How to Potty Train in 3 Days (Yes, Really!)
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3 Day Potty Training Bootcamp
If you’ve searched the mom groups or even heard other moms talk about the
dreaded exciting process of potty training, chances are pretty good you’ve heard of the 3 day potty training boot camp.
So what’s the secret for how to potty train in 3 days? And is it even really possible to potty train in less than 3 days?
Yes, yes, and yes! Well…kind of. Ha!
If your child is ready to be potty trained, then the three-day potty training boot camp can definitely be the real deal and provide some awesome results. We were able to potty train our son using this method and found it so effective.
No pull-ups, no drug out process, only a few days of solid hard work – and that felt like mostly hard work for mom and dad. I’ll give you the whole rundown on how we potty trained our busy boy in three days and potty training tips you can use to get your boy or girl potty trained fast!
Pssst – you don’t even need pull-ups – some parents even swear that pulls ups hinder potty training.
Is Your Child Ready?
So here’s the REAL question when it comes to fast potty training.
It isn’t will it work, it’s “is my child ready to be potty trained?”.
When we decided we were going to potty train our son, he was just over two years old and my husband and I had a few weeks off of work. The timing worked great for our schedule, so we figured we give it a go.
And it was a disaster. And 100%, not our son’s fault.
He wasn’t ready, but we were.
We focused on whether or not we were ready to potty train him, instead of knowing that he wasn’t ready. So how did we know he wasn’t ready to potty train?
Well, he was showing some great signs that he was ready:
- He was interested in the potty
- He would practice sitting on the potty
- He *seemed* to know when he had to go potty
- We were changing fewer wet diapers
I will note that he was not dry when he woke up from naps or bedtime, but that wasn’t something we were worried about. We just wanted the daytime potty training done.
So how did he show us that he wasn’t ready for potty training?
We tried the 3-day potty training boot camp and he had 5 accidents in less than 1 hour. We would talk to him after each accident and talk about how he needed to tell us when he needed to go. He’d nod and agree with us, but a few minutes later – another accident.
We quickly learned that his sweet young brain just wasn’t making all the connections yet to make this potty training thing a reality.
So instead of pushing potty training, we abandoned the idea after about an hour and a half and decided to try again in a few weeks. And much to our excitement, a couple of weeks later he was ready!
The accidents were far fewer and we were using the potty training in three days method. Woooo!
So what’s the takeaway here?
Be sure your toddler is ready to be potty trained, and don’t stress if they’re not.
I can’t say this enough.
Your toddler will learn, but sometimes, they’re just not ready yet and that’s okay. If it helps, think about it this way: when they graduate from high school is anyone going to be saying, “yeah my child was potty trained at 2 so he’s going to be so much more successful than his friend who was potty trained at 3”. Yeah… I don’t think so.
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Getting Ready to Potty Train
So what do you need to do to prepare yourself to potty train your toddler in a weekend?
First, you need to choose the weekend to potty train your child!
You’ll want to aim for a three day weekend (or just three days in a row) that you can commit to potentially staying home and not leaving the house for three days. This doesn’t mean you absolutely can’t leave, but if it’s the way it works out, you need to be prepared to stay home as it might help your toddler be more successful.
The next thing you need to do is buy supplies for your three-day potty training boot camp.
Your little is going to need an ample supply of toddler underwear – I recommend you grab his/her favorite character ones (it’ll make them more excited about the new adventure), a potty chair or two (I like to put one in the living room for easy access – this is our favorite one), some yummy drinks and juice boxes, a few salty snacks, and potentially some prizes or incentives.
We started our potty training by thinking we’d skip the incentives but quickly changed our tune when they really worked well for our son.
So what are the drinks and snacks for? During your potty training boot camp, you’ll want to encourage your child to drink LOTS.
I know what you’re thinking, “why would I want them to have more to drink? They’ll be more likely to have accidents!”.
