Simple Guide to Potty Training in 3 Days [step-by-step]

When I first heard about the 3-day potty training method, I thought my couisn was crazy!

How can I potty train my daughter in 3 days when shes been wearing diapers for almost 3 years! That’s all she knows. And as we parents know, when our child tries something for the first time it takes more than a week, so I was very specitical.

But I kept hearing about it and how parents were able to suceesfully potty train their strong willed child in just 3 days! I felt like I had to give it a try, especially since she was about to start preschool. 

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A Simple Guide to Potty Training in 3 days

Table of Contents

What Is The Three-Day Potty Training Method? 

The three-day potty training method is an approach to toilet training toddlers that aims to have them fully trained in just three days.

While the specifics can vary, the general idea is to dedicate a concentrated period of time (usually a long weekend) to focus solely on potty training.

Potty Training - Signs of readiness

Signs of Readiness

Recognizing signs of readiness is crucial when considering potty training for a toddler. While children develop at different rates, here are some common signs that a child may be ready for potty training:

  • Interest in the Potty: The child shows curiosity about the toilet or potty chair. They may ask questions about it or express interest in watching others use it.
  • Staying Dry for Longer Periods: The child’s diapers stay dry for more extended periods, indicating that they can control their bladder to some extent.
  • Awareness of Bodily Functions: The child may start to show awareness of when they are about to urinate or have a bowel movement. They may communicate or gesture when they need to go.
  • Ability to Follow Simple Instructions: If the child can understand and follow basic instructions, it may be a sign that they are ready for potty training.
  • Expressing Discomfort with Dirty Diapers: Some children may show signs of discomfort or express a desire for a diaper change when they are wet or soiled.
  • Independence: The child starts to show signs of independence and may want to do things on their own, including pulling down/up their pants.
  • Motor Skills Development: The child has developed sufficient motor skills to sit on and get off a potty chair or toilet with assistance.
  • Communication Skills: Being able to communicate effectively, either through words or gestures, is important for indicating when they need to use the potty.
  • Consistent Patterns: If the child tends to have predictable bowel movements, it may make potty training easier.

Important Note While these signs can be helpful indicators, there is no specific age at which all children are ready for potty training. It’s essential to be patient, observe your child’s cues, and tailor the training to their individual needs and pace.

Potty Training - How the three day potty training works

How the 3-Day Potty Training Works?

The 3-day potty training method is a focused, intensive approach designed to quickly transition a child from diapers to using the toilet. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how it typically works:

Step 1: Preparation

Before starting, gather the necessary supplies, such as your home, car, and diaper bag essentials. The preparation can take as long as you need it to. I bought my daughter’s potty when she was 2 years old and trained her when she was 2 years and 9 months old. That’s when I felt ready to start. But once you start, you must commit.

Home Essentials for Potty Training

  • Portable Potty: A small potty is essential, especially for those living in a one-bedroom apartment or for easy access around the house.
  • Portable Potty Seat or Toilet Seat with Child Seat Attachment: Some children are afraid of falling into the toilet, so a seat with a child attachment is helpful, particularly during bowel movements.
  • Big Kid Underwear: Underwear is recommended for the initial three days of potty training only. If your child continues to have accidents after five days, you can consider using pull-ups. However, it’s best to avoid them, as they resemble diapers and may hinder progress.
  • Mattress Protector: Useful for nighttime training and providing extra mattress protection.
  • Waterproof Disposable Pee Pads: Can be placed on your toddler’s bed, crib, or couch for added protection.
  • Step Stool: Allows your toddler to reach the toilet and the sink for handwashing.
  • Favorite Fruit Juices: Offering fruit juice can encourage your child to drink more, increasing the likelihood of successful potty visits.
  • Potty Training Book: Reading to your child before potty training starts and during can be beneficial.
  • Disinfectant Wipes: Essential for cleaning up accidents.
  • Potty Training Chart (optional)

Car Essentials (for after the 3 days)

Your Purse or Diaper Bag Essentials

Step 2: Introduce the Concept

Once you have all the essentials, talk to your child about potty training. Show them their new little toilet and explain that, as they grow up, they will soon say goodbye to their diapers and start wearing big kids’ underwear. Let them know when their last day of using diapers will be.

For example, I told my daughter that we would start potty training on the day all her diapers were finished. As we got to the last few diapers, I would count them down and tell her we were getting closer to the last day in an excited voice. She was really excited about it!

