Inside: Learn everything you need to know to potty train your 2 year old (girl or boy). From getting started to troubleshooting, plus best potty training products, and everything in between – we’ve got you covered.
The two dreaded words of toddler parents everywhere.
Although truthfully, for me, “sleep regression” tops the list of two-most-dreaded-words 🙂
While every stage in your child’s life so far has come with it’s own unique set of challenges (breastfeeding, sleep training, teething, you name it), potty training just screams: ALL.THE.CHALLENGES.
Anything that comes after this? Bring it. You have potty trained and therefore, you can do anything.
Please note: if you are looking to potty train before 2 (anywhere between 18-24 months) then here is the right post for you —> Everything You Need to Know to Potty Train Before 2
How do I know if my toddler is ready to potty train?
This is the million dollar question, isn’t it?
And the answer, surprisingly, is not what most people think. Most toddlers are ready to potty train much earlier than parents realize.
Most toddlers can be potty trained before two years old. However, if you’ve already passed this stage, anywhere between 24-30 months is a great time to start.
It used to be believed that 3 was the best age to potty train. There is not a thing I would rather do LESS than try and potty train a 3 year old. Trust me on this.
If you sit around waiting for readiness signs, you may never see them. And therefore, may miss your opportune potty training window.
If you do need concrete readiness signs, these are the most common:
- Interest in the toilet
- Desire to sit on the toilet
- Taking off diaper after peeing
- Asking to be changed after peeing
- Hiding (in pantry, behind sofa) to poop
Please remember, even if your toddler has not demonstrated these common readiness signs, you can still potty train.
Related: 2 Year Old Not Listening? Try This.
What happens if I start potty training and it’s a total fail?
That’s okay. If it’s clear that after 2-3 days things just aren’t clicking, press the reset button.
Go back to diapering as usual and wait at least 2 weeks before starting again. It’s important to only hit this “reset button” once or twice. Any more than that and it will become clear to your toddler that potty training isn’t “serious” or something they really have to do.
Is there any special equipment I need for potty training?
Yes! You’ll want to have a few basic things on hand to make sure potty training is a success.
- A little potty – this is the MOST important thing. I used this potty for both of my girls.
- All Purpose Antibacterial Spray and Paper Towels (because there will be accidents everywhere)
- Waterproof sheet protectors to protect the couch, booster seat, car, etc. from accidents.
- Toddler Underwear: Once your toddler is ready for that stage, you’ll want to have undies on hand.
- 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 “naked” training, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for them to use the potty.
The Ultimate Guide to Potty Training Your 2 Year Old
The question I hear most often is this:
How long does it take to potty train?
Most parents want a concrete answer. Such as: It takes 3 days or 1 week. As you may have already guessed, all kids are different. Potty training is not a “one-size-fits-all” experience.
In her life-changing book, Oh Crap! Potty Training, Jamie Glowacki shares what the natural progression of potty training should look like:
Clueless → I Peed → I’m Peeing → I Have to Go Pee
Your two year old should progress through these steps – that is how you will know they are making progress. How long does each step take? In general, each step could take anywhere from a few days to a week.
If you just can’t seem to get past the “clueless” stage, that’s how you know it’s time to stop and hit the “reset button.”
Wait…but what about nighttime training?!
To be certain, we are only talking about “daytime” potty training in this post. If you choose to nighttime and/or naptime train, that is up to you. Nighttime training is a whole other ballgame. Some choose to do everything at once and remove all the diapers entirely.
Here’s why I chose not to: Sleep is SO important. This is when kids work through everything they’ve learned. Potty training isn’t just exhausting for you, it’s mentally exhausting for your toddler.
You may notice that your toddler has more night-wakings during potty training. This could be due to the fact that they are more aware of the sensation of having to pee. This is actually a good thing.
How to Get Started:
- Pick a start day. Ideally this is a time when you know you can commit to being home for a couple of days.
- Get the gear. See above
- Set up for success. Ditch any complicated onesies, jumpers or rompers. Switch to 2-Piece PJs. For girls: dresses, skirts or elastic-waist shorts. For boys: drawstring pants or elastic-waist shorts.
- Diaper Duty. I recommend storing all the diapers in your toddler’s dresser drawer (for use at naptime and nighttime) – rather than on display in a diaper caddy.
Here is the basic breakdown of Potty Training Steps:
- Peeing and pooping in the potty with no bottoms on (no pants, shorts, or undies)
- Peeing and pooping in the potty with bottoms on (pants or shorts, but no undies aka commando)
- Peeing and pooping in the potty with bottoms and undies (aka like a grown up)
Word of caution: Do not, I repeat DO NOT put undies on a toddler, boy or girl, who will not poop in the potty or who hasn’t figured out how to poop in the potty yet. Underwear easily mimics a diaper and the second you put underwear on them, you can bet they’ll poop in it.
Potty Training Step-by-Step Daily Routine
- Remove night diaper and PJ pants.
- Sit on little potty to pee. Toddler wears only a top while at home.
- Throughout the morning look for potty cues (wiggling, clenching, holding self, etc.)
- As soon as you see one of these clues, pick up toddler and put them on the potty. Do not wait for them to tell you. It may take a few accidents before you realize what their signal is.
- You can try to make them pee every 15-20 minutes but it’s actually best to wait until you see a cue (AKA they really have to go) that way they can make the connection between the feeling of having to pee and actually peeing in the potty.
There will be accidents throughout the day, and that’s okay. Watch them like a hawk. The second you check your phone, there will be an accident.
- Have toddler pee in little potty.
- Put on nap diaper and 2-piece PJs.
- Remove nap diaper and PJ pants.
- Sit on little potty to pee. Toddler wears top, but no bottoms.
- The rest of the afternoon should be just like the morning.
- Play as usual, monitor their cues and signals and have them sit on the potty when necessary.
- Follow your usual bedtime routine. Here’s where 2-Piece PJs come in handy.
- Have your toddler wear just their top while following their bedtime routine: brushing teeth, reading stories, etc.
- Right before you’re ready to lay them down, have them pee in the potty.
- Then put on their night diaper and PJ pants. The goal is to wait until the last moment to put a diaper on.
The next day, start all over again!
Progress looks like less accidents and more pee in the potty. It’s your call when to add pants or shorts to the mix. I did naked on bottom for about a week before adding shorts (with no undies).
- 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.
- If your toddler won’t poop in the potty, this resource will help guide you.
Have any potty training wisdom to share? Comment below with your best tips!
Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. You can read our full disclosure policy, here.