Thinking about potty training your toddler but overwhelmed with all the different potty training methods? I get it. The whole teaching a human how to use a toilet thing is stress-inducing. Let’s take a deep breath and focus on one method right now: 3-day potty training.
You may be thinking, “Potty training in three days? Does it really work?” The short answer is yes. The longer answer is it depends. If you’re interested in a casual, positive-centered potty training method, then keep reading.
What is 3-Day Potty Training?
This is a method to potty train your child over the course of three days. Your child will go diaper- and pants-free during this time as he gets comfortable using the potty regularly.
The barrier-free approach hopefully allows your child to recognize their bodily cues more easily. Of course, there will be accidents. But the idea is that your child will learn more quickly that pee goes in the potty rather than on the floor because they can see it. In pull-ups or diapers, pee is absorbed, and for toddlers, if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.
Ideally, you and your toddler should stay home as much as possible during this three-day period. This way, he can stay bare-bottomed the entire time and use the potty as frequently as he needs for success.
How to Do the 3 Day Potty Training Method
Stay home as much as possible during the three days. For optimum success, plan to clear your schedule and spend a quiet three days at home to encourage your toddler.
You have to be vigilant—a little bit of hovering is necessary to minimize accidents and teach your child to listen to his body cues.
Prior to starting the 3-day potty-training method, you can prepare your child by talking about the potty and drumming up excitement. Some kids need a bit more warning before a big transition.
- As soon as your child wakes up, take off his pants and diaper or pull-up and keep him naked from the waist down. Explain that he doesn’t need diapers anymore. Pee goes in the potty! And then, have him sit on the potty first thing to encourage him to pee.
- Throughout the day, watch for signs your child has to go, like squirming or squatting. As you notice these signs or if he starts to go, calmly carry him to the potty and say, “Pee goes in the potty.” Reinforce any successes with praise or rewards like stickers or small toys.
- Expect accidents. If your child has an accident, remain calm. Do not yell or shame your child. Simply remind them that pee or poop goes in the potty and clean up the mess—or have him help you clean it.
- Continue this process throughout the day, offering more liquids than normal to encourage more frequent potty usage.
- Take your child to the potty just before nap time. You can choose to put a pull-up or diaper on him for the nap or let him remain barrier-free.
- At bedtime, do the same. Encourage him to go potty one more time before bed. Nighttime potty training usually comes much later (sometimes, not until age 7), you may want to put your toddler in a pull-up or diaper overnight.
- Repeat the process from the previous day. Stop activities frequently to encourage potty usage. Some parents like to use timers as a visual or auditory reminder for their child to check in with his body. Continue to praise and reward your child any time he successfully goes on the potty. If accidents occur today, remember to keep things positive and never shame your child.
- Encourage a trip to the potty before naptime, bathtime, and bedtime. Use a pull-up or diaper overnight.
- Repeat the same steps from the first two days.
- If you need to go out at any point, dress your toddler in loose-fitting clothes. Remind him that if he needs to pee, he needs to let you know and you’ll go into the potty with him.
- Your child has likely started to tune into his bodily cues. You may have even had a few unprompted potty successes!
Continue to praise and reward your child any time he successfully goes on the potty. If accidents occur today, remember to keep things positive and never shame your child.
Tips for 3 Day Potty Training Success
No potty method is foolproof, but there are certain things you can do to set your child up for success.
Note: If you’re potty training a boy, teach him to go sitting down first. Then once he’s got the hang of things, he can try standing.
Pick a Good Potty
There are tons of training potty options on the market and it can be overwhelming to choose. Some parents find it best to use a potty training seat that fits on the regular toilet. Others prefer a potty chair that sits on the floor.
After you decide which type of potty is best for your child, have him weigh in the the final decision. Letting kids choose their own potty gives them a feeling of control in what can be a tough transition. It also gets them excited to try it out.
Some parents find it helpful to have multiple potty chairs or seats around the house. This way, a potty is close at hand whenever your child needs to go. Check out this article for some of our favorite potties.
Use a Visual Aid
Model for your child. If you’re comfortable, bring your child into the bathroom with you when you have to go to show him what a successful trip to the potty looks like.
Get a potty-training doll. Modeling may not be your thing, and that’s okay! Sometimes, a different visual can be motivating for your toddler. Baby dolls like this one are designed to assist potty training children.
Read books or watch a show. It can be helpful to watch a potty training episode of your child’s favorite show. Daniel Tiger, Sesame Street, and Peppa Pig all have great episodes about potty training. Additionally, there are so many great potty training books available. My son loved Potty Time with Elmo because he got to press the buttons while we read the story!
Motivate with Peer Pressure
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, some children benefit from positive peer pressure while potty training. Kids always want to do what their friends or older siblings are doing. A gentle reminder from parents that “Johnny goes pee on the potty” might be the kickstarter to get your child motivated.
I used this method with my son, and it really did work! When our neighbor, who’s several months older than my son, was potty training, I mentioned how his friend got to wear big boy underwear. That piqued his interest enough to get started.
Buy Some Big Kid Underwear
Cool undies can be a big motivator, too. While potty training my son, we read the really cute (and hilarious) book called Vegetables in Underwear which talks about all different kinds of underwear.
Then, I took him to the store to pick out his very own big kid underwear for when he started going in the potty all the time. Just like picking out the potty, choosing their own underwear gets kids excited about the process.
Training underwear is a great investment when you’re just starting out. They’re slightly thicker than regular underwear and include an extra absorbent barrier in the crotch area. But they’re great for transitioning from diapers or pull-ups to underwear.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my child is ready for potty training?
Rather than looking at a child’s age, you want to look at certain signs and behaviors that point to potty training readiness. If your child goes longer between diaper changes he might be ready for potty training. This is a sign that he can control his bladder. Similarly, he might be ready for the potty if he can communicate that he needs a diaper change. If your child pees/poops on a schedule, this may help you time things right.
Does the 3 day potty training method work?
Potty training can be tough, but you’ve got this, mama! Follow your child’s cues and stay calm when accidents arise. If you keep things calm and casual, 3 day potty training will be an awesome bonding experience for you and your little one. And if it doesn’t happen in three days, it’s okay! Your child will be potty trained one day. We all figure it out eventually!
The Bottom Line
Potty training can be tough, but you’ve got this, Mama! Follow your child’s cues and stay calm when accidents arise. If you keep things calm and casual, 3-day potty training will be an awesome bonding experience for you and your little one. And if it doesn’t happen in three days, it’s okay! Your child will be potty trained one day. We all figure it out eventually!