23 Tips for Potty Training Your Toddler BEFORE 2 Years Old
Potty training can be a tough and stressful process for both a toddler and their parents, but there are ways to make it much easier.
Around 2, your toddler should have the full understanding, physical ability to hold their bladder, and signal that they need to use the bathroom.
Although this is a good age, some children are able to be potty trained before that. If you believe that your 1-year-old is capable, I would encourage you to try it as soon as possible!
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy. The total process took about 6 weeks before I would say that she was completely potty trained (even with some accidents here and there). However, it could have been quicker had I known the tips below.
Download your FREE printable Potty Training Chart to get your toddler started in a fun and motivating way!
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Tips for Potty Training Your 1-Year-Old
When you’re ready to start the process of potty training, make sure to follow these tips below for a quick and painless experience with your child. Although all children are different and may learn at different times, they all can be taught if using the correct principals.
1. Model and demonstrate
A good way to start exploring the concept of using the toilet is to take them in the bathroom with you. Kids learn the most through watching and modeling and they will want to imitate the actions they see.
So every time you go to the bathroom, bring them in with you.
- Show them how you pull up and down your underwear.
- Explain to them how you sit on the toilet and pee comes out.
- Talk about wiping, flushing, and washing your hands afterward.
This should begin before you actually start potty training. Soon they will want to help you and do all of these steps themselves!
2. They should have an understanding
It’s important to be aware
- what the toilet is
- what happens there
- what comes out of their body
- what ends up in their diaper
- how it feels when it comes out
By reading books, watching videos, and
You know your child best and should be able to determine what they can and can’t do. If your child understands a lot of other concepts well and is communicating easily, it’s probably a good time.
Make sure they are 100% ready before diving in to this process.
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3. Make it part of the daily routine
Talk about the potty ALL THE TIME. During diaper changes, meal times, play times, in the car, and while you’re in the bathroom. The more they hear about it, the more they will understand what will be happening and what’s expected of them.
4. Start gradual when introducing the potty
Around 18 months is when we started acclimating Brielle to all things potty because I knew I wanted to get her potty trained by 2. We spent a few months talking about it and putting her on the potty here-and-there.
I thought it was enough to get her to understand the potty and a good reason why she potty trained quickly.
Once I would decide to start, I would go for it more consistently. However, getting her slowly acclimated to the process helped a lot.
5. Start when you can devote a large chunk of time
Don’t start full blown potty training on a random Wednesday after work when they’re going to be in daycare for the next few days. The ideal time to start is at the beginning of a long weekend or the longest period of time that you will be staying at home.
Potty training takes a lot of time and dedication from YOU as the parent. It’s not all on your child.
Most people say your child can learn to potty train within 3 days, but I think that’s for children a little bit older. For these young ones, I would make sure you have a good 5 day stretch where you are home and committed to training.
6. Expect accidents
Your toddler will have accidents when they’re starting to potty train. Even when you think they are fully trained, they will STILL have accidents!
This is how they will learn. They have to feel themselves getting wet and the dripping down their legs to realize what isn’t right.
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7. Use the right equipment
Using the right tools can not only make potty training easier for your child, but simpler for you, as well. From toilet seats, to car seat liners, and lots in between, here are the products that can help make the process a bit easier:
Potty Seat with Steps
This Countered Cushion Step-Up Potty Seat has been fantastic with giving my toddler the independence she needs to get herself on and off the potty.
It’s so much easier to start using the regular potty from day 1 so that you don’t have to transition them from a small portable potty to the regular-sized one.
This potty seat makes it easy to climb up and sit right down on their own. The handles and step also help when she is pushing and trying hard to make. She can grab on and push down with her feet to give more force.
Portable Potty with Disposable Liners
This Portable Potty by Diaper Genie has been a lifesaver when we leave the house or even go outside in the backyard. There are convenient handles for carrying and my favorite feature: disposable liners!
You’re able to store the liners inside the potty and pull them out as needed. They make for super simple clean-up when you’re out because you’re not always close to a sink or toilet to dump out and clean it.
We bring this potty everywhere with us and it fits nicely under my stroller. This way I’m always prepared for when my daughter says she has to go.
It’s essential to have one of these portable potty seats with you at all times to prevent any accidents from happening.
Wet liner for car seat
When you’re potty training (and even shortly after), it’s wise to use a liner for the car seat. This way, if they have an accident in the car seat, you don’t have to wash the whole thing.
