can slow down the potty training process more than a child becoming constipated or afraid to go “poo” in their potty.
Day 1 is the most important day. It is the day that will set the tone for the entire potty training process. You will not be able to potty train in 3 days if you mess up the first day.
Start the day with your child in underwear as soon as they wake up. Once you start potty training you will not use diapers during the day, ever again! You will also not use ANY pull-ups or “training underwear”.
Let me repeat that: You will not use diapers during the day, EVER AGAIN!
Begin rewarding positive behavior right away. Wearing underwear should be rewarded. Choose comfortable, loose, and easy to remove clothing for Day 1. If possible, keep your child in a t-shirt and underwear only. If they have accidents they will not like the feeling of being wet or of urine dripping down their legs. We want it to be easy to sit them on the potty, especially during day 1. The easier they can get their underwear down, the better for the both of you.
Place them on the toilet, OFTEN. If your child does not speak yet, use a “sign” or code word to let them know what they are doing on the potty. I always said “ok, let’s go pee pee or poo poo!” in a happy tome, but you can use any variation. Don’t let the fear of accidents keep you from giving them lots of fluids. We want them to pee a lot. You will find that you need to sit them on their potty more often than you think. I recommend visiting the potty every 15-30 minutes. Sometimes children will do nothing on the potty and then stand up and immediately urinate. That is ok, accidents happen. Clean it up, do not make them feel bad about it, and do not yell at them about it. Refrain from telling them “it is ok”, as peeing out of the potty is not ok. You want to let them know that “pee and poop go in the potty” but don’t make them feel ashamed or afraid.
If they get tired or bored of using the potty, move it to another place in the house. While it is ok to move the potty around the house, try to keep your child contained to a certain area so that you can watch them. By keeping an eye on them, you can catch an accident before it happens. Arm yourself with tons of activities to do throughout the day so that they don’t get bored.
If your child begins to pee or poop on the floor, quickly pick them up and have them finish on the potty. Always let them see what they did in the potty and use your words again. You want them to understand exactly what they’re supposed to do in the potty, and what it looks and feels like to do it.
Nighttime is a whole other ballpark. Nighttime training often comes after daytime training. If your child is not already waking up dry, he/she is bound to have accidents during the night. This is also normal. Many children become fully potty trained during the day way before they are fully trained during the night. Nighttime diapers or training pants are fine! Most children who are ready to be out of diapers during the day are not physiologically ready to hold their urine for 8-12 hours at a time. If your child is waking up dry (for 2+ weeks) you can transition them out of nighttime diapers. If you choose to not use diapers at all, 24 hours a day, and your child is not ready for nighttime training please be aware that you will probably deal with a lot of clean-up and accidents during the night.
Day 2 is very similar to day 1, but on day 2 you get to take into account the lessons you learned during day 1. Do NOT go back to diapers, no matter what. It is normal to still have many accidents. Constantly remind your child to visit the toilet, keep them hydrated, and keep a positive and upbeat attitude. This should still be FUN for your child! It seems tedious to go to the potty every 15-30 minutes but not giving up will mean that you will probably be successful within the next few days! Think of all the money you will save by not having to purchase diapers anymore.
On Day 2, you can clothe your child in shorts or pants. Choose ones that are easy to pull up and down and let your child do it themselves. These shorts and pants should be loose-fitting and still allow your child to feel the freedom of being diaper-free. You want them to learn that they must remove clothing before going to the potty.
You’ve made it to day 3. Hooray! Just like in the last 2 days, do not go back to diapers. On day 3 you can attempt to venture outside of the home. Go for a walk, go to a nearby park, etc.
I always carry a portable potty with me. It is better if it is a potty they are already familiar with. Using a public restroom is terrifying for most children who are potty training, and can make them want to hold it instead. Even if you venture outside of the home, make sure to put them on the toilet every 15-30 minutes. Do not put diapers on your child to leave the house! Many parents fail at potty training because they continue to put diapers on a child to be able to leave the house.
I carried a portable potty with me EVERYWHERE when my daughter was first potty training. On day 5 of potty training we attended a “movie night under the stars” event. I knew we would be there for many hours and that restroom choices would be limited (and dirty) so I took a portable potty and she used it every 30 minutes. We had zero accidents and spent an entire 4 hours there!
Be proactive about letting EVERYONE know that you are potty training. If your child attends school or day care, let them know to not use any diapers and that he/she needs to be taken to the potty often. Let all relatives know as well.
If you’ve done all of the above for the past 3 days, you are well on your way to having a fully potty trained child in no time. Remember:
- Accidents happen
- Reward, reward, reward positive behavior!
- DO NOT go back to diapers, no matter how many accidents your child has. Some children have a lot of accidents the entire first 3 days and suddenly “click” on day 4 or 5. Every child is different! Do not give up.
- Never make your child feel that you are angry or ashamed about their accidents.
This method is pretty fool-proof, but for some parents it doesn’t work the first time they try it. Here are some reasons why you may not be able to potty train in 3 days:
- Child is not ready to begin potty training.
- You have not fully cleared out your calendar and revert to using diapers for long outings. I cannot stress this enough, once you start potty training you cannot go back to daytime diapers at all.
- Your child becomes afraid of accidents because you reprimand him/her too harshly.
- You don’t make it fun or exciting for your child.
- You give up or become agitated over accidents.
- You do not reward them enough or give them enough praise after a successful potty break.
Will you be trying this potty training method? Let us know in the comments below. Have any additional tips for parents getting ready to potty train? Let us know!
Good luck 🙂
Our favorite potty training items:
Kalencom Potette portable potty (LOVE!): Purchase on Amazon.
Munchkin Potty Seat: Purchase on Amazon.
Potty training book: Purchase on Amazon.
**Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. Amazon links are affiliate links. As always, our blog posts are for entertainment purposes only. Always consult your doctor if you have any medical questions.**