Yes and no. You need to switch your thinking – they’ll have more chances for potty successes! Which is what you really want to focus and cheer for.
Here’s your supply list to grab at the store:
- Potty Chair (this one for at home/this one for on the go potty chair)
- Salty Snacks
- Candy/Treats/Incentives (if you choose to)
Talk to Your Child About Potty Training and What’s Coming
The day or week before you start potty training your child, it’s important to talk with him or her about the plan.
Let them know that they’re becoming a big boy or girl and it’s time to start going potty in the potty chair.
You’ll want to show them the chair (if they haven’t seen it already – I recommend letting them be exposed to the chair for weeks beforehand so they get used to and don’t see it as anything scary), and possibly read them a book about using the potty.
You don’t have to go in too much detail about the potty training boot camp, but make sure they know what’s coming without ambushing them the morning of.
Toddlers don’t like those kinds of life-changing surprises.
How to Potty Train Your Boy or Girl in Three Days
Now that all the plans are in place for the 3-day potty training method, it’s time to get started! Here’s the next three days broken down.
When your child wakes up today, it’s time to get started! Remind him or her that today is the day and they’re going to be going potty in the potty chair. No more diapers!
Take off his or her diaper and put on their underwear – without putting pants on. Some parents prefer to have their little one go without undies too, but I preferred having a little extra barrier, plus I felt like my son would be more uncomfortable in sopping wet underwear than nothing at all.
Nevertheless, it’s up to you which way you’d like to try it!
Next, move your child’s potty chair into the living room for easy access when they need to go potty.
If you’re totally against this idea and think it’s just “too gross” for you, it’s okay to leave the potty chair in the bathroom. BUT – no matter WHAT, make sure you tell your child very clearly where the potty chair is – even if it’s right in front of him or her.
Also, be sure to use frequent, friendly reminders.
“Hey sweetie, if you need to go potty, remember the potty chair is right there” – and then physically show them where it is, making sure they’re looking and paying attention.
Now it’s time to let the potty training boot camp really begin!
Offer juice, water, popsicles, or other salty snacks that encourage your child to drink up. This will make them have to pee frequently, which is what you want! You want them to have lots of chances to try making it to the potty.
If your little one is acting like they have to go, don’t be afraid to ask them if they need to try the potty. When they start to show a sign they need to go, take them to the potty right away to try.
Throughout the day, continue reminding your child where the potty is and asking him or her if she needs to use the potty.
Some parents will do this as frequently as every 20 minutes. There are two thoughts on this – one, to set a timer every 20 minutes and have your child try the potty, or – two, letting your child figure it out and not be “timer trained”.
So what’s the right option?
It depends on your child! Some kids really need to constantly try the potty, while others are able to figure things out on their own quickly enough to skip the timer.
Rest assured, if you do try the timer, your child will not be “timer trained” forever.
When your child does make it to the potty successfully, celebrate BIG. I mean jump up and down, do a little dance, and tell your child how proud of them you are. Make each event a big deal so they know what the goal of this whole potty training thing really is.
So what do you do if your child doesn’t want to try the potty?
Remember, you don’t want potty training to be a battle, you want the experience to be a positive one for your child and a painless one for you!
Try saying things like “after you finish playing with blocks, we need to try the potty”.
This can also be the time to break out some of your incentives. Remember, “When you go potty on the potty chair, you get a gummy worm!”.
On day two, continue what you were doing on day 1. If things are going really well you may decide to add pants back into the mix. It’s normal for your child to still have some accidents today, so be patient and remember to stay positive.
Happy day 3 of potty training! Keep on keeping on with the day 1 and 2 potty training techniques. By today, your child is probably starting to really get the hang of the routine.
Hopefully, the number of accidents has dwindled to one or two by today and your child is excited and proud of his or her new skill.
What To Do When An Accident Happens?
There are times that your child will not make it to potty. Sometimes many many times.