You simply take the liner out that soaked up most of the pee and the car seat should be dry. Imagine going on a trip, and your toddler has an accident, you don’t want to have to put them back in a wet car seat.
To help your child understand that they won’t be using diapers anymore, have underpants on hand. Perhaps you can get ones with their favorite characters, colors, or objects on them.
When you’re first starting to potty train, you should keep them bare-bottomed as much as possible. This helps them to really feel and see the wetness running down their leg.
My daughter initially would think that she could go in her underpants because she thought of it like a diaper. They won’t realize that they can’t until they have an accident and not like how it feels.
Always keep wipes in the bathroom for easy access. I use regular toilet paper to wipe my daughter when she pees, but find that wet wipes make clean-up much easier and cleaner for bowel movements.
8. Be 100% all in
Once you’re ready to start training, you need to be 100% dedicated to this process. It’s going to take time, patience, and persistence on both your end and your child’s.
Make sure your whole family is on board with this transition, including other parents, siblings, and caregivers that see them regularly.
We sent our daughter to a daycare that wasn’t very compliant with potty training. She had to still wear a diaper or pull-up unless she was 100% trained. This led to a lot of confusion for her because she would be urged to go on the potty at home and in the diaper at daycare. She eventually figured it out, but it defintiely delayed the process for us.
9. They should not wear bottoms
The best way to start potty training is to just get rid of the diaper and let them be bare-bottomed while you’re at home. This way, they will feel wet when they have an accident and be more aware of that sensation.
We actually had my daughter not wear any bottoms (pants or underwear) whenever she was at home for at least 3 weeks, until I knew she was mostly potty trained.
This ended up starting a little problem. She was almost completely potty trained when she was naked, but whenever she had underwear on, she would have accidents. This was because feeling clothing on her bottom made her feel like it was a diaper and she could just go in it.
However, once I knew she was potty trained bare-bottomed in the house, I put the underpants on her when at home. We had a couple accidents to start with, but it was the only way she would learn that underpants are not the same as diapers.
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10. Don’t use Pull-ups
A pull-up is not a necessary transition between diapers and underpants which many people think. Unless you feel it is necessary when you leave the house, you don’t need to put a pull-up on your child.
They are essentially the same as a diaper so they won’t feel the sensation of being wet!
Pull-ups just make it easy to pull on and off when you do take your child to the potty, but I don’t recommend them unless you’re worried about accidents when you’re out or during bedtime.
Find whatever it is that motivates them and place heavy emphasis on the fact that they will receive it if they make on the potty. Some kids will respond well to pretzels, goldfish, m&ms, stickers, or even just singing a song.
If your child has a really tough time even getting on the potty, you may want to reward him for merely sitting on it. My daughter didn’t have trouble sitting on it (in fact, she loved it even when she wouldn’t have to make), so we just rewarded her when she made on the potty.
Once she figured out that the reward is for going on the potty, she would say goldfish while running to the potty because she knew she would get it.
Once they are making often, or when you tell them it’s time to go, only give them the reward when they ask to go potty. Gradually fade out the reward to where they don’t need it anymore.
You want to start with the least restricted reward system. If your child has no problem getting on the potty, don’t give a reward everytime he sits on the potty. The reward should only be for something that they haven’t completely mastered yet.
You can use a sticker chart reward system like this one to encourage using the potty. Some children may get super excited by stickers and filling up the lines when they did a good job. Once they filled a row with stickers, they get a prize of their choice.
Download it this FREE printable potty training chart here.
12. Make it fun
Toddlers need to be entertained and thrive on stimulation. Make potty time fun by singing songs, playing games, and even acting silly. You can read books, play videos or even just talk about some of their favorite topics.
This will help them to enjoy potty time much more.
13. Fill them up
Make sure you’re offering them plenty of fluids throughout the day to ensure they have a lot of pees and poops. The more opportunities to go on the toilet, the better.
Even if they have more accidents because they are filled up, this gives you more opportunities to correct their actions. The more they drink, the more times they will go on the potty each day.
So keep offering them water and let them walk around with their water cup so they drink as much as possible.
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14. Books and videos
Books and videos about toilet training are very helpful to get your child learning about and eager for potty training.
A lot of their favorite characters have books, episodes or videos about potty training which will most likely get them really excited. Read the potty book before bed or leave it on their bookshelf so they can find it when they need.
We keep ours in the bathroom (we even got 2 copies so we could keep 1 in each bathroom she goes in) so she can look at it while on the potty.
