Beginner’s Guide to Potty Training

I’ve already potty trained three boys, and we’re right around the corner from starting training with my fourth. He’ll be two this November and is already showing signs that he’s on the verge of being ready to start potty training. With all my trial and error attempts, it was time to lay down a basic Beginner’s Guide to Potty Training to help those of you tackling potty training for the first time (or again!).

This post is sponsored by Pampers. Affiliate links are included below. All opinions are my own. 

Everything you need to help you get started potty training your toddler! Know what signs to look for that show they're ready to get started, the tools you'll need, and tips and tricks that will help you as you potty train!

Signs they may be ready:

Watch for some of these signs as indicators that your child may be ready to get started. Most children start somewhere between 18-24 months.

  • Don’t want their diaper – If your child is ripping off their diaper or running over to you with a clean diaper whenever they want to be changed, there’s a good chance they are ready to get started!
  • Potty Words – When your child can communicate about needing to go or that they have gone with some early potty words like “pee-pee” or “poo-poo” that’s a great indicator as well.
  • Dry diapers for naps/bedtime – Whether or not your child is communicating about their need to go, if they wake up dry from naps or bedtime with a dry diaper, they are holding in their bladder until they are awake which is a great step in the potty training process, especially for night training.
  • Can understand and follow directions – If you have a child that loves to follow along and do any of the steps you tell them such as asking them to pick up a toy and carry it to their toy basket or going to the shoe shelf to collect their shoes, then you can start showing them the bathroom process, too.

My nearly 2 year old has been running over to me carrying a new clean diaper and pointing to his diaper telling me “ewwwww” all this week. It’s exciting to see the shift in his behavior in just the past few weeks as he’s begun to recognize the need for a change and understand what’s happening with his body. The first steps we always take is getting the potty trainee interested in the potty and familiar with it as it can be a bit overwhelming at first.

Beginners Guide to Potty Training

Gathering our Potty Gear:

To make the potty training process smoother, I get prepared with several essential supplies to help during the process.

  • Potty chair (this one is awesome and only $10!) or a toilet seat insert
  • Step stool
  • Flushable wipes
  • Foaming hand soap
  • Stickers or other rewards
  • Pampers Easy Ups
  • Underwear

Have your gear on hand before you begin the process and have the new potty gear out and in the open so your little one can get used to it. As we are introducing the potty, we make sure to make it really casual without even much of a mention until the little one points out the new bathroom additions. My boys have always loved showing off what they found and when we don’t go overboard trying to make it a forced transition, it all goes much more smoothly.

First Potty Training Steps & Tips:

Potty Trips: One of the first steps we take, after pulling out our potty training equipment, is to take a trip to check out the potty every day or using those words with our son to see if he’s ready and would like to try sitting on the potty, even if nothing happens when he takes a seat. Just trying out the potty chair is the first big step on the process, especially if you’re using a toilet seat insert as the big potty can seem scary.

Beginners Guide to Potty Training

Rewards: I’m a big fan of small and simple rewards for their progress along the way – whether that be a sticker chart, candy, a few goldfish, a new inexpensive toy, you name it. I usually do stickers for the smaller progress goals and a candy or car or something similar when they are successful for #2 or their first time going #1. The point it just to show your child in a tangible way that you are proud of them and they did something great!

Clean-Up: A big part of the potty training process is making sure you also teach your child to wipe, flush, and wash their hands. These skills are something they’ll need to master while they’re in these early learning steps so they won’t struggle as they become more independent in the bathroom. We LOVE flushable wipes to make cleaning up bottoms easier as you transition to toilet paper. A step stool is absolutely key to help your child reach the sink and lather up with foaming hand soap, which makes washing hands so much easier and more fun for little hands.

Beginners Guide to Potty Training

Easy Ups: Pampers is taking care of the most frustrating part of potty training with their Easy Ups training pants. They offer protection while not feeling like a traditional diaper. They can help you easily transition your child from diapers on through potty training and eventually to underwear without endless pairs of wet/accident underwear to deal with. Plus, facing an accident can be frustrating and discouraging to both parents and the potty training toddler so Easy Ups can smooth those frustrations.

A Must Have: Potty Train in a Weekend eBook!


Need more help with your potty training routine? I’m loving this book I recently stumbled across on How to Potty Train in a Weekend! I am so trying her tips and method with baby boy #5 who we will start potty training this year!


What would you add to this beginners guide to potty training?


About Janel

Hi, I'm Janel! I'm the owner and lead blogger here at A Mom's Take. I have five little boys age 8 and under. I am a Phoenix based mom blogger and love the sun. I love to travel and have been known for planning trips specifically to hit the roller coasters! I enjoy digital scrapbook and design and I'm obsessed with board games.


Beginner’s Guide to Potty Training — 81 Comments

  1. You have every tip I’ve used.I started my daughter at about 2 also.For #1 she got sticker and #2 M&Ms.Then she’d do both so I’d get her a special treat.These are some great tips for new moms.My daughter has all this to look forward to.Lol!

  2. Great tips! Potty training techniques have come a long way since I was young. Back then, there was a recommended age and the child was pretty much forced to do it whether they were ready or not, and if they didn’t succeed, they were forced even more. Unfortunately those older techniques still hold among some people who don’t bother to educate themselves more about it or hold onto old ways just because they’re old ways.

