How to Potty Train Your Child Before Age 2


Let me preface this whole post by stating I do not like discussing anything in relation to bathrooms. I’m a little bit of a Prairie Mary when it comes to this sort of thing, but I figure if I’m going to write a post about why you need a yearly gyn exam, I can write a post about potty training.

Somehow – miraculously – all three of my girls potty trained before the age of two. The average age that a little girl gets potty trained in this house is 20 months, just slightly over a year and a half. When it happened with Remmy, I was like “This is a fluke.” Sophie potty trained early, and I was all “Whoa, surely another fluke.” When Minnie was born and her actions were basically her nonverbally shouting “I am not following in my big sisters’ footsteps in regards to anything,” I for sure thought she’d be the one to wait until she was three and a half. But no, she surprisingly followed suit.

While I’m three for three when it comes to potty training early, please be advised that all of my evidence is anecdotal. Your mileage may vary. I was first inspired to potty train Remmy because she was 17 months old when Sophie was born, and having two in diapers was just like O__O. So maybe you’re expecting a new baby, or maybe you’re dreaming of the day that you’re no longer dealing with diaper blow-outs. Here are some tips that I have repeated via text message, phone call, email, in person, and via carrier pigeon to friends over the years. Now it’s in one spot and I can just shoot people links. (Maybe this post is more for me than for you.)

How to Potty Train Your Child Before Age Two1) Block off some time. For the most part, the girls potty trained within a weekend, but I like to clear out about five days of not really going anywhere so we can all be home and near bathtubs and stuff.

2) Set the stage. We started the day off with a bear in a pair of undies. (They each have a bear they sleep with at night/naptime.) “Look! Bear is wearing big girl undies. Do you think Bear wants to go on the potty?” I show her that we take undies off before going on the potty, put the bear on the potty for a second, pull the bear off the potty, show her that Bear “went potty” (a little water in the potty is fine, you guys; no need to get authentic up in here), do the whole wiping protocol (I’m getting nauseated typing this out, must endure), pull undies back up.

Then I get suuuuper excited for Bear. “Bear went on the potty like a big girl, woooo!” and I crush a beer can in my hands and throw Mardi Gras beads around the bathroom. Just kidding, but we clap for Bear, and then Bear gets a treat. (It’s varied in the past, based on allergies. A small animal cracker or a mini marshmallow has worked for us.) As we’re fist pumping and shouting “Yeeaaaa boyyeeee” in the bathroom, I excitedly say, “I have big girl undies for you, too! Do you want to go on the potty?” and they’ve always said yes. They try, they go, they get a treat. This is how the party starts. Sorry the previous two paragraphs are making me sound like a sociopath.

3) Reward dry undies. I grab a little egg timer and set it to go off in random intervals. 15/20/30 minutes. (You can use your phone, but some kids might get a kick out of seeing the potty timer and decorating it with graffiti or leftover Barbie hair or whatever.) In between asking “Do you need to go potty?” I let the timer ding, and then check to see if her pants are dry. If they are dry, she gets two treats. I’m letting her know that yes, it’s important to go on the potty, but it’s also really, really important to keep her pants dry.

4) Undies or bust. Don’t mess around with Pull-Ups, except for at bedtime. Buy a few packs of undies (you’ll likely go through a lot the first day) and stick with them. (I like these organic undies – great because my two bigger girls have eczema – but Carter’s are my second faves. They’re not paper thin like all of the regular princess branded undies I’ve found.)

5) Make it a fun day. We buy a new sippy cup. We buy diluted juice boxes. We rent a new movie. We chill in the living room and eat snacks, drink a lot of liquids (so they have to go to the bathroom more often, thus more opportunities to learn), read books (love this potty-themed book one by one of our fave authors — this one’s crazy cute, too), and play. It’s an exciting day! Make it rain confetti everywhere! (No, don’t do that. That’s messy. We’re not animals.)

How to Potty Train Your Child Before Age 26) Keep it simple. A 19 month old isn’t going to understand a speech from you on the importance of making it to the bathroom on time. When an accident happens, I simply say five words “Pee goes in the potty.” I repeat that line – but only that line – as often as necessary.

7) Get the right gear. Along with that “keep it simple” mentality, don’t buy the potty with a million bells and whistles. I’ve seen them with toilet paper attachments and magazine holders. Bathroom germs + all of those crevices = noooooooooooooo. Our simple Baby Bjorn potty has endured three potty training seasons and still looks clean, respectable, and dust-free in the corner of our bathroom. It’s also a good idea to get a travel potty for when you’re on the road and the only nearby bathroom is in a gas station that needs a separate key. IKEA has a really simple one (easy-to-clean!) that we keep in the trunk. We keep one and a pack of wipes in the babe-mobile.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Cool. Hope this helps. If it does, football chest bump next time we see each other. *\o/*

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  • Reply Lindsey March 17, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Thank you! I need to try these things with Evie. She’s about to turn three and the fact that she’s still in diapers is driving me nuts.

    • Reply Roo March 17, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Good luck, Lindsey! :D

      • Reply roxanne hebenstreit August 16, 2015 at 10:00 pm

        I really hope u get this! I am desperate for help…. no one (mother in law , sister in law, friends are helping me)
        So my daughter is 26 months old and i did your pt guide to the t. Today is day 7 and its not going well. She has only told us a total 4 times she has needed to pee. However, she has told us and gone poop twice on the potty. Wjich was huge! That was day 4…. so i wanted to give it more time…. but yesterday was a disaster. Total backslide. Accidents…poop in pants… she did not want to sit on potty at all. It was a torture device to her. Today she said she had to pee and went twice(thats 2 of 4 total verbal times) That is what i dont get! I know she knows what we want her to do…. tje more i ask the more she seems to fight it…. I dont know what to do. I dont want to stop but her not ever verbalizing is wearing on me and her. Its been 7 days in the house… i am just mentally exzausted and i am sure she is too.

