Successful Potty Training - How we did it + 5 Essential Tips for Potty Training Success

Successfully potty training a two-year-old is no small thing.  It's an important milestone, but one that a lot of parents dread, and if you've never done it before it can be rather daunting (I know this is how I felt about it!)

Everyone has a different experience, with ups and downs, but there are some universal tips for potty training success that I think can apply to pretty much everyone.  I've included my 5 essential tips for potty training success at the end of this post.  It may be quite simple advice, but I think it would have helped me take a more relaxed attitude during the potty training process and not worry so much.

It's taken me a while to get round to it, but I thought I'd give some closure to my Potty Training Diaries , a series of posts I wrote while I was potty training my daughter last summer, with an update on her progress since the last post, a brief summary of how it went and some reflection on the whole process in hindsight.  

We started potty training last summer and now, nine months or so later, the whole business of buying nappies, changing nappies (or diapers!), starting with pull-ups and little accidents feels like a distant memory.  Even the potty is a thing of the past.

I definitely don't have a baby anymore.  I can't even call her a toddler; she's a Big Girl, as she keeps telling me herself.

Successful Potty Training How To And 5 Essential Tips for Potty Training Success, Potty Training a Two Year Old, Night time Potty Training, Parenting, Toddler Milestones

The whole potty training experience certainly took a lot longer than the three days I read about in more than a few posts, but it didn't take more than a month to establish the foundations of daytime potty training.  It wasn't completely painless and problem-free (I wasn't expecting it to be, I'm not delusional!), but it wasn't too bad once we'd got over the main obstacle and by the end of the month my Big Girl had definitely "got it" - success!  

Night time training, once we eventually got to it, was - amazingly - completely painless and problem free, 100% dry with not a single accident.  I wasn't expecting it to be that easy at all so I'm very grateful for that!

Before Potty Training 

We bought a potty well before starting potty training, around April or May last year, but I planned to start in my summer holidays in July.  Emma would be 28 months old then, I would be at home for three weeks and we had no plans to travel anywhere, so it would be the ideal time.  I was clueless how to go about it, though.

Before the summer holidays started, I did a bit of research, set up a potty training board on Pinterest and pinned a variety of articles on the topic.  A lot of them claimed it could be done in three days.  I liked the sound of that - get it over with quickly - but was sceptical.  Things don't happen that quickly in my world.  Still, I took away some ideas of how I wanted to go about it:

  • No nappies and no pull-ups, except at night
  • For the first few days set up a "living area" in one part of the house with the potty close by and stay in that area all day
  • Stay at home for the first few days 
  • Give Emma lots of juice to drink and encourage her to sit on the potty frequently 
  • Let her walk around with a bare bottom the first day or two 
  • Use a reward chart with stickers for positive reinforcement and motivation 
  • No negative comments 
Meanwhile, since we bought the potty, Emma's grandmother had been encouraging her to sit on the potty from time to time at a time of day when she usually needed a nappy change to get her used to using the potty.  The rest of the time she was wearing a nappy as usual.  During this time she actually did a wee or poo on the potty a few times, maybe three or four times in about two months.

Our Potty Training Experience 


I bought some stickers, a few pairs of knickers and plenty of juice, I made a sticker chart to stick on the bathroom door and I made sure I had cleaning supplies and a bucket and mop to hand!

You can read about our potty training adventures in more detail in my Potty Training Diary series of posts from that time, starting with Potty Training Diary Days 1 & 2.

Successful Potty Training How To, 5 Essential Tips For Potty Training Success, Potty Training Reward Chart, Potty Training a Two year Old
Emma rearranging the stickers on her reward chart!  Guess I didn't think that one through very well!

Stumbling Blocks

The first few days saw some small successes mixed in with a few accidents, as you might expect.

At first, Emma was spending a long time just sitting on the potty without doing anything.  She was reluctant to get off the potty, but seemed to be holding everything in.

The stickers were a great attraction at first, but the sticker chart soon became redundant as she kept peeling off the stickers that were already on there and moving them around!

The other thing was that we weren't advancing very fast through the chart.  The stickers were of course rewards for doing a wee or poo in the potty, but this was not happening very frequently.  It wasn't that she was having lots of accidents - she had very few of them.  She just wasn't doing ANYTHING!  She also wasn't drinking enough, despite me constantly offering her juice - she would take a little sip and that was it.  She wasn't eating very well either - she's a pretty fussy eater anyway, and it got worse during this time.