Step 3: Stay at Home For Three Full Days

Plan to stay home for three days to provide consistent and intensive potty training. This will help your child associate using the potty with the correct action. Long weekends or holidays are ideal for this.

Three days without leaving your house may seem like a lot, but trust me, it will be worth it. It’s a crucial part of what makes the 3-day method successful. It would be best to give your child your undivided attention, as you need to pay attention to nonverbal signs of needing the potty so you can encourage them nicely and listen to their body.

Step 4: Say Goodbye To The Diaper

The last diaper should be on the morning of the start of your 3-day weekend (so if you need extras, get a few, lol).

When your child wakes up, and you change their last diaper, tell them that this was the last diaper and that they will now be using underwear. Explain that they will now have to listen to their body and go to their potty when they need to pee or poop. (Simple as that)

Step 5: Bring On The Liquid

Once your child knows potty training begins today, offer their favorite drink to encourage more frequent trips as often as they want. More visits to the potty means more practice to get it right.

You can give them juice (dilute it if you can), smoothies, watermelon, ice pops, and water along with their meals (remember to feed them, haha).

Step 6: Take Frequent Potty Breaks

Take your child to the potty regularly throughout the day, especially after meals and drinks. Consistency is important.

You can ask your child to go every half hour or observe their body language for signs they need to go potty and might be holding it. If they say they don’t have to go, you can ask if they can try and see what happens but do not pressure them.

Never force them to go because it may make them scared and cause them to hold their pee.

Step 7: Positive Reinforcement

When your child successfully uses the potty, offer positive reinforcement such as praise or small rewards. This encourages them to continue the behavior. For example, I would tell my daughter, “Good job! You listened to your body,” and she would feel so proud. For another child it might be adding stickers to a potty chart. 

Step 8: Accidents Will Happen

As your child has been using diapers for 2, 3, or 4 years, accidents are bound to happen during the potty-training process. The key is to stay calm and encourage your child to try again when accidents occur.

For instance, after my daughter had an accident, I would remind her that it’s important to listen to her body and use the potty when she needs to go. However, before I said this, she was already learning from her first accident.

She realized that she didn’t like the feeling of pee coming down her legs. This initial experience taught her a valuable lesson and motivated her to have fewer accidents than anything we could say to her.

Step 9: Stay Consistent and Repeat for Three Days

It’s vital to remain consistent and avoid putting your child in a diaper just because they have too many accidents. This won’t help with the potty training process. If your child seems scared, demonstrate how to use the potty by modeling the behavior.

Show how you listen to your body and explain this to your child. It’s important to understand that every child is different, and what works for one child may not work for another. Some children may need more time to understand and learn potty training thoroughly.

With that being said, be patient, positive, and supportive during this process, and be prepared to be surprised by how quickly your child learns to use the potty.

Potty Training

Day-by-day Look at the Process of Potty Training

Day 1: Introduction and Intensity

On the first day of potty training, follow these steps:

  1. Transition to underwear: Have your child switch from diapers to underwear right from the start of the day.
  2. Stay vigilant: Monitor your child closely throughout the day and look for signs that they need to go, such as squirming or holding themselves.
  3. Regular potty breaks: Encourage your child to sit on the potty every 15-30 minutes, and use positive reinforcement and praise.
  4. Offer fluids and snacks: Provide plenty of fluids and snacks to increase the likelihood of needing to use the potty.
  5. Expect accidents: Anticipate accidents and handle them calmly. Clean up promptly and remind your child where the potty is.

The first day is the hardest for both the child and the parent. The child may not want to continue, and you, as the parent, may feel uncertain about the whole process (I sure did)! However, if you stay the course, you’ll be amazed at what happens over the next two days.

*Below I talk about how to approach nap and bedtime training.

Day 2: Reinforcement

The second day of toilet training is about reinforcing what they learned on Day 1 and having faith in them to succeed.

  1. Consistency: Stick to the same routine. Keep your child in underwear and encourage frequent potty trips.
  2. Praise Successes: Celebrate every successful potty trip to reinforce positive behavior.
  3. Addressing Accidents: Stay calm and continue to handle accidents. Encourage your child to help with cleanup to reinforce the concept.
  4. Reinforcement Activities: Consider using books, songs, or videos about potty training to keep your child engaged and interested.

At the start of all three potty training days, I played this video about using the potty for my daughter to help her through the process without pressuring her.