        I dont know if this is normal after 7 days for her to not be interested in verbalizing she needs to go. Whenever i catch the tiny accident in her undies we rush to potty and she almost always pees and doesnt resist sitting and going at all.

        I know she understands. She is stubborn and very independent. She isnt a child u can make sit on potty. It will not happen…resistance and she will also then pee on floor in an obvious way to show her defiance. It has been a long week and i do not want to go back to diapers.

        She can hold it for 1.5 hrs but somewhere after thst is when accidents happen. She will not sit on potty if i take her to sit on it. Its like it has to be her idea… i just know she resists the more i push…

        I feel like the only time she has gone on potty is after an accident in her undies…

        Candy…stickers… coloring… none of those things phase her. She doesnt care about any of that. None of it is “worth” potty time … i can not think of a bribe that will work. I mean she is only 2 and 3 months…. but she is smart. I try to act like idc about accidents. ..remain calm… cheer her on…. i feel like im in a dark room.i know there is a light….i just cant find it.

        I am losing my mind! I am 30 weeks preg and i would really like to not go back…i dont want to do tjis again…but i dont know where to go from here.

        I know she knows what i want her to do. And she is in control…i tell her we keep our undies dry no pee pee in them… I’ve done the “pp goes in potty “dance so much and after a week im not seeing the progress i thought (her saying she needs to go) would gappen by now. I do expect the accidents… i just thought she would tell me or we would be peeing without so many peeing afrer accidents… if this is normal im ok then… but i dont know and no one offers helpful advice! please help!

        Thank u for your insight. Please dont hold back! I look forward to hearing from you.

        • Reply Karisa August 17, 2015 at 4:36 pm

          Hi, Roxanne, this isn’t Roo, and I really hope she gets your post so she can give you some great advice! I could use some, too! I don’t have any advice but I am in a similar boat. My son will turn three in November and we’ve been potty-training for 2 months. We didn’t use Roo’s method because I just found it today, but we’ve tried pretty much everything else we could find or think of. For whatever reason, he does not want to use the potty, never mind the toilet. He doesn’t usually verbalize when he has to go, either, and will go only sometimes if I take him. We still don’t know the reason why and are trying everything we can think of to figure it out. We do allow him to wear diapers when he sleeps or when we go out, simply because, at this moment, it would be too stressful for all of us to force him to wear undies all the time while out. He also likes to be in control and to be the boss. And I know he is perfectly capable of going by himself when he wants to because I have seen him do it (only once, but still). There are two things that we recently discovered that seem to be helping a bit and may contribute to turning the tide: 1) he didn’t seem to be recognizing his body’s signals that he had to go. He could be squirming, but he wouldn’t verbalize and I recognized the signs. Once I explained to him what those signs meant and how important it was to take care of our bodies and go potty, he seemed to understand better and has referred back to that a few times when he hasn’t wanted to go and I have to persuade him. 2) Another thing that seems to be working slowly but surely for us is carrying over strategies that work with him in other areas and applying it to potty training. My little guy has a very strong will and that can be a good thing, once he learns how to use that in a good way and not a detrimental one (he is in process!) But it sent me running to find ways of working with a strong-willed child because i have felt at my wits end, too, sometimes. The book I remember the most is called “You can’t make me! (but I can be persuaded)”
          By Cynthia Ulbrecht. That has helped us.
          I think the last thing that has kept us from going nuts has been consistency. After one attempt of letting him go back to diapers, we learned that the ensuing stress on everyone (including him) wasn’t worth it. So, now he wears undies at home, no matter what. We may not have made much progress yet towards the next step of potty-training, but we’re not going backwards. And the only times he seems to really lose it is if I fall apart or if I give in to his demands completely.
          I do try to cut him and me some slack; we just moved to this state less than a year ago so we have no family or friends nearby, either, so I understand about the lack of help.
          I guess what I’m trying to say is, there IS a light in the dark room, and you WILL find it. Hang in there; you will make it. You both will. Don’t give up. And you’re not alone, no matter what it feels like. Praying for you guys,

          • I February 12, 2016 at 5:40 pm

            I wouldn’t hold my breath. The whole system is based on the fact that the kids answer yes to the first question, to imitate the bear and go potty. Not all kids do it. My son is constantly NO, whatever potty/underwear/reward option he is given. So this is just a method that worked for her, a child will only go if they want to and are ready. Don’t stress too much.

    • Reply Lynn June 8, 2016 at 11:51 pm

      So does this work the same with boys!?

      • Reply Stephanie July 18, 2017 at 4:50 pm

        Invite friends over with slightly older, potty trained kids. My son was starting to potty train, but having some difficulty. A friend at a wedding had a son 6 months older. My son followed him to the potty when he announced his need to go and his mom sent him on his own (we were on private property.. not in public). Peer pressure works in positive ways.

  • Reply Chrissy March 17, 2014 at 11:09 am

    I called our method “Naked and Awesome”. I didn’t know how to do this with my first son….he wasn’t fully good to go in public until way older than I am willing to admit here. Factor in that he had food intolerances causing diarrhea (our pediatrician had me spinning, talking about low motility gut muscles and prescriptions and HELLOOOO…IT WAS JUST DAIRY AND WHEAT, LADY! We have a new doc, natch.) and he was practically in kindergarten before things were really under control. Sheesh. None of that with the second and third son…I stripped them naked below the belt for two days to be able to run to the potty and go at the last second, then we did undies at home for a few days…both were accident free within a week. They were both less than two years old. Mama learned her lesson times a billion.

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Naked potty training. Super smart, Chrissy!

      Sorry about the food tolerances. O__O I feel you on diet woes.

