Potty Training Tips From Two Nanas

My mom and nana hadn’t even been here for 24 hours before they had potty-trained our child. It was like it was no big deal, and right before my eyes, she went from a baby in diapers to a KID who will tell me she needs to go potty, go, and then ask for jelly beans. I’m still in shock.

For quite a while, we’ve been casually approaching the potty training thing. I figured when she was ready it would happen, I bought her a cool potty seat with princesses on it, and some organic jelly beans from Whole Foods (chocolate chips and natural mini marshmallows work well, too). We would ask her occasionally if she wanted to sit on the potty, and afterwards, she got one treat for trying and three if she went. (Pre-kid I would have scoffed at the idea of using treats for potty training. Now I know that it totally works. )

Apparently we weren’t consistent enough about it. I had read things about the 3-day method online, and to be honest, the thought of her running around the house naked with the ability to erm, relieve herself on the rugs made me break into hives. So I decided not to roll with that method, keep it fun and casual, and trust that Liv would tell me when she was ready to really start potty training. 

I didn’t have to.

Because, the nanas aka potty wizards swooped in and made it happen. It just one day!


Potty training tips from two nanas | fitnessista.com | #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips

My nana handed Livi a small wrapped package and when she opened the pack of Minnie Mouse panties, she was ecstatic. She handed them to me and asked me to wash them so she could wear them 🙂

After they were clean (plus some more cute ones that the nanas got her at Target), we’ve been diaper-free ever since (except for nap and bedtime). We’ve even gone on outings and knock on wood, no probs at all. It’s pretty amazing! 

Here are the potty-training tips from my mom and nana since they’ve been through the wringer (seven kids between the two of them + six grandkids).

Potty Training Advice From Two Nanas

Set up a routine. Take them to the potty first thing when they wake up to start the day. They’ll also need to be asked during meals since their little digestive system starts working, mid-morning, before and after nap, mid afternoon and before bed. 

Ask them ALL the time if they have to go potty and give them the opportunity to go. The first day, I’m sure this is why we had no accidents because they may have asked her a thousand times if she needed to go potty. Consistency makes a huge difference.

Commit. Once they’re occasionally going in the potty, give them chance to go in the morning and put them in underwear the rest of the day (except for naptime). Ask them all the time if they need to go, give them lots of liquids, and give them the opportunity to go often throughout the day.

When they’re successful, make it a huge party. I may or may not do the most ridiculous potty dance when we have success. I’m already embarrassed typing this post so I might as well put it all out there. 

When it doesn’t happen, no big deal. You try again later. My mom said today that we need to get a little timer so that if the timer goes off and she hasn’t gone yet, we’ll just try again later. She’s already noticed that it can be a huge delay tactic.

Keep an extra set of clothes and a ziploc bag in the car, just in case. If they have an accident, don’t make them feel badly about it. Just tell them “pee pee goes in the potty” and leave it at that 😉

Things We Did to Help Potty Training Along

Don’t force it. We kept things lighthearted and fun, and never made it feel like it was something she HAD to do. We gave her lots of praise when she wanted to give it a whirl.

Get a potty seat they like. We also have this Baby Bjorn one, but the princess one really got the ball rolling. They also have the little potties that are more convenient for the kids to get to, but I didn’t want something extra to sanitize throughout the day.

It’s been an exciting week over here 🙂 Mamas: any tips or tricks that worked well for you? Please share in the comments! I’ve found that just like switching to her big girl bed, it wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it would be. But then again, the nanas took care of this one 🙂



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  1. Rebecca on May 22, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I love fruit-infused water! Watermelon, strawberries, lemon, lime… Anything works 🙂

    • Rebecca on May 22, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      Whoops! This is not the giveaway post 😉

  2. Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries on May 22, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    So awesome! Go Nanas! 🙂 I will admit, the thought of potty training immediately gives me anxiety and I do NOT look forward to it. This post gives me hope! I think the biggest piece of advice I’ve been given as a whole re: potty training is to not force it. Kids will learn better when they’re ready. Thanks for sharing, Gina!

  3. Amber Schumann on May 22, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    That’s AWESOME news! Congratulations on the milestone!

