Your Complete Potty Training Guide

Potty Success is a Victory for the Whole Family

3 Keys to Diaper-Free Nights

Most kids don't stay dry through the night until around six months after they've mastered daytime potty use, says Jan Faull, author of Mommy I Have to Go Potty!: A Parent's Guide to Toilet Training. These tips will help your tot get there.

  1. Limit liquids after 6 p.m., but don't feel you have to ban them altogether, says Faull. "If your child is thirsty, definitely go ahead and give her a small drink," she advises.
  2. Put your child in disposable underpants at night, and encourage her to pee right before bedtime. Make a deal: If she's dry for five nights, she'll get a treat (a sticker or toy). "But never take rewards away after an accident," warns Faull. After five dry nights in a row, try cotton undies.
  3. When he switches to "big-kid' underpants, be prepared for accidents. Buy extra waterproof mattress pads for quick cleanups. "Make it easy on yourself," says Faull. "If you're doing laundry at 3 a.m., you'll get frustrated"—and that's counterproductive.

7 Times Not to Teach

Stress and potty practice don't mix. Don't try to train during these tumultuous transitions.

  • He's a week away from his first day at a no-diapers preschool.
  • She's weaning from the breast or bottle.
  • He's giving up a pacifier habit.
  • Your family is in the midst of a move.
  • Your marriage is splitting up.
  • She's starting or returning to day care.
  • A brand-new sibling is expected or has just arrived.

9 Top Tricks From Moms Who've Been There

Do the potty dance! We play Madonna's "Holiday" and boogie around the living room after my daughter poops. Just the prospect of a dance makes her want to use the potty.
Marnie Aulabaugh
Los Angeles, Calif.

Have your daughter wear dresses for potty training. It's easier for her to make quick decisions about the perfect potty moment.
Traci Cole
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Squirt blue food coloring into the toilet. When your kid pees—surprise!—the water turns green.
Robyn Brown Samra
Leonia, N.J.

Put her in cotton underpants, even if they get wet or dirty sometimes. That mild discomfort will make her eager to use the potty.
Remi Adams
Oakland, Calif.

Try the "naked bum" technique. Remove diapers (and any other clothes from the waist down) while you're home. Have the potty ready for action. This helped my kids learn fast.
Crystal Dube
Sudbury, Ont., Canada

Tackle potty training in the summer. He'll have fewer items of clothing to take off when it's toilet time.
Julie Van Byssum
Tinley Park, Ill.

Reward her with lots of praise, and try not to get upset when she has an accident. Staying positive is absolutely key!
Judith Loeb Whitaker
Glendale, Calif.

Don't force the issue—just wait until your child is ready. I held off until my son was 3, and he potty trained almost instantly.
Cindy Goldstein
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Throw a few Cheerios into the toilet bowl for target practice to help boys learn to pee standing. My son played "sink the ship" with the cereal, and it made the whole experience more fun.
Sue MacDonald
Cincinnati, Ohio

6 Reasons Potty Success Is a Victory for the Whole Family

  • You'll save roughly $800 a year by not buying any more disposable diapers.
  • You'll regain time you used to spend changing diapers—an extra 3 1/2 hours each week.
  • You get to shop for cute underwear.
  • You can trade in your bulky diaper bag for an adorable clutch.
  • You'll aid the environment by no longer sending dirty disposables to landfills.
  • Your house will smell like potpourri, not poop-pourri!

Copyright© 2005. Reprinted with permission from the June 2005 issue of Parents magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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