The New Mom's Guide to Potty Training your Toddler

Back when I was a first-time Mom and worked full-time, I constantly peppered one of my office-mates with questions about how he parented his five (!) littles. He had three boys and so I asked him on a number of occasions how he potty trained his sons so that I could develop a course of action when Charlie's time came. Every time he responded with, "we didn't really do anything." Thanks, dude. Helpful.

The New Mom's Guide to Potty Training your Toddler


When Charlie turned two the day after Christmas, he got a Disney Little Boys' 7-Pack Brief for his birthday. I also got him a Mickey Mouse- Soft Potty Seat that I just happened to see on a random trip to Big Lots. We already had the Potty (Board Book) by Leslie Patricelli so I started keeping it on our over-the-toilet shelf for Charlie to read when he was in the bathroom. We had him sit on his potty seat here and there, but he honestly just didn't really get it or have the patience to sit still for an extended period of time.

At Easter time, my Mom sent him an Easter basket filled with marshmallow Peeps. Being the mean Mommy that I am, I withheld his Peeps and told him he could have one if he sat on the toilet for a set amount of time. We started with 10 seconds, then 30 seconds, then 1 minute, and worked ourselves all the way up to 10 minutes. He never actually went, but it familiarized him with the sensation of sitting on the potty and we also got to practice our counting!

Over the summer, one of the neighbors on our block had a yard sale. They had the Summer Infant My Size Potty for sale, so I bought it on a whim (is it weird that I bought a used potty? Oh well, it was cheap!). Charlie still didn't seem ready to start going, but he was finally taking more of an interest now that he had a my-sized potty of his own.


I read up a little bit on the 3-day method, and different potty training books, but I just didn't commit to intensive potty training. Firstly, because my summer schedule is completely erratic and there was never a time when Chuck and I would both be home to tackle it together. Secondly, because I'm slightly lazy and felt overwhelmed as to where to start. I just kept putting it off and hoped that Charlie would give us some kind of a sign when he was ready.

As it happened, my procrastination paid off. Right when Charlie turned three in December, it was like the metaphorical lightbulb in his head went on- and he was ready! He started taking the initiative to sit on his potty all on his own. The first time Chuck and I both stood there cheering him on until he (hilariously) asked us for privacy. We both left the room, closed the door, and not five seconds later we heard a little voice yell, "I peed!" I still find it hysterical that he needed privacy to go his first time.


It's been about two months since he started and we've developed a solid potty routine. He takes the initiative to go to the potty by himself when he feels the urge and lets us know when he's done. Once one of us has investigated, we use Seventh Generation Free & Clear Baby Wipes or Aldi brand wipes when needed and then he hops up on his Toddler Bathroom Step Stool to wash his hands. (I totally didn't even think about the fact that we'd still need to keep baby wipes in the bathroom during potty training. Duh.).

We've used different kids of rewards- Peeps, Skittles, but my favorite is this bag of M&M Plain Chocolate Candy - Resealable Zipper. I love that the bag reseals, so I can just keep it in our bathroom closet and seal it back up when we're done. I dump the contents of his potty into our toilet and then I rinse it out with hot water and Lysol Multi-Purpose Cleaner Spray. I don't generally use a sponge unless it's clearly necessary (ain't nobody got time for that).

Although it's not specifically a potty training item, I also have to mention these Fresh Wave Odor Removing Gel- 3 Pack that we've started keeping in the bathroom. I bought them at Costco on a whim (are you sensing a theme here?) and I'm seriously obsessed! The gel absorbs all the yucky bathroom smells and gives off the yummiest scent. If you're turned off by super artificially-scented products, I can't recommend these enough. It's a really subtle, natural pine and cloves smell that I looooove.

Just last week, Charlie started officially used the potty at his daycare. He wears his undies at home and then wears The Honest Company Training Pants to daycare. There are still some mornings when he goes in his diaper or pull-ups before he makes it to the potty, but he really hasn't had many accidents. At this point, I can confidently say- our boy is potty trained!


So, what have I learned about potty training a toddler? That my former co-worker was absolutely correct. I really didn't have to do anything except exercise some major patience and wait for Charlie to let me know that he was ready to start using the potty. And when I did, he totally took the lead and has made it a really painless process for us. We still have to make the transition from his little potty to the big toilet and he'll obviously have to figure out how to wipe himself, eventually. But I'm optimistic that the process will continue to happen organically as it has for us so far.

Are you potty training your child for the first time? What questions do you have?

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