    • Reply Jeni March 20, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      Did you experience any backsliding?? I keep getting advice on not potty training my 21 month old because he might backslide and be potty trained and then all the sudden just wet all the time.

  • Reply Caitlin @ {walker whimsy} March 17, 2014 at 11:26 am

    I had three kids in diapers for a month before I finally cracked down on potty training with the oldest. We started him at 18 months with this same type of method but it didn’t really click until just a few weeks ago (he’s almost three). Switching him to boxer shorts was the key. My second is 19 months and we just bought her underwear to start the process. I’m clinging to the idea that girls are easier. PLEASE, UNIVERSE, let it be true.

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 8:54 am

      Hahaha, I totally hear that girls are easier, Caitlin!

      • Reply Jessi March 19, 2014 at 3:32 pm

        Boxer shorts are risky, friends! We only do boxer briefs because…. Welll…turds don’t fall out of them. You’re welcome.

        • Reply kate June 10, 2014 at 3:29 pm

          I am at WORK right now. And I am dying laughing. I need to stop reading this lol

        • Reply Tracy Johnston April 20, 2017 at 3:04 pm

          HAHA i am going to make a mental note of this one!!

  • Reply Amber Schumann March 17, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Awesome job at the awkward “how-to” post!!! My daughter has been interested in the potty since she was about 15mo. She goes on it every once in a while, but we haven’t cracked down on her yet (busy/lazy mommy problems)–she’s 20mo now. I think your timer trick might be the recipe to getting her in check! *fist bump*

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 8:54 am

      *fist bump back* Good luck, Amber!

  • Reply Meghan March 17, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Yo! This is great. But I always wonder with the reward system when do you stop the rewards (treats) and do they still go potty after the treats are gone?

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 8:55 am

      Great question! I think we do it up until we start taking them out of the house and, say, using the potty at Target. At that point it becomes regular life.

  • Reply MissCaron March 17, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Excellent! My mom said she let us run around naked for the day outside playing and when the pee tinkled down our leg we got a look of shock on our faces and she said, “Oops! Looks like you missed the potty … sit down here next time.” and evidently it only took once or twice of feeling the pee run down our leg before we got it. I imagine it’s MUCH harder with boys.

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 8:55 am

      Smart mom. Yes, agreed, I cannot even comprehend the whole “stand up; no sit down” instructions.

      • Reply Theresa January 14, 2015 at 4:51 pm

        My little guy did sit down at first. We started him on the potty at 6 months when he actually COULD sit. Now at almost 3 he stands on his little steps in front of the potty and *thankfully* just started pooping on the potty regularly back in December. We still have a few accidents, but after giving birth twice, I do too sometimes. :) Anywho, about to start with my 7 month-old girl (she learned to sit up later than brother) and hopefully she’ll be even quicker to train. *fingers crossed*

  • Reply Mandie March 17, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Rewarding dry undies!!! Genius. Such genius! This may be the key to training my 19 month old! He already has the idea… I just need a weekend to reinforce it! SO EXCITED TO BE POTENTIALLY DONE WITH DIAPERS.

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Let’s throw a paaaaarty when you’re done, Mandie. *<|:)

  • Reply MichelleLG March 17, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Awesomesauce. Ok so two questions:
    (1) when each girl “got it” what did she do when she had to go potty? Run to the bathroom? Say “pee”? Etc? I tried with my oldest a couple months ago (she was 21mo) and she did great with everything except responding to the need to go… Does that make sense?
    (2) after the initial training, did the girls still have accidents or no? If yes how often and how long before they were prettu good to go?

    Can I just say, trying to potty train my not quite 2yo in a week was the hardest parenting thing I’ve experienced so far. Grabted, I was 8mo preggo (read: emotional and exhausted 24/7) but still. I will prob try again in a couple months but I’m still a bit skeered!

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 8:59 am

      1) I asked often. A lot. A lot a lot. Minnie will just say “potty,” and that’s enough of a signal for me to bring her to the bathroom and help her pull her pants down.

      2) One of the girls: no. Like after the first day, she was miraculously dry all the time. One other, maybe a couple of accidents. And then another, we had a regression period due to illness, so we had to get back on track, but it was super quick.

      If you can swing it, Michelle, get a babysitter (or a mother’s helper) to come help. It makes it a lot easier when someone else is enforcing potty time.

  • Reply Vi March 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    I think, with girls, they’re just easier to potty-train and all that junk, lol. Both my girls were trained within a couple weeks (BG1 at 2 and BG2 at like 20 months). Like you, I never went for the pull-ups (not really an “Asian thing”, I’ve noticed, lol). I even blogged about my experience with BG2 last year. Fun times! Lol.

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 9:01 am

      I’m told that cloth diapered kids (we rocked disposables for all 3) potty train quicker, too. Something about feeling the wetness and hating it, maybe?

      Hahaha fun times, indeed. I’m super pumped that I’ll never have to potty train again…

  • Reply Kristin March 17, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    I love the bear idea!! Wish I had done that for my son – who was … 4 1/2 before he was 100% potty trained.
    I would add though, that the special kid potties aren’t always necessary. I used one with my son but with my daughter I just used a kid seat that went on the actual toilet. Life SAVER. No extra cleaning and she got used to using the regular toilet. We’d carry a fold up plastic one while traveling or out shopping. Slap that sucker on, through it in a ziploc bag when done and disinfect at home. Easy.

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 9:10 am

      Nice work, Kristin! I might have to look into a kid seat.

  • Reply Megan @ Teaching Every Day March 17, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Potty training is my biggest mommy fail. I have two girls. Both were potty trained a month before their THIRD birthdays after months of starts and stops and tears and cleaning the carpet. We tried the “potty weekend” doing all the things you talked about when our oldest showed all the signs of being ready. Monday morning I woke her up and excited said “Time to go potty!” My two-year-old daughter said, “Potty weekend is OVER.” Oy!!