    I’ve been casually entertaining my daughter’s interest in the potty for several months now (she’ll be two in July). She had a really early interest in sitting on it (the real one, not a trainer), so we gave it a whirl. Whenever she asked, we gladly let her (and yes, I also performed the most goofy potty dance ever–also helped while she was on the potty waiting for “it” to happen. I mean, gotta cater to the stage fright, right??). And she got a sticker when she actually “went”.

    Eventually, I decided to train full-force one weekend. Cute undies (“We don’t want to get Ariel wet!”, timer, stickers, potty seat, the works. In true Baylie fashion, she resisted as soon as we tried to get her to do it. Potty regression….

    And that’s where we stand now. I’m thinkin this weekend I may up the ante with candy instead of stickers.

    • Josephine on February 9, 2017 at 6:49 am

      That’s how my daughter is. I’ve let her be in chargeof it.. this second time she was almost fully potty trained & then got sick with rsv & strep right after so she was not in the mindset or mood to try pottying and resisted everytime we tried. So we are basically back to square one! 🙁

  4. Ashley on May 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    One thing to keep in mind… once your sweet little girl has been consistent for a while, lay off the asking. I didn’t do this with my daughter and it toooooootally backfired. She began to feel like the potty wasn’t in her control (which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is a toddler’s M.O. Heard “I do it myself” lately? :)) so she started having accidents again after a few weeks of doing great. So I started only asking before we left the house and when she was dancing around, and left the rest to her. She’s been good ever since! Just wanted to share something I learned the hard way!

    • Lynn on June 26, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      Yes! This happened to my friend’s four year old. He still has to be told to go to the bathroom or he will have an accident.

  5. April on May 22, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Thankfully my oldest son was really easy. He just hated being dirty, so the caca happened first, and he only had accidents when he was sick on that front. He did wet himself more often, but we did elimination communication (we have no carpet and LOTS of cloth diapers scattered around for clean-up). We also live in a warm climate, so running naked was no big deal. Then of course we made up a potty song which always got giggles, and he watched us “go” and not freak out.

    So that part of it for him was easy. We still struggle with overnights (he’s 4) since he regressed after we moved, he started school, and we brought a baby brother home…

    Our biggest issue was public toilets. He did not want to use them. He was terrified. But, since he’s a boy, it was easy to go outside if we absolutely had to, and we could be discreet about it.

    Our little one is now nearly 7 months, and we have successfully gotten two “hits” with him. I’m not forcing anything and we don’t really have much of a schedule, but he’s happy to sit when I take him, so we just want him to be comfortable on a toilet. This is a pretty common thing to do in a lot of countries, so I hope I’m not the only crazy mom out there working on toileting her infant. 🙂

    • Megan on February 26, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      My daughter was 13 months when i started putting her on the toilet. Shes 15 months now and pretty much potty trained. Although a lot of mothers i talked to about it said she was WAYY too young to understand but i just thought since she was walking at nine months i didn’t want to hold her back from growing up. I’m so proud of her and glad i started when i did. I didn’t push it at all and she progressed at a speed that suited her. Potty training in three days seems odd. Why all the sudden rush?? I live by the philosophy that the time will pass anyway, whether it takes 3 days, two weeks, or two months. Thanks for sharing about potty training early. I was starting to think i was the only crazy mom out there who wanted to start asap.

    • Kort on November 29, 2018 at 11:25 pm

      You’re not! I have a 19MO that I’ve been taking to the potty since she could walk. It’s helped make her feel comfortable sitting on the big potty & not be afraid. She’s not potty trained yet, I think I had a chance and missed the opportunity around 15MO. But that’s ok! She’s interested so We are about to commit & work on her being fully trained hopefully by 2. Baby #2 is on the way, so that would be excellent if she’s out of diapers by time 2nd is born!

  6. Valerie on May 22, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Livi is so lucky to have two wonderful nanas! I have made a passive start to potty training, like you, but we have committed to a school in the fall that requires kids to be potty trained so I am thinking it needs to happen sooner rather than later. Thanks for the tips!

  7. Laura B @ FitMamaLove on May 22, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Yay for no more diapers! These are all really great tips. The only thing I’ll add is that this will only work if your kid is ready!

