15 Clever Tricks to Take Potty Training From Awful to Awesome

15 Clever Tricks to Take Potty Training From Awful to Awesome
Image: iStock.com/saklakova


Walking away from the diaper pail for good is every parent's most cherished dream, but getting a tot to use the big people potty is usually easier said than done. We all know the basics to try and tempt small kids to use the bathroom, like getting them their own special "throne" or bribing them with candy and prizes. But beyond a tiny plastic potty chair and super cool cartoon undies, what else is there for parents to do besides cross their fingers and hope for the best? Well, that's where the Internet comes in.

Brilliant parents share tons of smart hacks online for getting started with potty training and helping toddlers fall in love with the idea of using the big kid toilet. Whether it's crafting a DIY urinal (yes, really -- and it's actually kind of a cute idea!) or enlisting some older siblings to help set a positive potty example for the youngest members of the family, there's no end to the creativity of parents on a mission to potty train. Thank goodness we all live in the age of social media, right?

More from CafeMom: 8 Signs an Awesome Potty Training Plan Is Failing

To help moms and dads in the trenches, we've rounded up 15 of the very best and smartest potty training hacks from parents on Instagram who've been in those (possibly damp) toilet training shoes. With their clever advice and a little bit (okay, a lot) of good luck, exhausted moms, dads, and little ones everywhere might finally get the chance to say "see ya" to diapers forever.


  • Keep rewards right in the bathroom


    Jars with treats for going number one and number two will literally help tots keep their eyes on the prize. 

  • Put older siblings to work


    When you need a break from being the potty cheerleader, tag in big brother or sister for some fresh encouragement. Your youngest loves to copy everything they do anyway, so this just may be the secret to potty training success. 

  • Make potty training a part of your normal schedule


    Rather than stress over the thought of spending days (if not weeks) in front of the potty, stick to your regular routine as much as you can. Yoga while she go-ga-s? Why not!

  • Set them up for success


    Having wipes, toilet paper, and some books right next to the potty means your toddler (and you) will have everything you need on hand when nature finally calls. 

  • Try a playful timer


    Having your children try and use the potty at regular intervals can be helpful when they're first starting on their potty training journey. A fun timer will reminder you both when it's time to head to the bathroom again. 

  • Combine playtime with pottytime


    New potty trainers still learning the sensation of when they need to "go" may find themselves spending a lot of time on the potty waiting. Prevent boredom and keep them excited about potty training by bringing their favorite toys into the mix. 

  • Never underestimate the power of a sticker chart


    Who knows what it is about paper that's sticky on one side, but kids are willing to do almost anything for it -- including go potty like a big kid. Use that weakness to your advantage and you'll have a fully potty-trained kid in no time. 

  • Give them a target


    Some vinyl stickers in the bottom of the potty (or some Cheerios if you're short on time) will give your son something to aim at. That means fewer gross messes!

  • Plan ahead


    When you gotta go, you gotta go. A travel potty in the car will help prevent accidents (and cut down on trips into gross gas station bathrooms!). 

  • Conserve your TP


    Prevent your enthusiastic potty trainers from blowing through all the toilet paper on day 1 by marking a line on the wall showing them how much they can use each time they go. 

  • Let technology help


    If your active tot can't be bothered to sit still long enough to go, consider leaning on some screen time for help. After all, don't we all scroll through our phones when taking some personal time in the bathroom?

  • Get them involved


    Change is hard when you haven't been on the planet long. Make your tots feel in control of potty training by letting them pick out their own big kid undies and special rewards. 

  • Try a DIY urinal


    If you think your little man might like standing to go better but you don't want to spring for an expensive kiddie urinal just to test the theory, you can craft your own using an empty milk jug. 

  • Practice makes perfect


    Try not to get frustrated if your children don't get the hang of potty training right away. Everything's new to them! But no one goes to college in diapers, so they'll figure it out soon enough. 

  • Encourage lots of drinking


    The more water they drink, the more chances to practicing the potty, so go ahead and hydrate away!

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