    • Reply Jenny March 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      I think every kid just hits that stage when they’re ready, just like they did with walking and talking. My older daughter has been pretty much potty trained since she was 15 months old (totally her choice, I was shocked), but at 5 yrs old still uses a pullup at night because she sleeps right through. My younger daughter pretty much gave me the finger when it came to the potty until recently, at 2.5 yrs, when she decided she was ready and that was that. She went her whole first day with no coaxing from me and no accidents! It’s all subjective, cut yourself some slack, Mama :)

      • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 9:16 am

        Totally agree, Jenny! xo

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 9:11 am

      Oh noooo. Not a mommy fail at all! Potty training is just one tiny milestone among years of hundreds of milestones. As long as they’re not going to high school in Pampers size 23, I think you’re good. ;)

  • Reply Nicole March 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Yay, I’ve been hoping for a potty training post since I saw your chest-bump video on Instagram. My daughter turned 2 a week ago and we are almost there- LOVE the egg-timer idea. I have 3 quick questions for you: 1. What about naps/nighttime?, 2. Do you think the little potty is necessary? We just use a potty seat and it works fine, but I wonder if the potty seat would make it a little easier for her. 3. Will Minnie go in a public bathroom? This is my biggest worry- that she won’t tell me she has to go, and/or won’t go in a public restroom.


    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 9:16 am

      1) I’ve found that they all started staying dry through naptime right away. Nighttime is a little bit of a crapshoot, but I think it just takes a little time.

      2) No, not necessarily. I’ve kept a potty out since the girls were 12 months old, just to get them used to the idea. For me it’s easier to clean, so I think that’s just a matter of preference.

      3) Yes! I put down the toilet liner and hold her up the whole time (same as I did with the other girls).

      You’re welcome, Nicole! Thanks for reading! xoxo

      • Reply Nicole March 18, 2014 at 7:43 pm

        Thanks, Roo!

  • Reply Leigh Ann March 17, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    I love those dang IKEA potties. So easy. My girls all potty trained after 3, but I was a firm believer in the bare butt method, mainly because we soiled too many panties. Once we went bare butt, it seemed to click a little more quickly. Just, you know, put some towels on the couch and stuff. :)

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 9:07 am

      I think they used to be even cheaper. I’ve only seen the red ones in store, but couldn’t find it online.

      Super smart on the bare butt method, Leigh Ann!

  • Reply Savannah March 17, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    I have lost my chance of it being that easy with my soon to be 4 year old..she’s been to the potty nd even did quite a few #2s but I just can’t get her to stay clean so I just resort back to the diaper..I need help

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Aww, Savannah! Don’t get discouraged. I think consistency is always helpful with kids, so maybe you can do a solid long weekend of potty training. She’ll get there!

  • Reply Ashlee March 17, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Did your girls each show signs of being ready? My daughter doesn’t seem phased by soiled diapers of any kind yet. She’s 18 months old, though, and she’s starting to wet through her cloth diapers more quickly.

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 9:03 am

      Hmm, I’ve kept a potty seat out in the open since Remmy was 12 months old, just so they get used to the idea. They would sit on it (clothed) and hang out long before they were ready to potty train. So I don’t know if I waited until all the signs were there, but I’ve sort of been priming them for awhile, if that makes sense.

  • Reply Lisa March 18, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Any tips or tricks for inducing nighttime dryness? Our little guy has been good to go during the day for several months now, and is dry during his nap 9/10 times, but overnight is just a different story. I realize it’s a much longer amount of time and all, but there’s gotta be some magical method, oh sage Roo…

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Hahaha! Our pediatrician recommending cutting out liquids for a couple hours before bedtime. They have their last drink at dinner, but I always give them a few sips of water before bed. I have no problem putting them in a pull-up at bedtime while they’re still little. The big girls might still wake up in the middle of the night, but they walk themselves to the bathroom and it’s fine. We keep a nightlight on in there, although they usually wake us up to announce the need for a nighttime potty break. ;)

  • Reply Emily March 18, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Great post Roo! Such good advice. My son potty trained super easily too! I did wait until he was showing signs of interest/readiness though. I didn’t do it at 18 months or anything. Props to you moms. I think he was about 2 1/2? I don’t even remember. He went straight to undies – no pullups, even at night. I think it helped that we cloth diapered – I think they feel the wet more. I definitely let him pee outside to speed the process along and we cut liquids after dinner.

    • Reply Roo March 18, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      Good for you guys, Emily! That’s fantastic. :D

  • Reply Lindsay @ fueled by diet coke March 18, 2014 at 4:52 pm


    So I shared this post with my husband (as I’ve said before our boy is just a few months younger than Minnie) and we had a couple questions:

    1. We work in ministry so our “weekends” really aren’t, like, weekends. He’s off all day Friday but I’m working all day and we’re both off Saturday but we both work all day Sunday. So we don’t get those two days together where we can devote time to it. Advice?
    2. Dax doesn’t seem “ready” but I feel like that’s a weird reason to not try. Like he has zero interest in the potty at all. But at the same time, he didn’t seem “ready” for solid food but boy it didn’t take him long to figure out that applesauce is delicious.

    IDKKKK thoughts?

    • Reply Sam March 19, 2014 at 12:03 am

      Hey Lindsay! I just wanted to throw it out there that if your little boy isn’t ready to potty train, trying to do it might just end in a bunch of stress and headaches and frustration for you and your husband. If you’re just not sure if he’s ready or not, signs to look for are things like if he can recognize that he has to go potty and can hold it until he makes it to the bathroom, that he understands what the potty is for, and that he has the attention span to sit for a period of time. If you’re still unsure, start talking about the potty, reading potty books, visiting the potty, talking about what his job is while sitting on the potty and having ‘practice runs’. If he doesn’t seem ready and/or willing, then chances are that it won’t work. Forcing it can even lead to fear of the potty, which ends up in a whole other set of issues… Just some food for thought.