  8. Crystal on May 22, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Moms and Grandmas always have the best advice imo! So glad it’s going well so far 🙂

  9. Jackie on May 22, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Congrats to liv!

  10. Kristen on May 22, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    That’s such a big step! Go Livi go, no pun intended 😉

    I think these are great tips. My only two cents to add is, as someone mentioned above, all the tricks in the world will not work if the child is just not ready. I don’t want other parents or caretakers to get discouraged when they can’t find that “magic trick” that works. Some kids potty train before the age of one and some not until much much later. As much of a pain in the ass that may be for the adults involved, it’s not fair to the child to be pushed if he/she isn’t ready. Patience is key (easier said than done, I know).

  11. Michele C on May 22, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Yayyyyyyyyyyy Liv! Accidents do happen and it’s totally fine! Levi has been in underwear since the week after his 2nd bday (December 19) and unfortunately he still has accidents. Not everyday, and sometimes he’ll go a week or two but it happens. We started with the ‘POTTY WATCH’ look on amazon! You can set the timer to go off I think every 10,15,20 minutes. And it’s fun for them to wear a cute little watch that happens to be shaped like a potty. Lol. It was $9.99 and well worth it! Give her kisses for us and tell her we’re soooooo proud! Miss you guys!

  12. Sandra Laflamme on May 22, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Congrats! It’s a whole new world once you leave the diapers behind! We used sticker charting and went cold turkey and right into big kid undies which both of my kids loved. This is such a helpful post for all moms and dads setting out on the potty training adventure!

  13. Alycia on May 22, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Way to go nanas! My sons daycare did the majority of his potty training. I was very grateful! One easy tip for boys is have them “aim” for a Cheerio.

  14. Michelle on May 22, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Consistency is key! I never used pull ups (except while sleeping) right to underwear (which we made a special trip to Target and let him pick them out himself. He got Mickey so I told him that he needed to keep Mickey nice and dry) and never looked back! I used treats as well, whatever works, right! I also used bribery, the first day my son had an accident by going #2 in his pants, no biggie just told him that he shouldn’t do that in his underwear. Day 2 he came running up to me asking me for a diaper, I asked why? And he was almost crying asking for a diapee. I told him he needs to go poopy in the potty, “nononono” was his response. I told him he could have Mac & Cheese for dinner -a rare thing at our house- if he did it in the potty. He went and we haven’t had an issue since. But that summer he realized he could pee where ever he was when outside so it seemed like every time I turned my back, there he was with his pants down to his knees and his short up over his belly peeing. Our neighbors got some good views that summer!

    • Rebecca Meier on May 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Haha, that is too funny!

  15. Krystle on May 22, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Re: potty parties… For 3 days everyone in the house had party hats and kazoos. Every time she went we put our party hats on and made a huge deal out of it! Totally worked!

    • Rebecca Meier on May 23, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      That is a smart idea! I’m thinking of doing the 3-day potty training method on our son (he turned 2 in Feb) and my best friend used it with both of her boys, said it worked like a charm. But I like the idea of making a party out of every successful potty trip, makes it more “fun” too I bet 🙂

      • Fitnessista on May 23, 2014 at 5:56 pm

        i love that idea, too!!

  16. Shaina on May 23, 2014 at 2:59 am

    Are they still in town? Do they want to come to my house?! I’m praying we can make this happen in the next 10 weeks. :-/

  17. Brittany on May 23, 2014 at 7:20 am

    That is amazing! My brother potty trained me! We would go in the bathroom and he would sit on the toilet and I would sit on the small plastic potty and we would have juice together and we would laugh and talk for a long time and then I would stand up and, the rest is history!

    When my nephew was potty training, his potty seat had Elmo on it. Every time he had to go… erm… #2, He would casually say “Elmo”. We would all start yelling “Elmo! Elmo!” as my sister in law rushed to bring him to the bathroom! It was so funny!

  18. heather on May 23, 2014 at 10:12 am

    I totally agree with putting them in real underwear and sticking with it. If you keep them in the training pants they can’t feel the pee as much and will just keep using it like a diaper. We learned that little tip form my oldest daughter’s lead teacher when she was two. Sue had 5 kids (maybe 6) of her own, then spent years working in childcare. She was a potty training wizard. Sadie had been using it some, but like you, we weren’t in a rush. But one day Sue told us she thought Sadie was ready and asked us to send her in regular panties the next day with extra clothes. Sue totally didn’t mind if there were accidents. Sadie peed in her panties one time, didn’t like the feeling of being all wet and having to change her clothes. From that day on we were done with pull ups! Feeling the wetness helps. They don’t like it and will avoid it.

