What is a Successful First Day of Potty Training?


A successful first day of potty training requires some intense time and energy. Make sure you have friends and family ready to help, too!

On Day 1, leave as little between your child’s butt and the potty as possible. Naked works best, but a short dress or shirt is fine too.

  1. Your child is ready

As you know, a successful first day of potty training means that your child is ready for the change. That doesn’t mean that they will have a clean diaper or no accidents, but it does mean that they are able to follow your instructions and understand what is expected of them.

A good indicator is that they are able to point to or say the words “pee pee” and “poo poo.” It also helps if your little one shows an interest in using the toilet and/or wearing big-kid underwear.

If they are interested, try taking them shopping to buy their first potty chair (you can even turn this into a fun outing by making it a family affair). It’s also important that they have an understanding of what happens when you use the toilet or put dirty clothes in the hamper. You can help by showing them your bathroom habits and letting them see how you, their sibling, and other adults in the household use the toilet.

You can also help your child feel more comfortable sitting on the potty by offering snacks and treats to them while they sit there – this isn’t going to be permanent, but for now, it can make them feel more at ease. Also, try to keep your child well hydrated by breaking your juice-free policy and encouraging them to drink lots of water throughout the day.

It’s recommended to start with pants (even if it’s just for short outings), then switch to pull-ups or cotton underwear once your child successfully wears them during the day. Do not continue to use pull-ups at night or during naps until they are consistently wearing underwear during these times.

Be sure to make visiting the potty a regular part of your daily routine. This may be as simple as putting your child on the potty right after they wake up with a dry diaper and before any other activities, or it can be as involved as sitting them on the potty every 30 minutes to check for a wet or poopy bottom – and then rewarding them with a treat. Make sure to make hand hygiene a non-negotiable part of each potty visit, too.

  1. You are ready

If your child has been interested in potty training, is at least mildly familiar with the potty chair or toilet (if not fully), and can sit on it for a short time without getting distracted or running away, you’re ready to start. You also need to be prepared for a shift in your daily routine and schedule. This method requires a bit more focus and attention, and you’ll need to be prepared to keep your little one as clean as possible for a few days – which may mean a few more outings at home than usual.

To prepare, set up the potty in a place that your child frequents a lot, and set them up with an outfit that makes them comfortable and excited about potty time. Naked is the best option, but a shirt and pants are fine as well if they’re not too warm. Make sure there’s nothing between their butt and the potty chair, though – they don’t want to feel anything sticking to them.

Explain to them what the potty is, how it works, and what happens in it. You might even dump the contents of a dirty diaper onto the potty chair and toilet to show them what it looks like and what the process is all about. Then encourage them to try it and praise them if they successfully pee or poop in the potty! Give them a small treat (like a sticker, M&M, or bubbles) and a big, proud high five if they do it on their own.

Continue to remind them regularly to visit the potty – especially after large drinks, before daytime naps, and near the end of the day, when their focus might be starting to fade. Also, encourage them to be self-advocates and let you know when they need to go.

And finally, don’t be afraid to take a break if things aren’t going well. Potty training is a process, and if your child isn’t able to be as successful as you’d like them to be right now, that’s okay. Just try again tomorrow if you can, and be patient.

  1. You are consistent

Day 2 goes on like Day 1, but this time you can put pants on your child (assuming they were successful without them). Have lots of fluids, play, and go to the potty every 20-30 minutes or as often as you feel is needed. Try to avoid taking your child outside until they pee first, as this will help them be more aware of the need to go and can reduce the chances of accidents. Throughout the day, continue to use rewards to encourage your child. Avoid other treats during this period, such as candy or chips. These will undermine the leverage of the ‘you did it!’ treat.

You may notice fewer accidents on this day than the previous one, but it is important to remember that children learn at their own pace. It is not unusual to have a few accidents even after your child has successfully made it through the day in pants, and that’s okay. It is best to keep the momentum going by staying positive and continuing to reinforce their successes.

On this day, it’s also a good idea to try a reminder-free day (this works best at home), where you don’t remind your child that they need to go to the potty. Instead, set up a code word for them to let you know that they have to go, such as a cough or a giggle, and then heap on the praise when they actually do it!

If things are still a bit messy, try a naked day. This can make your child more aware of their body’s signals, and it’s easier to see if they have peed on themselves than if they have a wet or dirty diaper covering them. You can also keep a potty close by and rush them over when they have the urge to go.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to bring your child’s reward treats with you on outings to encourage them to keep using the potty. If they have an accident, don’t get frustrated or angry, as this can discourage them and cause them to become resistant to training. If it becomes too much, you may want to take a break from potty training for a little while and reintroduce it later.

  1. You are excited

It’s no secret that your little one can be sensitive to your tone of voice or your attitude toward potty training. If you’re not excited, your child will sense this and may not be as eager to try it out.

However, you should never get angry or frustrated during the potty-training process. Getting upset will only make your child resist more and will not help them learn. Stay calm and encourage your child to continue trying to sit on the potty every 30 minutes, even if they don’t have an accident. If they do have an accident, it’s important that you remain calm and clean up the mess as best as possible.

Find a day when you can have your child’s full attention for potty training. You might need to cancel a playdate, a movie date with their older sibling, or other obligations. Setting aside three consecutive days during which you won’t have any outside commitments is also a good idea.

When the big day arrives, lead your child into the room where training will take place and explain what is going to happen. You might also want to dress your child in clothes that are easy to pull up and down, such as pants or shorts with elastic waistbands. You’ll want to have as little fabric between their butt and the potty chair as possible during this first day of training, as they will likely need to be naked a lot of the time for a while.

Be sure to have a celebratory snack ready for your child when they’ve successfully used the potty. A small treat will help to reinforce and encourage them to use the potty again. You might also consider a sticker chart to help them track their progress. One of my friends gave her daughter an M&M each time she went on the potty, which worked well for them. Just be sure you don’t give your child too many treats, or they might start associating the potty with not going to the bathroom.

After your child has had a successful first day of potty training, let them know how proud you are and how big of a deal it is that they’re no longer wearing diapers. Inviting family members and friends to celebrate with you is a great idea, as it will further inspire your child to keep up the good work.


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