  • Reply Fariha March 18, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Roo, you read my mind! I was googling this just a week ago, trying to work up the nerve to start potty training my 18 month old daughter. Do the underwear leak? I’m dealing with a carpeted rental apartment, don’t really want to leave surprises for the next tenant!

  • Reply Amanda March 19, 2014 at 12:30 am

    Love the egg timer idea. I am planning a bare bottom week next month for my then 16-month-old, but I know that once I think he’s ready and have him in underpants I’ll forget to ask him if he needs to go. so the timer, yes. I have been putting him on an IKEA potty when he wakes up from each sleep and before bed at night since he was about 3 months old and just in the last week or so he has only pooped on the potty (no poopy diapers!!), so I think he’s ready. OMG I am getting giddy thinking about no diapers. This post has me pumped. We can do this! Thanks!!

  • Reply Erika March 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I don’t have kids but I am in love with the fact that the picture of the bear in panties (ew, that word) also looks like she’s winking. Heyyyyyyyy.

  • Reply Kelsey McEvoy March 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Soooo I super loved and not loved this post. Like your girls, my girls (now 8 and almost 4) were suuuuuuuuuuuper easy to potty train. My almost 4 year old never even used a little practice potty thing. She went straight for the big kid potty and she rocked it. As I read through your post I found myself loving it because I found myself relating to basically all of it. For potty training my girls.

    But then there’s have my son, who will be 2 in two-ish weeks, and he isn’t even close to being ready to be potty trained. *Insert grumpy face here* -__-

    I think this an incredibly practical and reasonable guide for potty training girls, but I couldn’t imagine using the same approach with my son that I used with my girls. Both of my girls were completely potty trained before they turned two. My son hasn’t even really been introduced to the concept yet. I know you put a disclaimer in the beginning of your post that this was anecdotal so I totally get that potty training isn’t a “one size fits all” gig. I’m wondering, though, if any of your readers might comb the comments and have any real-world advice for potty training boys?! PLEASE HELP ME SOMEONE!

    Also. Roo. Have any of your girls gone through periods of regression with their potty training? My almost 4 year old goes in cycles of regression and it is SO unbelievably frustrating. You can read more here (some NSFW/frustrated language), and feel free to leave any insight from your own experience. I need all the insight I can get! http://www.lifeoutloud.kelseymcevoy.com/2014/03/when-potty-training-goes-down-the-toilet/

  • Reply Elizabeth March 19, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    This is hilarious. I love how you write. Just went thru all this with my 2 1/2 yr old boy, and it’s all the emotions you expressed. I don’t know how many high fives we did for the first time going potty, maybe a million?

  • Reply KNatGU March 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Anyone with tips about how to teach little to pull down the pants and get on the toilet by themselves. My lil is rocking the whole peeing part, but because of daycare I need to teach her to get herself ready to pee, that is more daunting at this point.

    We started to put her on the toilet as the 1st step of the bath time routine since she was maybe, 10 months old. Maybe we was even as early as 8 months. Eventually months later she started to tinkle and now she can religiously pee at that time. It was a great way to get her used to the whole concept of pee and potty before anything even happened.

  • Reply M. Kate March 24, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Hi Roo! This question may be TMI, so feel free not to answer, but ever since I read this article (http://www.babble.com/toddler/toddler-health-safety/dangers-potty-training-early/) by a pediatric urologist I’ve been freaked out about training our daughter “too early,” so I haven’t made many advances in that area yet (she’s 20 months). But with a new baby coming this fall, I’m considering it. Anecdotally, I’ve asked some friends who said they themselves were trained early and their experiences with bedwetting and the like seemed to match with this information. But it sounds like so far you haven’t had any issues like those described with your girls?

    • Reply Kellye April 3, 2015 at 10:06 am

      I know it’s a little late, but I just stumbled upon this great advice, and wanted to help others going through the same fears as you about earlier training. I read the article you posted about, and I feel there are some flaws in his logic. First, he gives no rough data. Everything that he mentions is what he feels he sees in his practice. Now, there’s nothing wrong with using anecdotal evidence, but just because that’s what he sees, doesn’t mean that every pediatric urologist sees the same. Secondly, he seems very set that there’s only one solution which makes me wonder what diaper manufacturer paid him to write this.

      I think the important thing to take away from that article is that it’s important for parents not to be too quick to step back and let their kids be in charge of when they need to try to use the potty. Use a timer and when that timer goes off, don’t ask if they need to go, instead, tell them they need to try. As they try, explain ththe importance of not holding it in, and explain the importance of going as soon as they feel the urge.

      • Reply Hilary April 4, 2016 at 11:53 pm

        I just read the article too, and my impression was that, even though he gives a scary picture of early potty training, the moral of the story is that IF and WHEN you potty train early, you need to keep telling your child when to go, instead of leaving it up to them.

  • Reply Steph Reiner April 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    No, Roo. I can’t. I’m scared. Allie is 19 months old and Baby #2 will be here in June but still…. How about I fly you out here, you potty train her and I’ll reward you with a bag of Cheetos? Everyone wins!

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  • Reply Kelsey Stevens April 4, 2014 at 11:47 am

    I need help! My daughter who is 18 mths now is not liking the potty anymore. We started her just shy of a year old and she did really good for a month or so then would cry when I put her on the potty. Then she would do good again for maybe a week or so then do the same thing freak out when sat on the potty. Now its to the point she dont like to go on the potty at all. We tried buying her a new potty with her favorite minnie mouse. Still nothing. I put undies on her and she will pee and come tell me she peed and I say your suppose to pee in the potty! Her response no. I dont know what to do now can someone help me?

