Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Can you potty train in 3 days?

So we did it... and lived to tell the tale! We went from having never even tried without nappies or sat on the potty to fully using the potty or loo for all wees/poops in 3 (well actually nearer 2) days – yes… three day potty training really *does* work :)

There seem to be an endless number of "best ways" to potty train but I say go with what you think sounds do-able for your family. I had 3 days off work midweek so could dedicate that time to D whilst Iz was in nursery and so the plan for us was always to go nappy cold turkey and crack it (I was hoping!!) in 3 days. But some people prefer a slower approach and that's fine too.

Anyway here is D's story... 


So best laid plans and all that. I'd earmarked Monday-Wednesday as our 3 days as then I could focus on D whilst Iz was out of the house all day. But he had other plans and woke up on Saturday morning demanding "big boy pants". Obviously this was the weekend that Mr MFDS was away for both days and I was home alone with D and Iz (who was typically teething, cranky and just wanted to be cuddled all day long!!). But anyway I didn't want to discourage him so I just went with the challenge!


I can't remember who's method this is, or if it has a name or what. I just remember some mums discussing it on a baby forum and thought ok that sounds like the way I'd like to do it. The basic rules were:
  1. cold turkey nappies off all day and night
  2. stick by your child's side ALL day long (if you're more than 2 metres away you're too far) and watch them non-stop (if you're checking your phone then you're not paying enough attention apparently...)
  3. don't put them on the potty on a schedule and don't ask if they need to go, just keep reminding them "don't forget when you need to wee/poop tell mummy so we can run to the potty" and remind them of this non-stop
  4. praise them a lot
I stuck to some of the rules but adjusted a few too. We did go nappy cold turkey but I still put one on D at night and for his afternoon nap. I clearly couldn't be attached to him 24/7 as I also had a cranky baby to placate but I tried to prioritise him as much as possible and was as vigilant as possible. But I was very strict about doing the "remember to tell me" speech and repeated it ad nauseum. Literally every 10 minutes on the first day! I think it gives them some sort of control rather than you constantly pestering them "do you need to go now? Are you sure you don't? Is a wee coming?" etc etc. And I praised him a lot - even when there was a massive wee puddle on the floor and he only managed a tiny dribble in the potty... he still got big claps and a sticker.

So what actually happened?

Day 1

By lunchtime he'd had 7 wees. On the floor, in the highchair, in the garden - basically anywhere except the potty. He often didn't even seem to realise what was happening until it was too late. Most times he did manage to still pass a tiny bit in the potty so I gave him lots of praise even though inside I was crying! Then just before lunch he pooped in the potty - amazing!! My hope and faith was restored. The afternoon was better with only 2 wees on the floor - this was mainly because he's realised he got chocolate if he pooped in the potty and so kept trying to poop, which resulted in bonus potty-based wees!

Day 2

A new day and a new start! By lunchtime we'd had 6 wees but 2 were completely in potty, 3 had a tiny bit in pants but most in potty and only one was more 50/50. Even better in the afternoon with 1 fully in potty and 2 mostly in potty. Anyone else surprised at how many wees toddlers do a day?! I definitely was!!

Day 3

Even more amazing – D’s nappy in the morning was nearly dry. Normally his nappies are so full in the morning they leak everywhere so this really was amazing :) This day he only did 2 wees the whole morning (both in potty) which kept me pretty nervous as I kept waiting for the next one to come! He also did a big potty wee pre-nap and one immediately post-nap – so pleased with how quickly he learnt to hold his wee for longer periods and recognise the feeling of when he needed to go. We did nearly have a poop incident but luckily I recognised his pooping face and whisked him to the potty just in time! Lol.

Day 4

Again his overnight nappy was only a little damp on waking and he asked for a wee as soon as he woke up. No accidents all day :)

Day 5

On this day I tried not to talk about the potty a lot and didn’t remind him as much to tell me when he needed to go. I was so proud when he ran to the potty for a wee and poop completely unprompted :)


From day 6 D was back at nursery and to be honest I was a bit sceptical about how it was going to go. I was obviously hopeful that he was going to carry on the same but was also well aware that there are way more distractions at nursery, more exciting things happening etc etc. On the first day back he had diarrhoea (poor D!) so that was probably a bad day to judge anything on. But after that he did amazing – no real accidents, just sometimes a tiny damp patch in his pants before he managed to hold it til the potty and pretty soon even those had stopped.

