I was considering calling this post How to potty train your kid in 2 days because on the surface that’s exactly what we did with Seb (and 5 for J), but honestly that would be a blatant lie.

Potty training doesn’t take 3 days or 5 days or 2 weeks, so don’t let anyone tell you it does.

It takes months.

But in the same breath, all those months you are not really doing anything. It’s the last few days which are the all-action is-it-a-poo-is-it-not-a-poo where-is-the-poo days. All the time before them is preparation.

So let’s start from the obvious question:

When to start potty training

Please bear in mind that I am no doctor or any kind of childcare professional. I am a mom of 2 boys and have been using the toilet fairly accurately for quite a few years myself – those are my only qualifications. But we have been through potty training a kid twice and there are a few things we learnt along the way.

The first thing is that there is no perfect age to potty train. Every child is different and none of them come with a manual. I especially think there is a difference between potty training boys and potty training girls but I only have experience with boys so I can’t actually say. Both of our boys seemed to show an interest in the potty and the toilet at about 2 1/2 years.

But this was a few months after the potty training really began.

potty training

How to start potty training

So how do you actually start potty training?

Again, this is just the story of how we potty trained our boys. They both went through pretty much the same process.

First, when J was about 2 we bought a potty and put it in his bathroom. That’s all we did. He saw it and asked about it and we let him press the music button incessantly and soon he didn’t notice it anymore.

We started mentioning to him that he could use the potty if he wanted to. We also encouraged him to wee outside (no judgies, please – boymom here), so after a while he would say he needed a wee and we would help him pull his pants and nappy down and wee in the garden.

Then, my genius mother-in-law bought him a poo pop-up book. Yes, you heard right! It’s a pop-up book all about poo. It stayed in the bathroom and we said it was there for him to read when he was on the potty.

Bear in mind that we’re a very open family, so it’s not uncommon for us to talk about bodily functions and we’re not shy about doing the same in front of the kids.

Anyway…when J got to 2 1/2, we bought him some undies. Very cool ones with dinosaurs and diggers, boxers just like his dad wears. We would put those on over his nappy every morning. At his play school at the same time they were taking them to the potty regularly throughout the day too.

When the September school holidays came, we decided it was time to get to the serious business. We decided it was time because

a) he was now telling us just after he had made a poo in his nappy

b) he was happily weeing in the garden or in the potty so he knew when he was about to wee

c) it was school holidays so we could stay at home

d) it was warm weather

Jeremy and Seb

How to potty train in 2 to 5 days

And this is where the 5-day magic comes in (or even 2-day magic like Seb).

Pick a few days when you don’t need to leave the house and the weather is warm. When they wake up, take all their clothes and nappy off. Put them in the garden/in front of the TV/ in the playroom/wherever and go about your day as normal.

Every twenty minutes to half an hour, ask them if they need to make a wee or a poo. If they say no, leave them. If they say yes, take them to the potty. Let them sit for a while and read their book on the potty to see if anything happens. If nothing happens, tell them to come back when they need to. If they wee or poo in the potty do some somersaults and high-fives and hand out fistfuls of jelly beans for good measure.

If they make a mistake and have an accident, don’t make a big deal of it. Clean it up and let them know that next time they should do that in the potty and they must call you if they need to go to the potty.

Hopefully over the course of the few days, you’ll notice your kid starting to tell you when they need to go to the potty, rather than you asking. And when they do, drop everything and RUN.

And that’s it.

Pop the champagne and start saving all the millions of pennies you would normally spend on nappies.

Two toddlers looking out of treehouse hatch

I must say, with Seb it was even easier but that was probably because he had been seeing J using the potty since he was born (they’re 16 months apart). He only needed 2 naked days in the garden and on Monday morning we asked him if he needed a nappy and he said no.

Nappies at bedtime

Bear in mind, this is all about potty training during the day. Seb is still wearing nappies at night and he regularly wets the bed (nappies and all). We asked J a few weeks after potty training if he was happy without a nappy at night and he was so he dropped nappies completely and only wet the bed once or twice.

With Seb, we’ll wait and see. He actually needs to be tall enough to open his bedroom door so he can go to the bathroom during the night and he’s just not there yet. Give us a few weeks and he probably will be.

Our fave potty training tips

  • Don’t believe anyone who says it takes a day or two
  • Start as soon as you can by talking about going to the toilet
  • Have a potty around from early on
  • Get a book
  • A rewards system can work really well
  • Don’t freak out when they shit on the couch

Disclaimer: There are loads of different ways to potty train. This way worked for our two boys. It doesn’t mean other methods are wrong or won’t work. You need to figure out what will work for your kid.

Let me know if you have any more questions! Or let me know how you managed to do it.