  19. Amber / Caleigh's Kitchen on May 23, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Thank you thank you thank you! We’ve been taking the same approach you were with our little one. I just haven’t committed to it because I figure when she’s ready we’ll know. I just need to do it.

  20. Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family on May 23, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    HILARIOUS. My MIL has been here the last week and totally took over potty-training Emmalyne and I have to say that she did ALL of the same things! Have to admit I was happy to pass the buck on this one …. and crossing my fingers she will ultimately potty train Bryn too haha.

  21. Karlee on May 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    My mom said when she started potty training me she would just wake me in the middle of the night and put me on the toilet. She said I didn’t even wake up haha. I think she had to do it for awhile because I couldn’t make it through the night! Still can’t : )

  22. Alicia on May 23, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    I just wanted to have that regression is a normal part of the potty training process. It’s normal for children to regress in using the toilet when they are developing other skills. It will come and go and that’s totally fine.
    Before I had a kid I thought that development was a straight line but there are lots of bumps along the way 🙂

  23. Carrie on May 24, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    That is great! She must have been ready! 🙂 We struggled with my daughter and eventually our daycare asked us to just bring her in underwear. That did the trick! A day later she was good to go. We found she wasn’t ashamed to have accidents at home, but she was at school. Another helpful tip was to tell her to go, rather than to ask. This worked after she had gotten the hang of it; she is very headstrong and asking would always result in a “no!!”

  24. Becky on May 27, 2014 at 9:48 am

    I love your Liv posts since they always mirror what’s going on in my house 🙂 Several months ago my son was doing well w/ potty training for about a week (with pull-ups, stickers, candy), but then just like that stopped wanting to go. I didn’t push the issue but he will need to be potty trained for preschool in Sept so I will definitely be trying the underwear tips sometime soon! Thanks everyone!

  25. April on May 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Ok, my Mom is coming to visit in July and now I know what her duty is going to be:)

    • Fitnessista on May 29, 2014 at 11:02 am

      haha yes!

  26. Gena Sanford on October 1, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    I love these tips! Now my only issue with this is, whenever I ask my 2 year old if he needs to potty he gets very upset… I just say ok. No force. .. what to do??

  27. Kristin on October 15, 2014 at 10:14 am

    My mom always tells the story of how I was potty-trained in one day because she bribed me with “fancy underpants.” I desperately wanted to wear the kind with ruffles on the butt apparently and she told me I could if I used the toilet. Motivation! LOL

    • Fitnessista on October 15, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      haha YES! whatever works 🙂

  28. Jess on October 15, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Go nanas! I introduced the potty early before the girls were 1 so they could get used to it, it was just a normal thing. To make things less scary when we were actually training. I was really laid back and gradual, just used the timing thing too but if they didn’t feel like going no biggie. They stopped pooping in their nappy by 18 months and fully potty trained another year (including naps and bedtime). We have had a few regressions at bed time, like right before their baby sister was born, but always just stayed relaxed and made it out to be no big deal.

  29. Stacy on October 15, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Just remember that every kid is different. My oldest was fully trained over a weekend when he was 2 1/2, my daughter is almost 5 and still wears night training pants and has accidents during the day a few times a week. We are on day 3 with my youngest (he will be 3 in January) and is doing great- with pee- the dreaded “my son won’t poop in the toilet” post that I’ve given advice to a hundred times has become my reality.

    What it boils down to is this- applaud their success and be patient in their setbacks. Like everything with a toddler, it is done on their schedule. The more you push and demand, the harder it will be on everyone involved:)

    • Fitnessista on October 15, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      so very true!! i think this worked for us because she was truly ready. we had tinkered with it a couple of times before, and i knew it wasn’t the right time yet.

  30. C on June 2, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    My son loves money so we give him one penny if he goes pee and two for poop he loves adding the pennies to the jar and if he does good all week he gets to go on a special outing like the race track, wrestling, or a baseball game.