  • Reply laura April 12, 2014 at 5:43 am

    You are too funny!! hilarious in fact. BTW confetti is very appropriate for potty training sessions, haha. Good Job

    • Reply Roo April 29, 2014 at 10:17 pm

      Ha! Thank you so much, Laura! xo

  • Reply McKenzie April 13, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Hello, this post is awesome! Thank you for sharing! I was just wondering do you leave thr potty in the bathroom or potty train with it in the living room so its closer? Ive heard of both so I was just wondering what you did. Thank you!

    • Reply Roo April 29, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      Hey McKenzie! I’ve done both, but for the most part, I just keep it in the bathroom. :)

  • Reply Jen April 29, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Were your kiddos already interested in the potty before starting the process? I’m just curious because we’ve been introducing the concept to my almost 2-year-old son and he has very little interest.

    • Reply Roo April 29, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      I just kept a potty out in the main bathroom so they could get used to seeing it around. :) I’ve also – at times – put it in front of the TV and let them know they could sit on it for a little bit while they watch a show.

  • Reply Vanessa June 4, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    I have baby number four on the way while baby number three will be 15 months old!!! Thank you in advance for all your tips! I will be trying to potty train her soon after the baby comes!!

  • Reply michelleLG July 2, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Just dropping by here again for a little pre-game huddle action before i start pottypocalypse 2.0 with my toddler tomorrow! Girlfriend was 2 in march (vs 21mo when we tried this last) so hopin she’ll get the mechanics down easier this time. Have a 4mo babygirl too so there’s that. But whatevs. Insert gif of the “cool runnings” peptalk here. :) wish me luck!

  • Reply michelleLG July 5, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    DUDE, the dry-undies-check-timer is GENIUS!!!!!! i love it for a million reasons. in fact, i just linked and talked you up on my march2014 moms board on facebook. for any mom’s reading this post and considering the dry-check, here’s my “review” (read: confession of undying love for the dry-check):
    giving praise and rewards to my kiddo for keeping her undies dry has really helped us keep up positive momentum with potty training this time (vs when we tried and gave up back in January): just like Roo suggested we set our egg timer for small intervals (we’ve done every 5-45mins depending) and when it goes off we say “check your undies! are your undies dry?!” if they are dry we give tons of praise and she gets a treat (the first day it was a raisinette but now we’re doing stickers because holy sugar overload). spoiler alert, they’re always dry since we’re dealing with accidents pretty quickly. every time she pees on the potty or has an accident i just reset the timer. the first time we trained i felt like we had whole days with no successes (she never made it to the potty in time to get any pee in there) which made it hard for her and me to stay positive or for her to “get it.” added benefits of the dry check: it keeps us talking about the potty as often as i want (since i control the timer, bwahahahah) BUT its still up to her to tell me she has to pee- i’m not forcing her to sit on the potty eighty bazillion times a day. kwim? and i feel like i don’t have to pump her full of liquids just to keep her needing to pee in hopes of having a success (tons o fluids is good for the first couple days but i don’t want to keep that up for a week plus)- this way she’s still having “dry” successes even when she’s not drinking lots of extra fluids. last, all the dry successes have made a huge difference in my daughter’s enthusiasm for potty training. after three days of this, now when the timer goes off all i have to say is “there’s our timer! what should we do?” and she gets SUPER excited and says “check ya UNDIES!!!” and runs to the fridge where we’re keeping the timer and stickers/sticker chart. :)

    • Reply Roo July 27, 2014 at 9:48 am

      Michelle, I love this comment!! How’s it going? Success?


      • Reply MichelleLG January 5, 2016 at 1:55 pm

        Longest time lapse EVA but, to report back, YES she totally got it. :) and now I’m back for pottypalooza 2016 with her younger sister (22mo). Love, love, love your suggestions and plan to work it just like last time with the dry timer and bear in undies, the whole 9 yards. :)

  • Reply Danielle July 25, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    My 3 1/2 yr old wants nothing to do with the potty. Any mention of using the potty and she starts to freak out and cry!! She used it when we were potty training my son but now won’t even go near it to even sit with clothes on. Any helpful hints!?!

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  • Reply Auburney October 8, 2014 at 1:36 am

    Helpful tip for the traveling potty:
    Keep plastic bags (grocery bags) and pads or leftover diapers in the car with the potty. Place the bag inside the potty then stick the pad to the inside of the bag (or place open diaper inside bag). That way if you child does #1 or #2 the clean up is easy and mess free

  • Reply Maureen October 16, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I guess I don’t understand the big rush. I hope any mom knows with a 3+ year old child that it’s ok to let kids go at their own pace… and I feel like 2 is really young for potty training. Glad it works for you guys though.

    • Reply Roo October 17, 2014 at 10:09 am

      No rush here, but to each her own!

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  • Reply Phyllicia April 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    hello this post is super helpful but one question were your girls able to voice their need for the bathroom? my little lady doesnt do much talking that you can understand although when she wets her diaper she starts to strip down everytime pretty much. also my daughter is a super active most of the time and wondering if this has any affect on me potty training her. she is my first so i have no idea on how to really know how to potty train. thanks!!!!

  • Reply Stacey June 4, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    This is totally from Potty wise. I love this serious! Such great advice for raising kids!

