Our guide on how to conquer potty training 101

It’s easy to get down in the dumps helping your kiddo conquer the commode, but this painstaking process is worth doing right. Experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics agree a positive, gentle approach is best. Follow this age-appropriate guide on how to conquer potty training and achieve potty success.

At 18 months

Use the correct words for poop and pee and encourage your child to do the same. Change your child often, and encourage him to come to you when he needs a fresh diaper. Avoid referring poop as “yucky”, rather, make diaper changes pleasant.

At 21 months

Introduce a potty chair and toilet by transferring poop from dirty diapers into the toilet. Ask your toddler to sit on the potty chair while you read with or play games with her. Ask her to sit on her potty chair while you use the toilet, or have her observe an older sibling using the toilet.

At 2 years

Let your child pretend to train a beloved teddy bear or baby doll to use the potty. Watch educational videos or read helpful books. Introduce wearing underwear as a privilege, and put them somewhere visible. Start practice runs to the potty when you notice your child needs to go.

At 2+ years

Once your child has successfully used the potty and understands the process, try what AAP calls “the bare-bottom weekend.” Commit to several hours with just you and your child—with no interruptions—during which time your child won’t wear any diapers, pull-ups, or underwear—nothing below the waist. This trial-and-error experiment could lead to a major breakthrough for your little one.


Tools of the Trade to Conquer Potty Training


  • Potty chair: Your child’s feet should touch the floor when seated.
  • Training pants: These introduce the idea of underwear while minimizing accidents.
  • Underwear:Let your wee one choose their underpants, and use underwear as a treat to encourage him.


Dos and Don’ts on Potty Training


Do praise your child when she comes to you with a soiled diaper or in anticipation of needing a change.

Don’t discipline or punish your child if he has an accident. Say something like, “You’ll get the hang of this! You’re doing a great job!”

Do encourage with rewards like animal crackers or stickers—make a little chart to celebrate successes near the potty.

Don’t get frustrated—children will pick up on your feelings and may become overwhelmed. There’s no need to rush; it will happen will practice and determination.

Now that you know how to conquer potty training you should also read our article on Considering Diaper Options and also go to our main Healthy Babies section for many more helpful features for you and your baby.


Carolyn Davis Cockey, MLS, LCCE, is founding editor of Healthy Mom&Baby, Senior Director of Partnerships & Publications at AWHONN, and a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator in Sarasota, FL.

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