Potty Training 101: Techniques, Tricks and Tips

by Della H. Harris

Toilet TrainingAre you and your child ready for potty training. You might find one of these methods the perfect fit for you both. Don't worry, diapers won't last forever!

Methods like elimination communication and parent-directed toilet training depend on parents noticing signs and helping the baby or child use the potty.

Some methods wait for signs that a child's ready and then hone in on skills with techniques that speed up the transition from diapers. Other methods rely on child-initiated trial-and-error.

All the methods include and use praise and affection as motivators. Each step helps parents and kids move through this important and sometimes challenging milestone.

Five Popular Toilet Training Techniques

Infant Potty Training

Elimination communication is based on concept that infants can communicate their need to "go," just as they communicate hunger or sleepiness. Caregivers observe the baby for signs that he or she needs to "go potty" and give the option of using a potty instead of a diaper.

• Limited use of diapers
• Prevents diaper rash
• Promotes parent-child bonding
• Allows the child to toilet train before age 2 or 3
• Environmentally friendly

• Time consuming
• Can be frustrating early on
• Daycare center might not support method

• Focus on the "pees and poops" that you catch, not on the misses.
• Try first thing in the morning and after naps.
• Offer a "pee or poop" break after feeding.
• Remember to communicate. Say things like, "I think you might need to potty. Let's go to the bathroom to see if you want to pee into the toilet."

Parent-Directed Toilet Training

The parent watches for signs that the child's ready to begin toilet training. Steps might include talking about pee, poop and potties, sitting on the toilet, going in the toilet and gradually transitioning from diapers to "big kid" underwear.

• Fits into a busy schedule easily
• Limited amount of accidents

• Parent initiates going to the potty
• Keeping a toddler sitting still for minutes

• Wait until your toddler is 18 to 24 months and shows signs of readiness.
• Fill them up! Provide an unlimited amount of beverages and every 15 or 20 minutes, take them to the potty.
• Offer positive reinforcement.

Child-Led Toilet Training

The child is the one in control. Toilet training is treated as a developmental milestone in your child's life. Your task as a parent is to introduce the potty and all the related tasks to your child. When the child's ready, they'll decide to use the potty and "train" themselves.

• Training itself usually happens quickly
• Takes little preparation

• Children train later
• Can be expensive
• Preschools might reject a child not toilet trained

• Shop together for favorite underwear
• Offer reminders about the method
• Let your child watch you empty poop from diaper to toilet and encourage him or her to wash hands.

Train in a Day

This method has the parent show the child how and why you go potty using a training doll. The parent feeds the doll water, then has the doll "go potty" over a potty chair. Then the child teaches the doll how to go potty. An accident is corrected with a practice run. Once child and doll are clear on the "zen of potty," you and your child train, with positive reinforcement.

• It's quick
• Designed for children with special needs

• Takes planning and preparation
• Requires follow-up
• Parents either love or hate the method

• Being well-prepared and comfortable is the key
• Eliminate all distractions, even siblings
• Push drinking liquids so your child needs to go every few minutes

Naked Training Method

With no diapers, pull-ups or underpants to stand in the way, your child is ready at all times for nature's call. Spend a weekend or two diaper-free. Some kids quickly get the idea.

• Simplifies training for the child
• Great for the summer
• No planning or expense

• It's messy
• Child can be confused about pottying when wearing clothes

• Bring the potty outside -- there's less mess and you'll be more relaxed
• If your child has trouble making it to the bathroom, bring the potty chair nearer to the play area

Is your toddler ready to train or already in "big kid" clothes? What's working for you? Share your tips and tricks with us!