When this happens, don’t make a big deal out of the mess and never make them feel ashamed. Instead, try saying something like “oops! Next time try to make it to the potty!”, then help your child change into new underwear.
This is also where I like to instill a part of “responsibility” in my child. I certainly wouldn’t and don’t recommend ever punishing your child for an accident, but I do encourage and ask him to help clean up the mess.
I grab a towel and some wipes and while truly doing most of the work myself, have my toddler “help” by wiping a small part of the floor.
Even this process of helping clean up should be a positive one. “It’s okay, accidents happen! But we need to help clean up”.
Should I Use Candy, Prizes, or Incentives?
Some parents are not into using prizes and incentives.
They may feel like their child is only going potty on the potty chair for the incentives and once they’re taken away the child won’t do it anymore.
This was NOT our experience 😉
After using gummy worms as an incentive the first day for every success, we dialed it back and only gave gummy worms for pooping on the potty.
After about a week of that, we were able to give up treats and incentives altogether. That being said, if it meant I never had to change a diaper or clean up an accident again, I may have been willing to give a gummy worm a day for the rest of my life 😉
If candy isn’t your thing, consider incentives like “if you can make it to the potty 5 times today, we can go to the park”, or “if you don’t have any accidents today, we can go get a new book at the library”.
Naps and Nighttime Potty Training Adjustments
So how about 3 day potty training for nighttime?
Well, to be honest we haven’t crossed that bridge yet.
Our toddler still wears diapers to bed and they are super wet when he wakes up, which tells us that he’s not ready for overnight potty training yet.
However, after the 3 day potty training boot camp, he was able to try the potty before naps and still be dry a couple of hours later when he woke up. So no more diapers at naptime, horray!
Once we start to notice that our toddler is dry or at least “more dry” in the mornings, we’ll start to keep underwear on him overnight. But for now, we use these overnight diapers that work great.
What About Potty Training at Daycare?
So what do you do about potty training at daycare?
My best advice is to do the potty training boot camp while you’ve got a long weekend to help make sure your child is ready to roll when it’s time to go back to daycare.
Hopefully, you have a good relationship with your daycare provider and they’re willing to help remind your toddler to try the potty and you can work together to help your child to continue to succeed at potty training.
I don’t recommend putting them back into diapers when they go to daycare as you don’t want to see their progress go backward. Keep encouraging good potty use, and use incentives if you need to!
Do Pull Ups Hinder Potty Training?
Oh pull ups. They seem so great in your mind, but do pull ups hinder potty training success?
In our experience, yes.
Your child probably recognizes that a pull up is similar to a diaper and peeing in the pullup will not have the same effect as peeing in underwear will.
Wearing a pull up MAY cause your child to have more accidents since they’ll be less aware that they need to go to the potty when they need to go. If they have an accident in the pull up, big deal.
BUT if the accident is in their underwear, yikes, that’s a mess and feels terrible.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I see the allure of pull ups while potty training. But for this method to work, I’d recommend skipping the pull ups all together and potty training without pull ups.
Potty Training Tips
Here’s the potty training tips you’ll want to remember to be able to potty train in 3 days or less:
- Remind your child frequently where the potty is
- Ask your child often if they need to use the potty
- Be positive with all interactions
- Celebrate BIG when they have a potty success
- Have your child “help” you clean up the potty accidents
- Don’t be afraid to stop and try again in a few weeks
Day 3 Potty Training No Progress (Or Even Day 2 Potty Training No Success!)
So what happens if the 3 day potty training method is not working?
It’s okay! Your child just may not be ready yet.
Your toddler’s brain is growing and developing all the time and some children are just ready sooner than others. If by day 3 of potty training there’s no progress or even by day 2, it’s okay to call it quits and try again in a few weeks.
Don’t make your toddler feel guilty or ashamed. Remember, keep things positive and say “it’s okay! We’ll try again in a few weeks.”
For more on toddler tips don’t miss these related posts:
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