Keys to Successful Potty Training

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Keys to Successful Potty Training

Mercy Family Birth Center - Successful Potty Training

There’s a book out there you’ve likely heard about: “Everyone Poops,” by Taro Gomi. The premise is that if you eat, you must poop.

It’s hardly a coffee-table book. But many over the years have used it as comic relief (pun intended) surrounding the emotionally charged topic of potty training.

Helping you and your child become at ease with the idea of potty training is as important as the process itself. And, as every parent knows — or will know — whatever works for you and your child …. GREAT. But what works for one parent/child team might not work for anybody else, or even on your next child.

There are as many potty training tips out there as there are tots. Here’s a quick-start guide to getting ready for the major milestone.


Before the official toilet training process begins, start the conversation. “Explain the bathroom routine in positive, child-friendly terms,” says Parents magazine contributor Ari Brown, M.D. “During a diaper change, you can say, ‘When we eat or drink, our body takes what it needs and then the rest gets turned into pee or poop. It’s like our body’s garbage.'”

Those very words to describe the process of elimination are, in fact, necessary to successfully potty training your child.


According to, a general rule of thumb is that children may begin potty training around 18 months of age. Others may not be ready until they are 3 or 4 years old. And a child with special needs could have an even more-varied window of readiness.

But it’s crucial to let your child set the pace on this one, according to And children will exhibit an assortment of physical, behavioral and cognitive signs of readiness, including:

  • having dry periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows that bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine
  • having the ability to pull his or her pants up and down as well as sit for at least two minutes at a time
  • talks of big boys and big girls, and underpants

It’s your job to know and read up on these and other signs, then act accordingly.

Meantime, what seems to be a universal truth: If your child’s answer to most things these days is, “No!” the timing is not right for potty training your child.


There are “tried-and-true” techniques, testimonials, research papers and books to reference. But each child really is unique, and so will be their path to successful toilet training.

No matter if other areas of development seem advanced, your tot will ultimately be in control of his or her own schedule (not surprising!). That includes individualized time frames and durations of completion, which are at risk of being adjusted/reset due to a variety of factors, including changes in family dynamics, moving, etc.

No matter the technique you utilize, if you reward M&M’s or a sticker chart, the physician you consult with or the other mothers you share with, you will be traveling unchartered territory each time you potty train a child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests parents simply try to avoid setting unrealistic expectations for the process of potty training so they can ultimately enjoy this right of passage (again, pun intended) with their little ones.

1 Comment

  1. Emilia says:

    I have been very successful with my 26 month old girl wanting to and using the potty. She discovered a close friend of hers was suddenly using the potty and that was her insentive. Our only catch is that she will still wet her pants or undies when we put those on. We did the naked potty train approach, and when she is nude she has no problem making it to the bathroom on time every time, yet when we put her in undies it seems like she forgets, what gives? I am stumped as to what to do, I can’t cart her around in public nude. Any one else have this problem? Any Ideas, tips, tricks to help her?

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