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The Best Potty Training Tips from Experts and Parents

Do you count down the days until the transition to the bathroom? Maybe you’re already making a few failed attempts at the transition. Whatever the case, your child must be ready to toilet train. Don’t worry; they will soon be.
Carol Stevenson, a mother of three, from Stevenson Ranch in California, says that no child will graduate high school without diapers. Each one was trained at a different age. It’s easy to get caught up in worrying that your child is older than you are. This adds pressure and makes it a struggle.

If your child is ready to give up diapers, you can try these tips for potty training from parents and experts to help make it easier.

Timing of potty training

If things take a while, don’t be discouraged. According to a study by the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, potty training can take approximately a year. “The two biggest surprises are that toilet-teaching doesn’t speed up and it’s not smooth,” Dr. Maureen O’Brien (Ph.D.), director of parenting at The First Years in Avon, Massachusetts and author of Watch Me Grow, I’m One-Two Three. “There are many areas that need to align first. The child must communicate well, understand his bodily sensations, and know how long he will need to reach his goals.

Practicing Patience

“When my daughter was around 26 months old, we used the toilet every 10 minutes even if we were not out. Slowly, we worked our way up to 15 minutes, 20 minute, etc. and she was able to pee independently after a few days. Poop was another story. I had to goad the girl with M&Ms! –Elissa Murnick; Fairfield, Connecticut

My son was able to use the potty quite quickly. However, it took some effort to master number 2. We had to be alert for his cues to know if he was going to the toilet. To make the wait less painful, we read to him. Patience, patience, patience are the keys to success. –Karen J. Wright; Mankato, Minnesota

Following a Routine

Jen Singer, a mother of two and author of Stop Second-Guessing Yourself parenting book, is consistent. She is also a member the Huggies Pull-Ups Potty Training Partners. You need to make sure you are doing the same things at home as you do outside of your potty training program. Talk to your daycare provider if your child likes to read while using the potty. Remember that daycare centers might not be able to tailor potty training for every child. Ask them how they think they could help you achieve the same success at home. Bring home something that will work at daycare. Get some soap for your child if they love the soap at school.

Being Consistent

“I wish that I could claim credit for his training. But the incredible teachers at his daycare did the hard work: He was able to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes without fail. At home, we followed their example. He was inspired by his classmates’ experience on the potty. –Roberta Perry, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

We found out that our son was not interested in going on his own. So we created the Potty Watch. He loved it. This wrist watch can be programmed to play music and light up at 30, 60, or 90 minute intervals. Then it resets itself and begins the countdown again. –Heather Ledeboer, Athol (Idaho)

“When my son turned 17 months, I began putting him on the toilet every evening while I was bathing him. He was encouraged by the sound of running water and we were able to succeed within a few nights. The routine was the same every night. Slowly, we began to make more trips to the toilet throughout the day. This method worked well for all three of my children. Shannon; Stevensville MD

Use Rewards

Two words: Mini M&Ms! Your child will get two to three M&M’s for every time she goes potty. If she wipes her own (a big challenge for us), she will get four or five. This is a huge difference, as I believe one of the main reasons children don’t like going to the toilet is that the process of learning how to clean up is tedious. — Donna Johnson; Charlotte, North Carolina

“I recommend using bribery to motivate potty training. A small plastic piggy bank was kept in the bathroom. We rewarded each success with one penny for pee and two dollars for pooping. Our daughter was fascinated by the piggy. She would look at it with a wide-eyed gleam in her eyes and comment on how heavy it was becoming. We took her potty win and gave it to her for quarters so she could go on rides at the mall. –Lisa Spicer; Los Angeles, California

“Every time our toddlers used the toilet, I made their outfits with stickers. Their father was proud to see their rows of stickers, which looked like an army general’s star. They got twice the praise for their success with potty training, and I was able to give them an easy and inexpensive reward. –Jen Singer; Kinnelon, New Jersey

We tried Cheerios and M&Ms, potty chart, Cheerios, M&Ms, M&Ms, M&Ms, cheerleader rants, and screams but nothing worked. My son is obsessed with cars and trucks. Luckily, Cars just came out. My husband searched the local shops to find all the figurines in the movie. After watching the movie, we explained to our son that he would get a car every time he went to the toilet. It was amazing. He was completely potty-trained after 15 cars. Disney would be proud. –Darlene Fiske; Austin, Texas

Praising Your Child

“I have heard all the tips for potty training: stickers, bribing with toys and special underpants. You have to choose something that is consistent with your parenting style. I have never used rewards elsewhere so I decided to not start here. It worked: I gave my children lots of love, affection, and positive reinforcement when they were successful. It is important to make a big deal of small steps of progress. — Diane Hund; Elmhurst, Illinois

“I didn’t use any special stuff-no potty rings, kiddie toilets or pull-ups–because my daughters didn’t believe in them at the local YMCA. Even though we had to sign a contract, it stated that we would follow their home potty training policy. When I felt they needed to go, I was told to put them (aged 2 1/2 and 3 years) on the regular toilet. After one week of lots of “Yeah!” You achieved number two! You did number two! You did a great job! They were done with very few accidents. They were only developmentally ready, all things considered. –Sandra Gordon; Weston, Connecticut

Selecting a location

“We found the kiddie lids on the top of the toilet to be too scary for us to use immediately. They can also be too difficult to use as children often need a step stool to get to the toilet. My 2-year-old daughter was given a mini-Elmo toilet seat to use, which I kept in her living room as she used it most often. It was gradually moved closer and closer to her bathroom until we finally got a Dora toilet seat. Tracy Burton, Grand Ledge (Michigan)

To relieve pressure on our daughter, we placed the potty next to her bed. This allowed her to have her own space. She was able to get it done faster, especially in the mornings and at night. The same technique worked well for our second child. “–Anne & Ben, Cheshire CT