Potty Training Tips & Tricks That Will Save Your Sanity

For your convenience, I’ve included a couple affiliate links to some awesome things that will help you keep your sanity! My full disclosure is here.

Every parent has their Kryptonite — that one major struggle you face in parenting that tests every ounce of your patience and brings out the worst in you.

After potty training both of my kids (one boy and one girl) I've developed a list of tips and must haves for potty training that have literally saved my sanity. These tips and key items will help make potty training easier, no matter what potty training method you use. This is a must-read before you start potty training! Great list of helpful tips to make the transition much easier.

For some parents it’s getting their baby to eat.  For others it’s figuring out how to get their kids to sleep.   Or take a nap for longer than 20 minutes.

My parenting Kryptonite is potty training.

Potty training is not easy.  If I can be totally honest with you, some of my ugliest moments as a mother have come out of potty training struggles.

After potty training both of my kids (one boy and one girl) I’ve developed a list of tips and must haves for potty training that have literally saved my sanity.  These tips and key items will help make potty training easier, no matter what potty training method you use.

This is a must-read for parents about to potty train! Potty training tips and tricks that will save your sanity.

*This post contains affiliate links.  See my full disclosure here.

Potty Training Tips & Tricks That Will Save Your Sanity

A Good Attitude Is Like Gold

Before you get started, remember this:  one day they will be potty trained.  Your child will not go to high school in diapers.  Take the pressure off yourself and enjoy the little victories along the way, even if they come among lots of setbacks.  A good attitude and outlook will be contagious.  So will a bad attitude (trust me I learned this the hard way!)

Potty Training Equipment

Let me introduce you to the best *potty seat ever.   

The best potty seat ever.

This potty seat is worth EVERY PENNY.  It’s a normal toilet seat with a little potty training seat built in!  A heavy duty magnet keeps the little potty seat attached to the cover so it won’t get in the way of adults.  It also comes with a slow close feature, so there will be no slamming lids!  Since you don’t have to take it on and off the toilet for each use, it keeps your hands clean.  That makes this germophobe happy! 

Boys may need a step stool to use a regular toilet.  We use this step stool and love it.  One side of it is curved so it fits perfectly right up against the toilet.

This step stool great for potty training boys!

Small Rewards Go A Long Way

For each successful pee or poop in the potty, give your child a small reward to encourage them and make it fun.  My main reward of choice is M&Ms.  I give one for going in the potty and another if they kept their underwear dry.  That way my child has an incentive to do both!  Offer a variety of small rewards to keep it fun.

Reward Ideas:

  • One or two M&Ms for a successful potty trip
  • Two or three M&Ms for a (ahem) successful defecation in the potty
  • Dum Dums suckers (I love these because they’re only 20 calories per pop and they don’t have a lot of sugar)
  • Stickers
  • Pick one item from a prize box filled with goodies from the Dollar Store
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Jelly beans
  • Coins

Celebrate the success,  no matter how small.  This will keep it fun for both you and your child.  It’s also a time where you’ll be very focused on your child so take advantage and enjoy spending time with them!

Make a party box.  One of my readers shared a great tip on my Facebook page.   She said each time her child had a successful trip to the potty they would bring out the party box, make a big ruckus & have a piece of candy and then packed it away until next time.

Use Unscented Dog training pads to help keep couches and rugs clean.  If my child is going to sit down on the couch for longer than a couple minutes, I put them on top of a training pad so if they have an accident it won’t mess up my couch!

Order dinner out the first night (or have a dinner pre-made) You will be so  tired that the last thing you want to do is worry about what to make for dinner!

Expect lots of accidents.  If you expect accidents to happen, you’ll be much more likely to take them in stride. Children take some time to learn their body signals (the feeling that tells them they have to go potty)

Speaking of accidents…

Prepare a cleaning bucket.  Have lots of towels and cleaning supplies together in a bucket and keep it with you. When the accident(s) happen, you’ll be armed and ready!  Here’s what I have in mine:

Keep a cleaning bucket ready for potty training!

Keep a container of Disinfecting Wipes beside each toilet, especially if you’re potty training a boy.  As with a lot of things, boys can be particularly messier than girls, especially when potty training.

For Naptime & Nightime Success

For the sake of my sanity, I chose to keep my kids in Pull-Ups for nap time and at night while potty training until they stayed dry on a regular basis.  It really kept the whole potty training process much easier and less stressful for all of us.  My children wore regular underwear all day and then put on Pull-Ups for nap time and at night.  