  31. christina on July 10, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    We did the 3 day method with underwear on not naked and for 6 weeks it was amazing with my 2.5 year old but then regression started and kept getting worse and worse to the point of putting her back in pull ups. She will go in school but if i ask or tell her at home she immediately gets mad. She will have great days going to the potty all day especially poop and then days where she refuses and poops and pees all day in the pull up. I am at a loss and not sure where to go from here. We do treat and get excited when she choses to go but i don’t make it an issue so just hoping one day she wakes and asks to be in her big girl underwear again. Guess only time will tell. Anybody else have this happen?

    • Fitnessista on July 11, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      liv went through something similar a few months after she was fully potty trained (she would not want to go on the toilet and would go #2 in her diaper during naptime). we just rode it out, kept rewarding with treats, and it went back to normal

  32. tracie on October 11, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I had my oldest daughter port trained at 18 months old……rule 1 pull ups are a waste of money! Rule 2 bribery is always acceptable!

    • Fitnessista on October 11, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      amen to that! we still bribe with chocolate to go #2, and it works haha

  33. Arnie burrows on November 19, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    I’ve been using this same tactic since my daughter turned 14 months and she gets a jelly bean after. Needless to say she gets her f

  34. Prissy on March 4, 2016 at 1:06 am

    I am having difficulty with my son, i have tried the pee pee in the potty song, the telling him what the potty is for, the whole change to big boy underwear, the treats… When i first started i showed him the big boy undies and at first he didnt want them he would cry, now he is ok with them he wears them in the house if i put them on. But if i am not constantly asking him to go pee pee in the potty he will wet himself and he wont tell me. I have tried the morning straight to the potty and he cries, last thing i want to do is make him hate the potty. The only way i have had him pee in the potty successfully is when he sits there with his play tablet.

    I guess i am gonna go try and buy him character undies since he is into cars and paw patrol, follow your advice and cross my fingers !

    • Fitnessista on March 4, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      i hope it works! if not, i would give it a rest and let him have some more time to decide he’s ready.
      good luck!!

  35. alibbh on March 24, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    I’ve been having a hard time with my 4 yr old who refuses to go caca in the toilet. He has been potty trained #1 and has been using underwear all day from almost 2 yrs but can’t get him to finally be fully potty trained. He wears a pull up at night and goes caca about 5-10 minutes after I put him to bed. I’ve tried everything and even took the pull up away but then he held it for 3 days which made him sick. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  36. Myra on April 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    How early is too early and how late is too late? My son is 19 months and I want to try to potty train cause he’s seen both my husband and I go and he seems interested. Giving them treats and buying underwear is a good idea any suggestions on potty seats?

    • Fitnessista on April 10, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      i say just take it easy and see how it goes! i’ve heard boys take longer

  37. Sheryl on July 12, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Awesome! Whatever works for kids should be done! What worked for me and my two kids was guide by Susan Urban “How to make your child love going potty” ( http://www.parental-love.com) It really made my kids love going potty really fast and without drama! I loved the way the author leads you what to do and when to do it! great help

    • Julia on July 14, 2017 at 5:51 am

      Hello Everyone 🙂
      Sheryl, I have just finished reading “How to make your child love going potty” guide and I must say I really like it, they seem like great tips and I can’t wait to start potty training with my son 🙂

    • Corry on July 23, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      I love this guide! The tips are sweet and my daughter loves it! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Olivia on September 2, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      this guide stole my heart! Love it!

  38. Eva on July 27, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    One more recommendation for “How to make your child love going potty” from me! Really great guide 🙂

  39. Trisha on April 6, 2019 at 7:49 am

    I LOVE THOSE IDEAS!!! Me and my husband have been trying to get my daughter Lily to go on the potty. She has recently used it on my rugs! (Our mistake for undies) This is our first but I have twins on the way! I will definitely need those tips and I look forward to helping Lily and the 2 on the way!

    • Carol Mueller on July 16, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      To know if a child is ready, check immediately when they wake in the morning to see if they stayed dry all night. That means their bladder is able to hold urine for a long time. Once training pants are put on, don’t put diapers back on, even at night. That prolongs the process and says it’s okay to wet at night, bad idea!

  40. Shalona London on January 23, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    Having your mom and your nana potty train your little in such little time . . . That’s amazing!! These are really good tips!! The main things that helped us the most was waiting until our lil one was ready and using a training potty.

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