12 Moms Share Their Game-Changing Potty-Training Advice

potty training

There are few parenting milestones more exciting than the day your kid finally "gets" potty training. Having a potty-trained kid feels liberating and totally awesome. But let's be honest -- getting there isn't always totally awesome.


Potty training can be a little crazy -- and a lot of work -- for parents. Not only will you get to see the inside of every single public restroom you encounter (the grosser, the better seemed to be my kid's theory), but there can also be some anxiety about how to make sure the process is a positive one for all involved.

Also? You will step in pee at some point. This is guaranteed.

Thankfully, potty training is one of those universal mom experiences, so it was easy for me to find 12 moms who were happy to share the tips and tricks that worked for them. Whether your kid is just starting to think about the potty or is in the thick of it, hopefully at least one of these ideas will be a game changer for you!

Set a Strategic Play Date

"Set up a playdate with a recently potty-trained friend. It was really helpful for my son to see his buddy stopping to play to go potty. I think it helped him pay more attention to his own body giving him the pee signals." -- Marjorie H., Liberal, Kansas

Pack Noise-Canceling Headphones

"My daughter was terrified of the automatic flush in public restrooms. She ended up having accidents a lot in public because she wouldn't go into bathrooms with auto flush or with really loud hand driers. I finally got wise and got her headphones to wear to block some of the noise. Carried those suckers in my purse for a full year. Totally worth it." -- Shannon G., Las Vegas, Nevada

Set a Schedule & Post It

"I think putting kids on a schedule (and pushing the fluids so they'll need to go) is the key. To let my strong-willed kid feel like he has some more control over the experience, I used a white board and every morning we agreed together about what time he'd try to use the potty. That way when I told him it was time to go, he'd check the board and then go!" -- Julia G., Roseville, Minnesota

More from CafeMom: 13 Seriously Funny Potty-Training Memes -- Because the Struggle Is Real, People

Feed the Piggy Bank

"I didn't want to use food as a reward for potty training, but that doesn't mean I'm not above bribery! We made a deal that every time he sat on the potty, he got a nickel. He got a dime for pee and a quarter for poop. We made a special potty-training piggy bank and he is saving for a toy he really wants." -- Mary Anna D., Fayetteville, Arkansas 

Let Your Kid Take the Lead

"Wait for them to really, truly be ready. With my first kid, I started the day she turned 2 because that was the schedule I had in mind. It took forever and was a really stressful process. She wasn't fully trained until 3.5 years old. With my second kid, I waited until he was practically begging to start. He was almost 3.5 and he was potty trained in, like, three days. Totally different experience." -- Irene G., Green Bay, Wisconsin

Have Her Sit Backwards

"My kid did pretty well on the little potty but would make a terrible mess on the big potty. She'd get pee everywhere, mostly because she wasn't sitting far enough back. We got a little step stool for her to get on the potty and had her sit facing backwards (so she was facing the tank) because she felt more stable that way. Less pee on the seat and the floor was better for everyone." -- Sue T., Tucson, Arizona

Stick to Elastic Waistbands

"Tip from a preschool teacher (and a mom): Make sure your kid's clothes are potty training friendly! Kids who are just starting to train usually have a VERY limited time between realizing they need to go and having an accident. Pants and shorts that are easy to pull down are key. I've seen plenty of accidents caused by overalls, rompers with tricky snaps, and buttons and zippers. Elastic waistbands are key! Fewer accidents means a more confident kid." -- Elaine H., Morgantown, West Virginia

Give Him Choice

"Letting my son choose what kind of big-boy underwear he was going to get was a big motivator for him!" -- Millie D., Des Moines, Iowa

More from CafeMom: 12 Foods & Drinks That Will Help Your Kids Poop

Prevent Constipation

"One thing I learned along the way was to make sure your child doesn't get constipated. Constipation set us back a full year on getting poop trained. Having it hurt while he pooped made him extra afraid of the potty, and that fear made everything worse. Keep feeding them liquids and fiber to make sure things stay regular and easy." -- Kirsten D., Grand Rapids, Michigan

Enlist a Teacher's Help

"My son was totally uninterested in potty training until he started preschool and saw all the other kids doing it. It was the very best kind of peer pressure." -- Gretchen R., Saint Paul, Minnesota

... Or Your Spouse's Help

"I'm a stay-at-home mom; I am with my son 24/7, so he sees me going to the bathroom all the time. But when I left town for a weekend and he was home with my husband, the potty training really clicked. I think seeing his dad stand up and go was highly motivating. I think it made him feel like a big guy to pee like Dad. So I guess my advice for potty training boys is to let the man of the house take over!" -- Alice D., San Jose, California

Create a Bathroom Reading Station

"My daughter takes after her father and likes to take her sweet time trying to use the potty. I put a stack of board books and kid magazines next to her little potty so she'll happily sit for long enough to get the job done." -- Mariza C., Ames, Iowa

Hopefully these tips -- plus a little bit of time -- will get you on the way to having a potty-trained kid.

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