Day 3: Independence and Confidence

The third day is about seeing if they can do it without you asking or taking them so often. Do still ask, but less frequently than you have been.

  1. Encourage Independence: Allow your child to take more initiative by asking them if they need to use the potty instead of taking them every 15-30 minutes.
  2. Positive Reinforcement: Continue to praise your child’s successes and consider offering small rewards such as stickers or treats if desired.
  3. Handling Regression: Be patient and understanding if your child experiences accidents or seems to regress in their progress. This is a normal part of the learning process. Just keep going.

By the end of day 3, my daughter only had about two accidents. One, which was my fault because I forgot to take her to the potty before bed. So always remember to take your child to the potty before bedtime. Besides that I was shocked how well this process worked.

After the 3 Days

After the 3-day potty training boot camp, as some call it, my daughter had two accidents. One on day five and day nine because I forgot to take her to the bathroom before bedtime (again). However, overall, she was doing very well staying dry and listening to her body.

Continue to support and encourage your child. They may still have occasional accidents. It may take longer for your child to stay dry at night. Keep using disposable pee pads at night until your child consistently wakes up dry.

If you must, use pull-ups at night, but it’s best to minimize their use as much as possible.

The 3-day potty training method can be highly effective with dedication and patience. Since each child is different, it’s important to tailor the approach to fit your child’s needs and personality.

Bedtime Potty Training

How to Approach Naptime and Nighttime Potty Training?

Here are some tips for approaching nap time and nighttime potty training:

Nap Time Potty & Nighttime Training:

  1. Pre-Nap & Bedtime Routine: Encourage your child to use the potty before bed as part of their routine.
  2. Use Waterproof Mattress Protectors: Place a waterproof mattress protector under your child’s sheet to protect the mattress from accidents.
  3. Stay Consistent: Praise your child for waking up dry and remaining calm if accidents occur.
  4. Limit Fluids: Gradually reduce your child’s fluids before bed, especially an hour or two before.
  5. Nighttime Waking: If your child consistently wets the bed, consider waking them up once at night to use the potty.
  6. Positive Reinforcement: Praise and reward your child for dry nights.
  7. Patience and Understanding: Recognize that nighttime dryness can take longer to achieve than daytime. Avoid punishment for nighttime accidents.
  8. Encourage Independence: Ensure the potty or toilet is easily accessible, and teach your child to change their pajamas and bed sheets if they have an accident.

Signs Your Child is Ready for Night Time Training:

  • Your child consistently wakes up dry from naps and frequently wakes up dry in the morning.
  • Your child desires to stay dry at night and use the potty.
** In case you were wondering, when I potty trained my daughter, it included naptime and nighttime training, which worked well. Initially, I thought I would have to do it separately, but it all worked out together. 
Potty Training Chart - Should you use them?

Should You Use Reward Systems When Potty Training?

Using a reward system for potty training can effectively motivate and encourage children during the learning process. However, it’s important to implement rewards to foster positive behavior without creating dependency on external incentives. 

Here is a guide on how to effectively use reward systems for potty training:

Benefits of Using Reward Systems

  • Positive Reinforcement: Rewards can reinforce the desired behavior, making children more likely to repeat it.
  • Motivation: Rewards can motivate children who are hesitant or uninterested in potty training.
  • Celebration of Success: Rewards celebrate small achievements, making learning more enjoyable for both the child and the parents.

Types of Rewards

  1. Verbal Praise: Simple and immediate verbal praise, such as “Great job!” or “I’m so proud of you!” can be very effective.
  2. Sticker Chart: Sticker charts can visually track progress. Each time your child uses the potty successfully, they get a sticker, and reaching a certain number of stickers earns a larger reward.
  3. Small Treats: Small, occasional treats like a piece of candy or a favorite snack can be used but should be limited to avoid unhealthy habits.
  4. Tangible Rewards: After achieving specific milestones, small toys, books, or a special outing can be used as rewards.
  5. Extra Privileges: Allowing extra playtime, choosing a movie to watch, or picking a game to play can be motivating.

Implementing Reward Systems

  • Set Clear Goals: Define what behaviors will earn a reward, such as sitting on the potty, using the potty, or staying dry for a certain period.
  • Be Consistent: Ensure that rewards are given consistently and immediately after the desired behavior.
  • Gradual Phasing Out: Gradually reduce the use of rewards as your child becomes more comfortable using the potty, transitioning to intrinsic rewards like pride in their independence.
  • Keep it Positive: Reward successes rather than punish accidents. Positive reinforcement is more effective in encouraging desired behavior.
  • Tailor to Your Child: Choose meaningful and motivating rewards for your child. What works for one child might not work for another.