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  • Reply Katrina October 12, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    I love this post! I found it after I had potty trained my son, I was looking for some reassurance that I wasn’t crazy to think that a boy can be potty trained before the age of 2. I definitely think the disposable diaper companies said to themselves: “how do we get parents to prolong the purchase of diapers?” And that’s how they created pull-ups! Anyways. Without prior experience, I just went with my gut (and my mother’s advice) I let my son run free! It took about a month from the first pee to being trained during the day, and naps (not nights yet). So yes, naked definitely helped, but then we had a bit of backslide when we tried to put pants or undies on (he thought it was a diaper). That’s when we started asking him constantly! He would also go on his potty without telling me, further delaying him from telling me before he would go. So I scrapped the potty and closed the door to the washroom after showing him the new location for his business. He eventually got the hint and started asking before going. Then undies weren’t a problem! Slowly went to the park, then the mall. We always go potty first before the car, before the mall, after the mall etc. consistency is key! Also chocolate covered raisins! We stopped giving treats and started a chart to put stickers and then he would get a toy or big treat after a full day accident free! (Usually got them if he did an accident because accidents happen and it’s not the end of the world!) He’s going to be 2 in a couple weeks and we are so proud to have a big boy with no diapers! Sure helps the laundry and saves water! Count down is on until our 9 month old is out of diapers as well! Don’t sweat the small defeats and always celebrate the small victories! Good luck Mommas! Keep calm and potty on!

    • Reply Roo November 3, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      Thanks for the great comment, Katrina!

  • Reply Priscilla December 16, 2015 at 1:02 am

    My daughter is 17 months, we’ve been potty training for about 2 1/2 weeks. So far, she has done great! She gets to put stickers on a dated chart we made for the wall outside of the bathroom! One thing that helps to get her to sit there a little longer, to try to get a successful potty time, is “letting” her brush her teeth. She thinks it’s a treat because of the sweet fruity child’s toothpaste.
    How do I get her to poo in the potty? It’s like she doesn’t understand that poop is potty time too. HELP :/

  • Reply Sarah January 6, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    This post is pretty darn awesome. It’s motivating me to get started on potty training. My daughter hides in the corner when she has to go #2, so she is aware that it’s coming. She is almost 19 months old and thought about waiting until 2 years old. Thanks for the links to your preferred potty chairs!


  • Reply hliz January 11, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Lol. Glad this works for some people but it didn’t for us, no variations of it has worked actually. I think some children are just going to be easy to train and some extremely difficult. To all the Moms who had such high hopes and are back looking for more help, you’re not alone!

  • Reply Krysten February 23, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    My daughter is 14 months almost 15 months now. She will sit on the potty chair and read her books but I’m not sure how to start potty training her. I’m doing this all on my own her dad hardly sill change a diaper poor baby gets left in a wet diaper too long when I’m not home. So I want to potty train but how do I start? With my work schedule I am not able to take time off and I am only off 1 day at a time..any suggestions

  • Reply MichelleLG May 28, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Y’alls, popping back in to say the dry timer and the bear in undies again for the win! Kid #2 trained at 22mo.
    Mamas looking for more supoort/info i highly recommend the bok “Oh Crap Potty Training” – soooo much good info on the “stages” of potty training and tons of troubleshooting tips. :)

    Also, just my two cents, but I have never known a kid in person who trained themselves. If you know how to use the potty, call yo mama and say thank you. ❤

  • Reply Joanna August 4, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Do you leave your child in a pull up for naptime also? Or just for going to bed a night?

    • Reply Roo September 2, 2016 at 10:05 am

      I did for naptime, yes!

  • Reply Jemma August 5, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    I think a very important thing is introducing the potty EARLY. So many people allow their child to learn that the normal routine is to go to the bathroom in a diaper and then after 2-3 years of that, expect that they can undo it all by saying, “Actually, BTW, you’re really supposed to go in the toilet.” I think it is important to introduce the potty early, by 12 months at the latest, if you want the child to learn that that is the proper procedure.

    We always kept a potty out in the open, even in the play area, so that they wouldn’t feel like they had to leave their play if they needed to go. And children that age often don’t have the control to run to a bathroom, so having the potty immediately accessible was key. Does it take effort on your part? Yes, yes it does. But I would rather put in the effort there than have to spend the next 2+ years of my life wiping smooshed poo off a tiny bum. That, in my mind, is waaaaay more effort than encouraging early potty learning.

    I have three children, with 2 years separating each of them, and everyone asks how it was to have two in diapers at a time and I can gladly say that I have no idea, because they all learned to use the potty by 18 months.

    • Reply Demise October 24, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      Stumbled upon this article and totally agree. This go round we started training our toddler a year earlier. She will be 2 this week and she has begun saying she had to “pee pee” and going to potty to do her business. It’s taken us a loooong time to get here but because she communicates so well it is easy to reiterate constantly about staying dry. It takes a lot of work but I agree. Who wants to wipe up poo for too long? It can be done.

  • Reply Angela DePoe September 9, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    I am amazed that not one mom mentioned maybe your child should first understand the concept of how to pull down/up their pants before we stress about potty training. I agree with all the great ideas but also need to see the big picture- if they can’t pull pant down/up – are you always available? Are you going to let them run naked while you are out doing errands? I think not so moms- do yourself a favor- encourage your child to take an interest in the potty chair. Try what you think might work. If it does GREAT! If it doesn’t after what you think is enough time – reevaluate and see if your child is truly ready (I don’t even suggest boys prior to 3, girls usually around 2-3). This is just my mom/grandma experience and I am not into frustration after training the 1st one. The second (boy) taught me quickly that frustration with laundry, cleaning, not quite ready and inability to pull pants down/up brought me great success in about a week or so when he actually was ready. The 3 (girl) and 2 grandkids later (1 of each) has brought potty success and much less stress and frustration when they could manuever their own clothing. Yes- I do cheat when I can. Shorts, just underwear on, dresses etc. all helped contribute to the early sucess. Good luck everyone!

  • Reply Alissa September 22, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    My little one is 18 months old. She’s great at holding her bladder, (overnight occasionally, naps almost always, 3-5 hour stints not unusual on a regular day, but once she’s on the potty she keeps holding it. We do occasional potty times (especially after waking dry, but in total we’ve had about 5 pees in the toilet over the last number of months. We’ve done a couple dry (er, wet) runs so far with trying the training pants and extra liquid and then she will go a couple times in the morning (before naptime comes), but never goes on the potty, usually a little after getting off or sometimes a little before. Do you think she’s not quite ready or would you have any other suggestions?