If you plan to use Pull-Ups in conjunction with real underwear, here’s some important tips:

  • DO NOT call the Pull-Ups diapers.  If you child equates them with diapers they may go in them.
  • If you child calls them diapers, gently correct them so they know they still are expected to keep them dry and clean.  We call them naptime and nighttime underwear.
  • Have your child stand up while you put them on.  Don’t lay them down and put it on like a diaper.  Again, we’re enforcing the fact that this is still underwear and the goal is to keep them dry.

Even with Pull-Ups, accidents will still happen.

Have extra bedding sheets and a waterproof mattress cover clean and ready to go.  I keep an entire sheet set and waterproof mattress cover all stuffed inside the pillowcase so it’s ready to go.  I recommend having at least two full sets on hand.  This will be a life saver for those nights when accidents happen at 3 in the morning.

Take your child to the bathroom when you go to bed.  This will offer them a chance to empty their bladder and give them a greater chance of waking up dry in the morning.  

When You Start Going Out

Keep in mind that your child will still be in the potty training stages for awhile.  Stay prepared in case of an accident.

Always have the child go potty before you leave the house.  Usually my kids will say “I don’t have to go!”  I gently tell them that we will always do a potty stop before leaving the house.  If they try to go and they can’t that’s okay! 

Use unscented Dog training pads like this in your carseat to help catch an accident.

Brilliant idea! Use dog training pads to keep car seats clean while kids are potty training.

Convert your diaper bag.  Make sure you have an extra pair of underwear, pants, wipes and a small trash bag to hold soiled clothes just in case.  


I hate to say it but most kids (including both of mine) have major oppositions to pooping on the potty.   It took a long time before my children were regularly pooping on the potty.  So here’s some tips to help make that transition come easier.

  • Pick out a big prize you can give your child for his or her first poop on the potty.  Talk it up!  Your child may be willing to poop on the potty for that new doll or truck they’ve really been wanting!
  • During the first stages of poop potty-training, stay in the bathroom with them.  Use Poo Potpourri to help mask some of the unpleasant poop smell.  This stuff is amazing & I highly recommend it!
  • Offer slightly bigger rewards for successful pooping in the potty.
  • For boys: have them pee first, then sit them down to poop.  Otherwise as they try to push it out, they’ll end up peeing all over the floor and you as well! {I’m speaking from personal experience on this!}
  • Fiber is your friend.  Fiber can help bowel movements come more regularly and come out easier.  I keep a bag of dried prunes in the freezer and my kids love them!  Don’t give them too much fiber or else they will get a stomach ache and it will backfire.  Usually 2 prunes is enough to get things going.
  • Keep them hydrated.  Most times children struggle to poop because they aren’t drinking enough liquids.

After A Bad Day

Remember this–they will be potty trained….some day.  It may not be today or tomorrow but they will go to high school without diapers.  So take a deep breath and try again tomorrow! 

What’s the best (or worst) potty training advice you’ve received?

*This post contains affiliate links.  I only share products I truly believe in and if you make a purchase you’ll be supporting Carrie This Home at no extra cost to you!  You can see my full disclosure here.

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  1. I need help, my son is 3 years old, about a month ago we started potty training and he learned really fast how to pee in the toilet, not major accidents since then, but going poop has been painful! I have tried almost everything: stickers, a big cup cake if he goes, candy, etc, but the only times he had done it in the toilet is because we have see the signs that he is going already. When he poops in his underwear he doesn’t care at all if he is dirty. I’m really tired of the cleaning, throwing the underwear, etc. Please any advice I would appreciated.

    • We are going through the EXACT same thing with my son right now. I’m so sorry Iva–I know this is hard! It took both of my kids a long time to poop on the potty on a regular basis. It’s a bad cycle–he poops in his underwear, I get upset (which makes it worse) and then we’re both stressed out.
      It may take your son a long time to get this but it’s okay! He WILL get it someday! Here’s a couple of tips that have helped me:
      Hold on to the hope that he WILL get it someday.
      Try your best not to get upset at him when he makes a mistake–keeping your cool will help the both of you.
      Do little things to keep the stress level down for both of you. For example I buy cheap underwear for my kids so I don’t mind throwing it out if needed.
      When he does have success, even just a little bit, make a big deal of it!
      By far the best thing I’ve done to help get through this situation is to pray. I’ll be praying for both of you 🙂
      I hope this helps. Keep me updated and feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.