The second week of potty training was the most difficult.  It got very worrying when at one point she hadn't done a wee in at least 24 hours and hadn't pooed in two days.  She seemed to be blocking herself, unconsciously holding it all in, which wasn't good at all.  I succumbed to using pull-ups to take her out for walks and I think the exercise combined with the sense of security wearing the pull-ups gave her at least helped her to get it all out - although it was in the pull-ups, but I didn't care at that point.


It did start to get better towards the end of that week.  Emma was beginning to get into a bit of a routine as far as using the potty was concerned.  By the third week of potty training Emma was doing really well and I felt like we'd cracked it (while hoping I wasn't being over-confident!).  

She had a couple of accidents, but the main test came when we had to go to Mexico City.  It's normally a two-and-a-half hour trip, but in reality was three and a half hours due to traffic.  I had decided that it would be easier for Emma to wear pull-ups that weekend, but actually they stayed dry the whole time.  We stayed at relatives' houses and while we were there Emma used the big toilet several times a day, letting me know when she needed to go.  She even used the toilet in a restaurant. I was so proud of her! 

When we got back home after this trip, I noticed that Emma was using the potty more frequently and sitting on it for less time, definitely a sign that she was feeling more comfortable with it.

We kept the pull-ups just for nighttime and used knickers during the day from then on! Those little accidents became very few and far between.

Dry Nights 

Since pretty much mastering daytime training, Emma had continued using pullups at night but more often than not they were still dry in the morning.  Occasionally she would wake up crying in the middle of the night and it would turn out that she needed to use the potty, although she wouldn't tell us as she was more asleep than awake.

So these were clear signs of her readiness for night time training, but still I hesitated and waited longer.  Just to be sure! No point in rushing it, right?

I finally took the plunge somewhere between two and three months after daytime potty training.  We got to the last pull-up in the last pack and I'd decided not to buy any more.  I told Emma she was such a big girl now that she didn't need to wear a pull up at night any longer.  She was quite happy about that and to date she's never had a single accident during the night.  A few rare accidents during the day, yes, but none at night.  I'm pretty amazed at her achievement!

From Potty to Toilet

At around this time, although I don't remember exactly when, Emma made the definitive transition from potty to toilet.  She started using the big toilet occasionally while she was still potty training, but at that time she usually preferred to use the potty.  Of course, she would be fine with using toilets in restaurants or other people's houses when we were out and about, but at home she mostly chose the potty.

Little by little, this preference shifted and it wasn't long before the potty just seemed too small and too inconvenient and Emma stopped using it altogether.  She'd outgrown another phase already.   Later she would say to me, "I don't use the potty anymore.  I'm a big girl; I use the toilet!"  In her eyes, the potty had already been relegated to the realm of baby things.

Toilet conversations!

We've had some funny little conversations with Emma sitting on the toilet.  

She once told me quite seriously, " The daddy is the poo poo, the mummy is the pee pee and the baby is the pun (fart)!"  That really had me in stitches.

Lately, she'll ask me to close the bathroom door.  When I ask her why, she answers, "So they can't see my poo poo!" 

A sure sign that she's finished is when she starts singing at the top of her voice.

Becoming independent

We have a few more things to work on before Emma can use the toilet completely independently.

She can get on and off the toilet by herself but usually she wants to be helped.

She still needs someone to wipe her clean, although occasionally she wants to do it herself. She will need more help and practice to become more autonomous in this.

She can pull her knickers down and up again by herself; the rest of her clothes too if they don't have fastenings, but obviously buttons and zips still pose a problem.

She usually needs help to wash her hands properly; she can reach by standing on a step but it's still tricky to turn the tap on and get soap from the dispenser.  If I let her she spends ages washing her hands and playing that her hands are having a shower!

Anyway, it's all part of a process that takes time, but hopefully the most difficult part is done.

5 Essential Tips for Potty Training Success - your way!

I think these are the most important things to remember, and they can apply to everyone and anyone.

Successful Potty Training How We Did It + 5 Essential Tips for Potty Training Success

1. Timing is everything

So you think your child is ready for potty training, but are you? Make sure the timing is right for everyone involved.  Firstly, are you in the right place and state of mind to tackle this new adventure? If you're having to deal with big upheavals in your life, or family problems or more than usual work stress then this is not the time to start potty training.

