How-To Toddler Parenting

The Ultimate Guide to Potty Training Your 2 Year Old

Ultimate Guide to Potty Training Your 2 Year Old

Potty Training. The two dreaded words of toddler parents everywhere.

While every stage thus far in Harper’s life has come with it’s own unique set of challenges (breastfeeding, sleep training, teething, you name it), potty training has for sure brought ALL.THE.CHALLENGES. Anything that comes after this? Bring it. I have potty trained and therefore, I can do anything.

On a less dramatic note, one of the main reasons I started this blog was to share with other new moms all the things I had learned (the hard way), with the hope of saving others some of the stress that comes along with figuring it all out. Since the day we started this potty training endeavor I have been sort of writing this post in my head, thinking about all the things I wanted to share. So here it is: Potty Training from A-Z. All the things Google just didn’t have answers for. Everything I learned and some things I wish I didn’t have to learn. You get it.

The Ultimate Guide to Potty Training Your 2 Year Old

So here’s the thing. The potty training really starts before you begin the actual act of potty training. Wait, what? Yes, I realize what I said. As with all new things, it’s so important to talk about it, set the scene, explain why, visualize, etc. before just jumping into it. You can’t expect to go from diapers to undies overnight without preparing your toddler for this huge change.

About a month before we started potty training in earnest, we got a potty seat for our toilet and a little step stool. But way before we even got the seat Harper was showing interest in the potty and understood what it meant to use the bathroom (any parent knows it’s impossible to go to the bathroom solo). So when she was just shy of turning two we realized it was time.

So here’s how we did it…

Step 1: Get a potty seat insert, a little potty, and a step stool.

Step 2: Switch to pull-ups for naptime and bedtime. Trust me. When you are trying to get your toddler adapted to using the potty, you want to be able to pull their diaper on and off as easily as possible. For example: right before naptime and bedtime you’ll want to have them use the potty. Much easier to take off a pull-up, then a diaper.

Step 3: Establish a routine to help them get used to using the potty. For us, that meant having Harper use the potty before and after mealtimes and before we left the house. We did this for a few weeks before we went into full potty training mode. I realize that this doesn’t work for everyone, and that some people don’t start until they start, if that makes sense. But do what works best for your toddler. Make sure they know that potty training is not a game. If you decide to bring out the potty seat for a little before you get started, make sure they know it’s not a toy. It’s for pee and poop only.

Step 4: If at first you don’t succeed, (cry, donuts, wine? cry) try again. We opted to try the 3 Day Potty Training Method and I made the mistake of trying to do it on my own while my husband was at work. WORST MISTAKE. Turns out potty training is an all-hands-on-deck kind of thing. Definitely not a one-woman-kind-of-job (I was also like 34 weeks pregnant at the time, so I wasn’t exactly “with the quickness”).

So after I realized it just wasn’t working, we put it on the back-burner for a few weeks until my husband had some time off and we could try it again. If you have a “false start” and need to try again, most books recommend waiting 2-4 weeks. Any less it’s too soon and any more they might become too attached to their diapers.

Step 5: Try again! If you also opt to try the 3 Day Method you’ll want to put away any and all diapers (except for nap and bedtime). It’s best if they don’t see diapers near their changing table. It’s big kid time! Have your toddler wear nothing but a shirt (or naked if they’re fine with it), and take them to the potty when you notice they are doing their pee-pee dance. Every kid has one. This requires you to watch them like a hawk.

Be sure to prompt them to use the potty. Never ask if they have to go. Remind them to go with simple phrases such as “It’s been a while since you’ve used the potty, let’s take a potty break. Mommy has to go, too” Or “Let’s pick up these toys, use the potty, and then get a snack.”

Yes, you will want to go crazy.

Yes, you will question if it’s actually working.

Yes, you will want to give up.

But don’t! By day 3 you’ll be surprised how much they’ve learned!

Everything you need to know to get your 2 year old potty trained! Practical tips and potty training advice from a mom whose been there. This post will tell you exactly what you need to do to get the job done!