  • Reply Lindsay November 15, 2016 at 10:38 am

    I think we’re ready to give potty training a shot with my 18 month old. The holidays will give us enough time at home to get him trained (3 weeks). We’ve had the potty sitting out to get him used to it, and tried it a few times when he clearly has to poop. And he’s got the idea, when I ask him where pee and poop go he runs over and points in the potty. He likes to pour water from his sippy cup in there and clap for himself too. Ha ha. When he squats down I ask if he has to poop or pee, and he can usually tell me. So here goes! I do have a question though, he goes to daycare where they don’t potty train until 2 1/2. How do you deal with that when all of the kids in the class still wear diapers and he’s the only one switching to undies? I’m hoping 3 weeks will be long enough to prevent an immediate regression when he goes back to school, and that his teacher will be helpful in the process.

  • Reply Angel November 15, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    I read this article this morning and started shortly after that and we are still going with the time intervals. So far it is working great!!! I’m so excited. My daughter is 19months and has showed interest since about 15montha but I just couldn’t figure out how to get her to go in her potty. Then I read this and BOOM! She has gone twice so far and I plan on sticking with it (she loves the bear doing it with her part, 0plus the treat) I just want to say Thank you from the bottom of my heart, you helped me get things started in a way I didn’t think of. Now the rest is up to us! Thanks so much!!!

  • Reply Cassie January 12, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Love this article & the sense of humor!I’m going to try & start today with my 20 month old. Wish me luck,Thanks!

    • Reply Roo January 12, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Good luck, Cassie!

  • Reply Laura February 12, 2017 at 5:21 am

    Need to start potting training my little guy he nearly 2 1/2 it so overwhelming of how to start the process (more overwhelming trying to discuss it with my partner haha) your article seems very helpful & very simple have read other methods & it’s all very overwhelming so I shall start with this & see how I go. I have a 16 month old girl to so this will be fun 😊 First step buy lots of little boys undies 😊

  • Reply Lily April 5, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Hi Roo, I remember reading this blog post about 6 months ago. Proud to say my 22 month old has been fully potty trained day and night for the past 4 months. I’m writing a blog post on how to potty train day and night before two and wanted to include your daughters as case studies. Did they potty train day and night simultaneously or did nighttime dryness come later? Do you know of any good examples I may be able to add to the post?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

  • Reply Sarah May 3, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Do you have any suggestions for nighttime potty training? I also have 3 girls. My oldest is 3, will be 4 in August has been daytime potty trained since 19 months but still has to wear a diaper for nap and bedtime. I’m about to start potty training my second daughter that is 21 months and I don’t want to mess up nighttime potty training with her too.

  • Reply Sam Lynch June 15, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    I know this post is older and I don’t know if you’ll even see this, but if you do, I just want to say THANK YOU!! Tip #3 – rewarding dry undies – is what sealed the deal for us. We were 3 weeks into potty training and each accident was starting to feel like I was failing my child miserably. Then we put him in undies and started rewarding staying dry and he has had only one accident since (that was my fault – he told me but we were driving and couldn’t stop) and it has been a week now. Thank you thank you thank you!

    • Reply MichelleLG March 25, 2018 at 11:05 pm

      +1 Sam, the dry timer is a game changer and I tell ALL MY PEOPLE about it. We are gearing up to potty train my third (and last!) baby and I came here for the refresher because Roo is a boss.

  • Reply Parenting Passage August 7, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Totally agree that we should try to make potty training days as fun as possible. This helps both kid and parent.

  • Reply Ash September 14, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Haha love this, thank you! I appreciate your humor and needed and article like this one. My daughter is 18 months and loves imitating me when I go to the bathroom so I thought I’d give it a try but needed some advice. Thank you!

  • Reply claire January 13, 2018 at 7:02 am

    Advice please, i don’t want to make assumptions that my 19 month old girl is ready but would i take the fact that if i leave her nappy free, she starts to moan and heads toward the potty. This has only been going on for a few hours & the pee comes as she is just getting herself sat on the potty. She sits for only a few seconds & gets back up but every time she starts to pee she heads to the potty. If she is indeed ready, what should my next steps be? any advice is really appreciated

  • Reply Amber March 6, 2018 at 7:45 am

    I don’t know, I’m still a little skeptical. I tried potty training my daughter early and she just wasn’t ready so we waited a year and bam! She was trained in a weekend. My theory before kids was wait until they’re ready. But when I became a parent I thought it would be awesome for her to be out of diapers early. Now though, I’m back to the “wait until they’re ready” theory. I have friends who tried potty training early and it just seemed to drag on and on. I’d rather do it in a weekend. I don’t know though, everyone’s different and I do think boys generally take longer. But at this point I can’t imagine my 14 month old being trained in a few months! She’s a little more active than our 3 year old was.

  • Reply Keleigh April 20, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    I know this post is super old, but I’ve been scouring the internet for any and all potty training tips and yours is the first I’ve seen recommending treats for keeping undies dry!’ My son is doing great going on the potty (he knows what it’s for, knows how to go, etc) but doesn’t seem to care if he goes in the potty or in his pants. I’ve tried treats for going on the potty, but I just KNOW he’ll respond to treats for keeping his underwear dry! Can’t wait for him to get up for his nap so we can try it out! So THANK YOU for that hint and wish me luck :)

  • Reply Kala May 19, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    I started my daughter when she was 1yrs old. There wasn’t any consistent cuz I work 8 hrs a day then have to come home tired n take care of her. She’s now 17 months old showing lots of signs she’s ready. I put underwear on her yesterday n she went couple hrs without peeing n at night I put her diaper on. Today I put underwear on her after she got off potty n she peed in them. I guess I can’t expect it to happen over night lol.

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