Pretty painfree huh?

So proud!

What rewards do we use?

This is one area that I'd say think quite carefully about - you'll see why in a minute! We used a combination of stickers, chocolate and small presents (mostly from Poundland). Every time D did a wee (or part of one) in the potty he got a sticker. Each day we made a new “background” and had different themed stickers (eg pirates, dinosaurs, aliens) and D gradually built-up a picture throughout the day. If he pooped on the potty (the whole thing in the potty) then he got a small Frozen chocolate bar (also from Poundland) – he loves Frozen! And then at the end of the day, or sometimes at random other times if I felt he needed a bit of encouragement, he got small presents, which doubled up as activities we could do together whilst tied to the house – eg new painting brushes, a stamping set, animal shapes to colour in, bottle of bubbles.

His sticker reward pictures from days 1-4 :)

A warning – D did go through a 24 hour phase of trying to poop all the time just so he earned more chocolate… After that we quickly established ground rules that only proper sized poops got chocolate, small ones did not!
The first Frozen chocolate bar he won!
Some top tips:
  • don't start when you're also looking after a baby, especially if they're teething and cranky
  • make sure you have enough milk and bread in the house as once you start you can’t really leave for at least 48 hours… (thank you to my brother who did an emergency shop for me!)
  • think carefully before you bribe with chocolate!
  • visit Poundland for cheap treats
  • don't keep asking if they need to go, just remind them to let you know when they want to
  • have a stinky song you can sing (either while waiting for one, or afterwards – you can choose!) - something to distract them and/or encourage them
  • don't bother with trousers for the 3 days. You're only at home so just stick with pants as it is one less layer to remove
  • stock up on pants from somewhere like Primark or Asda. Firstly you need at least 12 pairs and if they're cheap and a particularly nasty accident occurs then you can bin them with a clear conscience!
  • buy a potty with a removal insert. Waaaaay easier to clean one like that. Trust me.
  • choose pants that your child will like. Now is not the time for subtle colour coordinating with outfits. This is the time for brightly coloured Peppa pants or dinosaur pants. Or in our case minion ones - if your toddler wants to wear the pants then that's 90% of the job done!

Hmmm maybe Iz is not that helpful to have around... ;)

Final thoughts:
  1. Have a few stock phrases for when they think they need the potty but nothing happens… you definitely don’t want to discourage them so I said things like "maybe stinky's not ready yet" and "maybe he'll come in a few minutes" as I didn’t want to deter him from going back to the potty a few minutes later if he needed to
  2. At the moment D nearly always needs a wee now once he's in bed and supposed to be going to sleep. Although some will say it’s a stalling tactic, we're just rolling with it for now as it is true, he does, and we want to encourage him to tell us and definitely don’t want him to think it’s ok to lounge around in a damp nappy anymore
  3. There are a few times I am more "directive" in my asking about potty use. One is if we're going out somewhere (in which case it is compulsory trying-to-do-a-wee first) or if he's dancing around the room clutching himself - then I figure he needs a gentle reminder! Lol. 

Yep it's your turn next my little minion...

Have you potty trained yet? Did you try it in 3 days or do something else? Feel free to share any other top tips below :)


Disclaimer: this is probably not the right method if you are very mess-averse and the thought of wee on your floor gives you the heebeejeebees. Use your own judgement to decide what you can realistically cope with ;)


  1. Hi Lucinda... its been a while, but thought I would catch up on your blog. This sounds very impressive. I am really not desperate to get onto the potty training thing, but know we need to!

    1. Awww how are you guys?? I was really dreading potty training but it was actually so much better than I had imagined. Definitely think it paid off waiting til he was that little bit older as he got it so quick. Fingers crossed Chiplet is the same!! :)