You’ll also want to have the following items handy:

  • All Purpose Antibacterial Spray and Paper Towels (because there will be accidents everywhere)
  • Waterproof sheet protectors to protect the couch, booster seat, car seat, etc. from accidents.
  • Toddler Underwear. Harper loves Minnie Mouse so we ordered these from Amazon to help get her excited about this new change.
  • 2 Piece Outfits and Pajamas. While onesies and jumpers are adorable – they do not make for good potty training clothes. Once you’re finished with the initial 3 day (pants-free) training, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for them to use the potty.

So you’ve done the whole 3 day or 1 week or whatever kind of potty training method. How do you know if it actually worked?

About a month later Harper doesn’t always tell us if she has to go, we are just super vigilant and look for signals (like doing the pee-pee dance). However, as time goes on, she has started to tell us more and more. We have also begun to ease up on how often we take her to the potty and we’ve started to rely more on her letting us know she has to go.

Important Takeaways:

  • At first, don’t rely on your toddler telling you they have to go – and if you ask? Expect the answer to be “no”. For the first few weeks after potty training, take them to bathroom consistently (after they wake up, before mealtimes, before you leave the house, when you get where you’re going, etc.). And be sure to let them know where the potty is wherever you go.
  • Know that accidents will still happen – it doesn’t mean that the training didn’t work. Like anything, it will take time for them to get used to this change. There are so many factors that can cause accidents like being overtired, being in a new place, playing outside, etc.
  • For most toddlers, potty training for # 1 and potty training for # 2 are two entirely different things. From what I’ve learned from reading and talking to other moms, this is totally normal. The most important thing I learned is to not panic, the poop will come. My best BEST advice is to read Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki. No exaggeration, this book changed my life.

Have any potty training wisdom to share? Comment below with your best tips!

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. I never recommend or link to products that I don’t love and use myself!

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  • Reply
    The Domestic Musician
    July 10, 2017 at 10:43 AM

    I JUST started potty training my 3rd boy who is 2. These are all such great suggestions. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Reply
      Marla
      July 10, 2017 at 1:58 PM

      Thanks for reading – and good luck!

  • Reply
    Jenn
    July 10, 2017 at 10:51 AM

    Great post! Potty training my son was so much harder than my girls!

    • Reply
      Marla
      July 10, 2017 at 1:57 PM

      I’ve heard that it’s harder with boys – we had a tough time as it was – can’t imagine it being even harder!

  • Reply
    Belle
    July 10, 2017 at 1:31 PM

    Such a great post! We potty trained my daughter twice. The first time we failed; the second time she got it after 3 days. Removing the diapers really helped!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

    • Reply
      Marla
      July 10, 2017 at 1:56 PM

      It definitely did for us! It’s always good to hear that other parents had to try it twice!

  • Reply
    babiestobookworms
    July 10, 2017 at 2:44 PM

    This is really helpful! We have been working towards potty training my daughter and this will come in handy!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    July 10, 2017 at 5:00 PM

    Great tips! I’ve been through this x5 and every child is different.

    • Reply
      Marla
      July 10, 2017 at 8:00 PM

      Thank you! Potty training just 1 was a lot and I’m kind of dreading round 2 with our second. Can’t imagine 5 times!

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Christ-Centered Mama
    July 11, 2017 at 12:59 AM

    Great tips! I have a 21-month-old and am looking down that tunnel soon. Saved to my pinterest.

    • Reply
      Marla
      July 11, 2017 at 2:49 PM

      Thanks! Hope you find these tips useful!

  • Reply
    Mal
    July 11, 2017 at 4:42 AM

    I am on the verge of potty training my 16 month old and I am terrified… especially because we have a 3month old as well!! But our toddler keeps taking his poop diaper off!!! Haha these are get tips, thank you!! I’m sure they will be a great help!!

    • Reply
      Marla
      July 11, 2017 at 2:51 PM

      I hope so! From what I’ve read that’s definitely one of the signs they are ready! 🙂

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