Potential Drawbacks and Considerations

  1. Dependency on Rewards: Over-reliance on rewards can lead to a child expecting rewards for all behaviors, not just potty training.
  2. Equity and Fairness: If you have more than one child, ensure that reward systems are fair and equitable to avoid jealousy or competition.
  3. Balancing Rewards: Use rewards to supplement, not replace, intrinsic motivation. Please encourage your child to feel proud of their achievements independently of rewards.

Strategies to Avoid Over-Reliance on Rewards

  • Gradual Transition: Slowly phase out rewards as your child consistently progresses. Shift the focus to verbal praise and celebrating their independence.
  • Mixing Types of Rewards: Combine tangible rewards with intangible rewards, such as extra playtime or special activities.
  • Encouraging Self-Motivation: To foster intrinsic motivation, talk to your child about the benefits of using the potty, like feeling comfortable and grown-up.

A reward system can be a helpful tool in potty training, providing motivation and reinforcing positive behavior. When used thoughtfully and balanced with intrinsic motivation, rewards can make the potty training process smoother and more enjoyable for both the child and the parents.

The key is to ensure that rewards are meaningful, consistent, and gradually phased out as the child gains confidence and independence.

The Do’s and Don’ts To Potty Training

When it comes to potty training, there are several do’s and don’ts to keep in mind to make the process smoother for both the child and the parents. Here are some general guidelines:

Do’s

  1. Do Wait for Signs of Readiness: Pay attention to your child’s cues and readiness signs before starting potty training. Pushing too early may lead to resistance.
  2. Do Create A Routine: Establish a consistent potty routine, such as after meals or before bedtime, to help your child associate certain times with using the potty.
  3. Do Make it a Positive Experience: Use positive reinforcement, praise, and rewards when your child successfully uses the potty. Positive reinforcement can encourage continued success.
  4. Do Use a Potty Chair: Consider using a potty chair, especially in the early stages. It’s more accessible for toddlers and less intimidating than a regular toilet.
  5. Do Dress for Success: Dress your child in clothing that is easy to remove. This helps them become more independent in managing their clothing when using the potty.
  6. Do Be Patient: Understand that accidents will happen, and potty training takes time. Be patient and avoid expressing frustration, as it can negatively impact the child’s attitude towards training.
  7. Do Involve Your Child: Let your child be a part of the process by allowing them to flush the toilet, wash their hands, or choose their underwear. Involvement can increase their interest.
  8. Do Model Behavior: Sometimes children learn by example. Let them see you or older siblings using the toilet to help them understand the process.

Don’ts

  1. Don’t Force or Pressure: Avoid pressuring your child into using the potty. This can lead to resistance and make the process more challenging.
  2. Don’t Punish for Accidents: Accidents are a normal part of the learning process. Avoid scolding or punishing your child for accidents, as it can create negative associations with potty training.
  3. Don’t Use Fear Tactics: Creating fear or anxiety around potty training can be counterproductive. Keep the atmosphere positive and supportive.
  4. Don’t Compare with Others: Every child is different, and comparing your child’s progress to others can create unnecessary stress. Focus on your child’s individual readiness and pace.
  5. Don’t Rush the Process: Potty training is a developmental milestone that takes time. Rushing the process can lead to setbacks, so be patient and let your child take the lead.
  6. Don’t Use Diapers as a Punishment: Avoid using diapers as a punishment if your child has an accident. This can create confusion and hinder progress.
  7. Don’t Make It A Power Struggle: Potty training should not become a power struggle between parent and child. Keep communication open and supportive.

By following these do’s and don’ts, you can create a positive and supportive environment for your child during the potty training process.

Last Thoughts

Embarking on the three-day potty training journey is a significant milestone for you and your child. It’s a time of growth, learning, and shared triumphs.

Remember, patience and positivity are your best allies during this process. Celebrate the small victories, remain calm during setbacks, and trust that your child will master this new skill at their own pace.

Every child is unique, and what matters most is the loving support and encouragement you provide. Together, you’ll successfully navigate this journey and build a foundation of confidence and independence for your child.

Happy potty training!

Simple Guide to Potty Training in 3 days

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