Here are some great books that will help your child get excited for potty training:
As for videos, you can find a bunch on YouTube that you can show them while sitting on the potty or any other time. Here are my favorite sing-a-long Potty Training songs:
Being consistent with the potty training is the deciding factor on whether your little one will be successful. This is up to YOU, not them.
Potty training is just as much your responsibility as it is your child’s.
It can get frustrating at times, but don’t give up! If you take a day off or put diapers on for a few hours, it will just confuse them more. Follow the same routine day after day and it will come.
Hopefully you can start the process at the beginning of a long weekend. Stay home and focus on potty training the entire time.
However, you’ll end up having to leave the house at some point which is where it can get a little tricky.
My daughter’s daycare didn’t allow them to be in underpants until they were 100% potty trained. Therefore, she went in her diaper (or pull-up which is essentially the same) all day long and then at home she was expected to go on the potty.
It ended up confusing her and that’s why it took longer than it should have. If I could have just kept her home for a week or 2 and was consistent about the routine, she would have been trained much faster.
16. Respond quickly to their needs
In the beginning, they may frequently tell you that they have to go and sit on the potty while nothing comes out. This can get frsutrating and you may end up not taking them to the potty for everytime you hear “potty.”
However, this is how they simply learn to get what they want.
As soon as they say potty, bring them to the toilet to prevent accidents from happening.
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17. Set a timer, or don’t
When a toddler starts potty training, they won’t know what the sensation of having to go feels like. Therefore, you can’t expect them to just tell you when they have to go.
That’s why setting a timer may help you to catch them having to pee before they have an accident.
We started using the timer to catch my daughter at the right time, but it didn’t work out.
It just seemed that these time limits were too frequent and she was getting more frustrated by being told to go on the potty when she knew she didn’t have to or didn’t want to go.
Therefore, we stopped doing the timer method and just gauged how long it had been since her last elimination and went from there. If she didn’t ask to go, we probably put her on the potty about every 30 minutes (but again, didn’t use a timer).
18. Offer distractions while on the potty
There were many times that Brielle would hop off the potty as soon as we put her on yelling “all done mommy.” Some of those times she actually wouldn’t have to go, but others, I know she just wanted to get back to her previous activity.
When I distracted her, she would stay on the potty longer and a lot of times her muscles would relax and she would make. I always had distractions that I knew she would be interested in.
We would read books, sing songs, peel off stickers, watch videos, eat snacks, etc.
19. Don’t train at bedtime yet
It’s much harder for your child to learn how to hold their bladder for 10-12 hours straight at night. Allow them to wear a diaper or pull-up for bedtime until they are consistently not wetting it when you change them in the morning.
I was satisfied with my child being potty trained all day if she just needed to wear a diaper at night (at least it made less laundry for me to do!).
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20. Be prepared for messes and make clean up easy
The accidents can get messy, but be prepared to make clean up easier!
If it’s possible:
- Keep them on tile or hardwood floors (instead of carpet or rugs)
- Keep spray cleaner or disinfectant within your reach, but out of theirs
- Line couches, chairs or places that they sit with plastic, garbage bags, or mattress covers
- Keep waterproof mattress cover on crib or toddler bed
- Double line cribs and toddler beds when potty training it overnight
- Use a waterproof pad for the car seat
21. Encourage Independence
At this age, toddlers want to do everything on their own. They’d rather feed themselves, open their doors, and put on their own clothes.
It’s the same thing for using the potty.
Your toddler will be very interested in all of the aspects of using the potty and then steps that go along with it. Therefore, let them pull their pants on and off, rip off the toilet paper, flush the toilet, turn on the sink, and wash their hands.
The more you give them the independence to practice these skills on their own, the better they will get and the more interested in the potty they will be.
22. Don’t be hard on them
Potty training is a huge transition for any child. If they aren’t ready yet, there could be a lot of push back from them.
Remember, it’s not as easy as it seems to us adults. Toddlers have to work really hard at this skill, but you know it will come eventually.
The worst thing you can do is push them too hard or get angry with them when it’s not going well. This will hurt them and backfire immensely.
Be kind and use gentle words during the whole process of potty training, even when you’re frustrated!
23. Give them a break if they need it
If you’ve been trying to potty train for a while now and just don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, it’s ok to stop. Give yourself and your child a break and come back to it in a
It can be stressful
If you end up forcing it or getting them frustrated, it could have a reverse effect and they may have a severe aversion to it.
Don’t forget to download your FREE printable Potty Training Chart to get your toddler started in a fun and motivating way!
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