Potty training can be a confusing task but it’s a combination of understanding what works and having your own way of achieving the goal.

When I started out I kept asking moms who had done it – tell me how to go about it, what steps did you follow, did you follow any steps? And I would get different answers. Some I could follow, some I could not.

But here is my trial and error process  (I can only  hope it’s  more trial and not so much error !)

Check for readiness – Wakes up from Naps Dry, No Major life Changes, Moves, New Sibling etc.

We started the process of potty training at around 27 months when S started showing interest because her friends at day care were starting to use the potty.I did not want to start any earlier than that because we had just moved and it was a new place and a new day care. I did not want to add to her stress by adding potty training to the mix – as recommended by articles I had read on the topic! Also, one more sign the articles said was that they wake up from naps dry. This I don’t think I really formally checked.

Involve the child in buying colorful underpants

Anyway, initially I started with a few hours over the weekend without diapers. We had gone shopping together for colorful underpants and S loved to wear them like a big kid.

Get Started

There would be accidents and she would not stay on the potty long enough. The rule was we would sit on the potty and read this book. And then she could go and run around. And she would get a sticker if she followed through! And then back to diapers. In the meanwhile, she was getting the idea by watching her friends at day care as well, since her teachers had told me she tags along with them to the potty and even sometimes sits there for a bit. I had told her to encourage this.  After a couple of months of no luck, one day we hit the jackpot. Peed in the potty. That was enough to set the idea in her mind.

Make a Big Deal

My friend had advised me to make a really huge deal about this – lot of clapping and appreciation and of course some reward. S and I decided Dora stickers would be her reward. And I followed this and S was initially not very eager to please. But soon she got the idea when one or two stickers came her way for something so simple. (Though I have to admit the 2+ months of waiting was the difficult part for me!) She always got lots of appreciation the first few times, till it became a routine.

Try the Potty Rings

I had also taken into account another friend’s advice that we should go with the potty ring that fit into the adult potty , rather than get those stand -alone ones, which are not so fun to clean! S got to pick hers and she picked a Dora potty ring ( We have now graduated to a princess one of course! )

The day care insisted that S still wear pull-ups when she came there, which was not great incentive to actually wean her away from diapers. The opportunity came when we visited India for 2 months. No diapers here, we had toted along our Dora potty ring. A few accidents and near misses later, S got the idea that she was not going to go back into diapers and accidents just made her uncomfortable.

Don’t Show Your Annoyance over accidents, Clean up calmly

Show confidence in them that they can do it.

Another tip from a mom that I followed – don’t get annoyed over an accident, don’t scold the child. They get more anxious to please and it just adds to their stress. If there is an accident, just clean up calmly and repeat that next time they should use the potty. Show confidence in them that they can do it.

Offer Incentives

S also got another new incentive to use the potty – if she used the potty she could go to a big kid swimming class. That trick totally worked. So incentives work!

Night Time Training

Now for night time training – I did nothing special here. 2 nights in a row, I simply forgot to put diapers on her and she woke up dry. That’s it. So I have no process to report here.

Involve the father

One more tip I got and I followed – Even if you are the primary person who does the potty training, involve the father. He should get to take the kid to the potty and clean up , otherwise it sets up a situation wherein the child might get constipated because you weren’t there for a day. They should trust you and your spouse equally to help them.

 It is awesome how every milestone of my daughter has been something she has figured out all by herself. As a parent, I have worried and been anxious, as if I had everything to do with her reaching the milestone. That I have realized is just silly! Kids are so amazing, they just figure it out!

Summarized pointers from the rambling above:

  1. Start when child is ready – no big life changes or moves.
  2. See that she shows interest in potty training when watching other older kids or siblings.
  3. Start slow, it may be a long haul.
  4. Let the child choose her big kid underpants and her potty
  5. Appreciate success with gusto, give a reward
  6. Offer any other incentives
  7. Don’t get impatient about accidents, show confidence in the child
  8. Involve the father – very important to less stressful training
  9. Good Luck!


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  1. Uma

    Amazing article .My first son is 32 months already . I am starting now only . The same thing due to lot of changes we shifted two cities , he had a little bro for him in between and now he has settled in his day care . Nice tips . just completed the shopping part and trying to give small cars as incentive …will update … Wanted to know about night time- have you go her out of diaper . as of now he gets up at 4 am everyday …am still kept him on diaper though for the night …

    1. Preethi Chandrasekar

      Good luck ! Yes, S is out of diapers for the night as well. Initially i did have her diapers, though when she found the freedom of no diapers she did not want to wear it at night. But I would insist and it was a nightly battle. Till one day i gave up and let her be, there were no accidents and she seemed to have figured it out. But this was only a couple of months of accident free days later.

  2. R's Mom

    This potty training is a very difficult thing. In my case, I was lucky that my MIL and daycare managed to train R. But R still has accidents in the night at times when she is lazy to go to the loo before sleeping! and I am too lazy to wake her up in the night 🙁

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