    • Hi Mary! Honestly I do not have any experience potty training twins, sorry! You’re welcome to share any tips you learn here along the way. I hope it goes well!

  2. We use a piddle pad (you can get them at Buy Buy Baby) and they fit onto the car seat and hold up to 16 oz of liquid! And it saves you from having to pull the whole car seat apart!! It works AMAZING wonders even when my toddler was a baby and would explode out of her diaper or even just pee a whole lot!! Thank for the tips! We’re working on potty training our 20 month old and she is doing pretty good but still far from pooping in the potty 🙄

    • Those piddle pads sound awesome! Pooping in the potty took quite awhile for both of my kids too but it seems like you’ve got a good attitude about it!

  3. I have been trying to start potty training our 20 months old but haven’t had any kind of success. We 2 floor potties. One that looks like a toilet and one that is a chair. The toilet one she is scaried of and the other one she likes to play with it. But as far as trying to get her to start potty training hasn’t been good yet. I have even put pull ups on her to see if it would help her but its like she is scarier of them. I wanted her out of diaper by her 2nd birthday but I don’t see it happening.

    • It’s so difficult when things don’t go as planned. You’re right–it may not happen by the 2nd birthday but that’s okay! I potty trained both my kids when they were slightly older than 2. Perhaps you’ll have an easier time if you take a break and try when your child shows some interest in the potty. Hang in there, Crystal!

  4. This is my first time too, my little girl is almost 28 months old and showing all signs of being ready to potty train. I’m really struggling with getting my little one to tell me BEFORE that she needs to go. She will tell me all excitedly that she has to go potty and I get so proud just to be disappointed that she’s peed her pants already and is expecting a treat for going but she didn’t make it so I have to tell her no.

    We are on our 3rd try. First time I gave up before the end of day 1 because she cried asking for a diaper, second time she got really sick on day 2 and now we are on our 2nd day with no successful potty trips yet. I’m watching her clues, Ive been timing it. Nothing seems to work and it’s frustrating to say the least.

    • Jodi I know that feeling of disappointment. That is so hard to go through! You can do it!
      I wish I could give you a magic formula that would instantly work but we both know that’s not reality 😉
      (This is just my own opinion so feel free to decide what’s best for you!) I would try to still reward her if she’s able to get ANYTHING in the potty (like one M&M) even if she gets her underwear wet. Maybe a taste of a little success will give her the motivation to tell you earlier the next time. Then tell her that next time if she can go potty again and keep her underwear dry, she can get a bigger reward (like 2 or 3 M&Ms or anything you think she’d be motivated to get) This way she’ll still enjoy being rewarded and have an incentive to try to keep her underwear dry.
      This is also an option but a more drastic one: if you’re able to, clear everything off your schedule and dedicate a whole day to giving her opportunities to have a successful potty trip. Stay close to the bathroom, load her up with her favorite drinks and watch. As soon as you notice she has to go (or if she tells you) literally RUN her to the bathroom and celebrate any amount of success she has. I hope that helps!

  5. We just started potty training our 20 month old. She is doing great, but I was wondering how we should teach her to go on a regular toilet? We went out tonight for the first time since starting we and brought our potty seat that sits on the toilet seat, so each time she told us she need to go potty we took the seat into the Taco Bell bathroom… Do you have any suggestions?

    • That’s wonderful that your daughter is doing well so far! Good job!
      I would slowly get her used to using a normal toilet in an environment she feels comfortable in, like home or Grandma’s house. Then once she gets used to that you can expose her to public bathrooms a little more. But I would definitely bring some sanitizing wipes for those public toilets!
      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  6. our son just turned 4 and fights me on potty training. luckily with easter we had several eggs on the counter and he asked for one. I told him if he would potty he could have one and voila. We set the timer on my phone every 30 minutes, run to the potty, and if we go and are dry, then he gets an egg with a treat. Im hoping to keep the pace but his one year old sister makes it a challenge. Im not sure what to do with her in public, but we got to start somewhere!

    • Yes I know it’s challenging potty training when you have more than one child to care for! It sounds like you’re off to a great start! That’s wonderful that he’s having success already!
      I remember being worried about going out in public while potty training. I would have my kids go potty right before we leave and usually they won’t have to go while we’re out.
      Keep it up Tami! You can do it!