If there are a lot of changes going on in your child's life maybe it's best to wait until things settle down a bit.  Adding another big change like potty training to the mix is probably not going to be a recipe for success.

2.  All children are different - and so are all parents.

Therefore, what works for one child - or family - may not necessarily work for another. There are so many different methods, tips and hacks to read about out there and plenty of people willing to give you all sorts of advice, but you can't do it all.  Take what you consider to be the best tips and techniques, try them out, ditch the things that don't work for you or your child, try something new if you need to and find your own way.

3. Don't compare - find support

Again, everybody's different.  Each child develops at his or her own pace, has different reactions in different situations, has different strengths, preferences, dislikes and fears. There's absolutely no point in comparing your child to other children or in comparing yourself to other parents.  Instead, look to others for moral support and advice.  Reading about other parents' experiences of potty training can be helpful, especially if you find they are going through or have been through the same problems you're having.  They can probably give you some useful tips and even just getting a bit of support and encouragement is invaluable.

4. Be flexible - if something's not working, change it!  

Don't feel you have to stick to a particular technique or set of advice just because it worked for someone else.  Don't be afraid to change your approach and even do things you had decided not to do if you find you need to.
You don't have to stick to the plan if the plan's not working for you.

5. No pressure

Don't put too much pressure on yourself or your child to master potty training within a certain timescale.  A deadline is probably not very helpful in most cases. It's a process that takes time and there will probably be advances and setbacks along the way, but don't worry. Your child will be potty-trained sooner or later, and getting stressed isn't going to make it happen any faster.

You can read about how we started potty training in more detail in my Potty Training Diaries, starting here with Potty Training Diaries Days 1 & 2.

For further reading, have a look at my Potty Training board on Pinterest:



Cuddle Fairy

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Brilliant blog posts on


  1. I found this really interesting as we have started potty training with my eldest. I'll be stealing some tips! #triumphanttales

  2. These are fantastic tips. Thank you. We've just potty trained our little one, but they still wear pull ups at night because they drink SO much!!

  3. gosh i have no real memories of potting training 3 boys, but the youngest is 18 now, i'm sure there were lots of issues but i can't remember at what ages they were trained or even dry at night


  4. Im so nervous about potty training i know my son is only nearly 1 and is no where near ready to start but i dont want him to be one of those 4 year olds in nappies! its just not practical for nursery etc


    1. Don't worry about it! I haven't seen too many four year olds in nappies, so that's probably unlikely!

  5. Great tips, thanks! I'm currently training my second son and it's proving tricky, in completely different ways to my first son. You're right not to compare, I think patience is key. Although sometimes it feels like we'll never make any progress, I am oftentimes surprised by unexpected successes! #bloggerclubuk

    1. Right, there are times you feel like you're getting nowhere, then you have a breakthrough. It'll happen eventually, but meanwhile you need lots of patience. Good luck!

  6. This is a brilliant post. It's been a long time since I potty trained Zach and in fact he almost immediately went on the toilet! I've got it all to come with Oscar in a couple of years time! I'll do what I did then and wait until he's completely ready as it's so much easier! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  7. No pressure - all the way. I think a lot of parents put themselves under too much pressure with regards to this and every child is different. They will usually do it when they are ready. Great tips here though, I'm pleased it's gone well for you. Thanks for linking up to #TriumphantTales, hope you'll come back on Tuesday :)

  8. we are a long way off of potty training but i suppose there are similarities in weaning also. its all about taking their lead and knowing when theyre ready and having patience with them.
    Thank you for sharing Emma's Potty training experience with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back on Tuesday.

  9. I never knew there was so much involved! I'll be saving this for future reference!
    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time.

  10. These are great tips. Potty training my daughter was a nightmare but we got there eventually. #kcacols

  11. Such a good read, and really useful advice for parents thinking about potty training. The main thing to remember, I think, is that all children are different so what works for one might not work for another. I had 2 very different experiences with my 2 children! x #KCACOLS

  12. Peachy is almost 18 months old and although I don't think she's ready for potty training yet, it is something I've been giving some thought. I have never potty trained a human before and don't really know how to go about it. It's very helpful to read about other people's approach. Sorry for the late comment. #BloggerClubUK

  13. A great post and it's popped up at just the right time as we are 4 days into trying to lose the nappies.