  3. Great tips for potty training. There is nothing like shouting eureka once they finally learn!

  4. Great tips, while I was potty training my children I would let them run around with no clothes on to once in a while to make it easier for them to squat on the potty chair.

  5. I remember the potty training days. The only real issue we had was going potty on the big girl potty wasn’t enforced when she would stay with relatives. So we were having to stop her from going to stay with her grandparents because it was easier for them to let her go in her panties.

  6. Too cute! Congrats to your nearly 2 year old boy! I don’t have kids of my own, but your beginners guide to potty training covers pretty much everything. Thanks!

  7. Great post! Those tips are all great and we used most of them with our 4. We had to use the potty inserts though. We bought potty chairs but our kids wouldn’t have it. They wanted to use the big potty like we did.

  8. i dont have kids, so i dont know abt potty training, but david letterman and tina fey were talking abt potty training the other night. good tips for training kids.

  9. This is an excellent article with great tips. The sticker reward chart has worked great for me. And as another reward when mine made it through a day with no accidents I added fruit fruit popsicles as a reward of an evening. My oldest daughter took three months to train were as my oldest so took less than a week.


  10. I am going to book mark this. My son is 2 and 1/2 and the few times I’ve attempted potty training it is an epic fail….pee all over the place! lol I need to start by getting the list of things you suggested.

    • Katrina, along with the tips above…add cheerios or fruit loops to the mix. My son always got a kick out of sinking the colored ships. For boys going the first couple of months, I sat mine on the potty backwards (as though they were standing in front of it) because it allowed them to lean in a bit with the back of the bowl for support, providing a downward aim to avoid accidentally squirting me while kneeling in front of them to help them balance. This way seemed to provide them potty indepence and control much quicker then other options I tried.

  11. Potty training ugh sooo fun right? lol exhausting more like it lol.
    My son is 2 and were potty training now and its been no simply feat but it does get easier as they get more comfortable with the potty routine.

  12. I loved your first tip that if they are taking off a soiled diaper and getting another it’s time to get a potty chair..

  13. Potty trainning boys was the challenge,but we made it year later;-).With my daughter took a week;-)Great tips.

  14. My son is starting to potty train too. I just wish he would tell me before he goes number two! Now, he tells me after the facts.

  15. These are all great tips! The biggest mistake I made with potty training my son is not waiting for the signs. I tried to force it, and that just didn’t work. When he was ready, though, it took no time at all.

  16. Love your beginners potty training tips! You did a great job on them. I would add tips to drink more water so that they feel their bladder is full and the urge to go more. Thanks!!

  17. Gosh, this lesson on potty training brings back happy memories of the kids advancing from babyhood to grownup toddler stage. Praise is a great motivator to encourage a child to continue any task.

  18. Great post and great tips! I’m a huge believer of watching for signs and letting them tell me they are ready! I have 4 potty trained already and 2 more to go! Woo

  19. It may sound weird, but my daughter always wanted to sit on the big potty and have me sit behind her and hold her while she went. It certainly helped her learn, so I was willing to do it!

  20. My youngest is showing that he is ready for potty training. He got a clean diaper after he pottied in his diaper.

  21. What great starting points and tips! I had a hard time potty training my first born son but the second son was easier. I certainly have to say potty training the boys in comparison to my first born (a girl) was harder overall. Girls just seemed easier.

  22. Love the idea of a sticker chart for rewards. Wish I had thought of that! My son loved stickers at that age.

  23. Potty training is such a big step. It can be stressful, but I found it was easier once I let my kids lead and followed their cues! This was a great beginner’s guide.

  24. Good tips. You need lots of patience to potty train. It took a long time for my son to get the whole routine down – but my daughter got it within 2 days. You learn so much from one child to the next!

  25. It’s been a very long time since potty training; but your tips are great because you have made clean-up part of the process. What I have found is the calmer you are the better it goes. With a younger child it is usually easier; they want to be like the older ones.

  26. these are great tips. and I really like that potty. for us its a must to have one with a lid on it.

  27. I am so glad that I am past this phase in my life LOL. Those are all awesome tips :)

  28. Thanks for the post! I’m a nanny to a little girl and we are starting to potty train now.

  29. This is a great list. I think talking with them is the big part of the training. With my son I let him help me fill a trash sack with all he diapers, creams, wipes and then we talked about him being a big boy. He took to it great. He knew once we through out everything there was no going back.

  30. This post could not have come at a better time. My son is 2/4 signs of showing he is ready. I have found it a bit difficult. He will take off his diaper and pee on the floor but with the toilet he sits, flushes and doesnt go:/I am definitely going to give these pointersa try.

  31. This is an excellent guide for potty training.
    Wish I could have referred to it when the girls were potty trained.

  32. I’ve never thought about the signs being able, I always just thought age, but those are great points and tips.

  33. I do not have any little ones at home, but these are great tips. I will pass them onto a friend.

  34. I think that this is a great guide to beginner’s potty training! I especially like that you make sure to include steps on clean up as a lot of children aren’t taught to wipe and/or wash their hands until later in the potty training process. The only thing I would add is reading books about “going to potty” with your children.Oh and with boys “hitting the Cheerios” in the potty (Lol) is a great way to get them to try more often,this worked for my son and now my grandson.