  7. I’m attempting to potty train my first child, but she hates sitting on the potty. I have both a floor potty and a seat to go on the toilet. It doesn’t matter, she hates both. She tells me when she has to go potty before hand, but when it comes to going ON the potty she screams and cries. When she finally calms down and sits on it for awhile, she specifically holds it and will go shortly after getting off all over the floor. I tried showing her she can get special treats that are only for potty time, but it’s not working. Please help…

    • I know that struggle all too well! You’re not alone! The fact that she’s able to tell you when she has to go is a HUGE success! Good job to the both of you! Now we have to figure out how to help her go once she’s on the potty.
      I’m no expert, but here’s a couple suggestions: Try to find out if there’s something keeping her from going potty. Is she scared? Is she afraid of the sound of the flushing? Is there something making her uncomfortable while she’s on the seat? Is the seat super cold? Talk with her and do what you can to ease her fears or help her feel more comfortable.
      Sometimes kids start a power struggle over potty training. Potty training my daughter helped me discover that she is strong willed and won’t be likely to do something until she is ready. Potty training got a LOT easier when she decided she wanted to do it. If your daughter is strong willed, it may be a little more difficult (but not impossible) to potty train her.
      I’m not sure on your exact situation but I would say try to do what you can to make it a fun process. If you both need to take a break and start fresh later down the road, that is an option too.
      I hope that helps. Hang in there–she WILL get it eventually!

  8. What is that potty seat called? I can’t get the link to work. We are germophobes here and struggling big time with potty training. Thanks for the tips!

  9. One thing on keeping extra sheets on hand: why not put them all on the bed? On my daughter’s bed, we have: original plastic wrapping on the mattress, then a fitted sheet. Over the fitted sheet, a waterproof mattress pad with another fitted sheet over it. And then another pad, and the last sheet. Then we also have a few sheets not on the bed.
    So, she *could* have 2 accidents in one night without having to put anything new on her bed! We are doing pretty well using the potty during the day, but she is still in diapers at night. Although, she has been dry the last three mornings! 🙂

    • Now that is a great idea! I love the fact that even if two accidents happen in one night, the dirty sheets can be easily taken off and the new ones are ready to go. Wish I would have thought of that 4 years ago! Thanks for sharing your tip with us!!

    • Oh great–I’m glad you found this helpful Rachel! I remember needing a refresher before potty training my second child. It was interesting finding out how much I forgot!

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  11. I love the party box idea! I’ll be starting my last child before I know it, and she has an older sister who will want to get it on all the prizes. Pinned! Stopping by from Creative Spark.

    • The party box is great because it gets everyone involved and excited! Big siblings have a strong influence on the little ones, so if they’re excited the one training will be excited too! Thanks so much for the pin!

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    • You’re so sweet Rosemarie!
      I’m right there in the potty training trenches with you! Keep at it and it will get better. It won’t always be this hard! {I have to say that to myself, too!}

  14. GREAT POST! Lots of useful tips.

    I want to share some tips that I know.

    As with any other skill, the more they use the potty, the better he/she’ll be at it.

    If your child has a favorite doll or stuffed animal, try using it for potty demonstrations. Most children enjoy watching their favorite toy go through the motions, and may learn more this way than from you telling them what to do.

    Dress your child in loose-fitting clothes that they can easily take off him/herself, or buy panties a size too big.

    I notice so many people mention this

    Thanks for sharing!
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  15. My daycare provider always gave the kids pops for when they went poo in the potty. This became so routine for the kids that one Thanksgiving my uncle gave my oldest a pop. In her loudest voice, in the middle of my grandmother’s kitchen, came the infamous works “this is for when I poop!” She is five now, and this is still one of the funniest things she ever did. From the mouth’s of babes. Some of the best advice I received for potty training at home was to let my oldest pick out her very own potty. After looking at all of the ones at Walmart, she chose a princess potty that makes a tingling bell sound when you “flush”. It also doubles as a stool. We still use it as a stool to this day, and will see if the little sis likes it too, when it’s her time to try the potty in another year. Stickers for pee-pee by the way, are an awesome idea, at home we used a chart and this worked well.

    • That is so funny!! I could totally see one of my kids doing that.
      I agree that letting your child pick out some of the equipment because it can really get them excited!

  16. These are great tips you have here! I am going to be potty training my third child next week. I am SO dreading it. Your tips were all great reminders of things I’ve done in the past. Thanks for sharing.

  17. These are great tips! I’m definitely going to keep them in mind when the baby reaches this stage. I reallylike that potty inside the toilet addition.