How to Prepare for Potty Training Boys & Girls

Potty training is a wonderful milestone that all toddlers have to face at some point in their lives, but it’s not as bad as you may be thinking. 

I assume you’re reading this article because you’re either thinking about starting potty training or you’ve just begun and looking for more info during the process.

Either way, you’ve come to the right place!

The number one thing I have learned from potty training my son and daughter is that preparation is EVERYTHING!

When I had first started potty training my son as a new mom, preparation for myself, is what I lacked.

I asked other moms for advice on how to potty train a boy, but not on what I should expect for myself during the process.

Now that I have experience potty training a boy and a girl, and have coached several parents on this topic, I want to share tips on how you can prepare for potty training your boy or girl.

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Related Post: Is Potty Training Boys Harder Than Potty Training Girls?

Just as an FYI, this article is really long, but it’s packed with relevant info you will need to know for your potty training journey. 

Let’s jump into it!

Preparation for Potty Training Boys & Girls

Prepare Your Mind:

OMG, I wish someone would have told me how much mental preparation you need for potty training!

You mentally have to prepare yourself before you actually start so that you have realistic expectations. Writing your goals for potty training is really important.

For example, do you want to start potty training your child early so that you don’t have to think about it later, or do you want to start once your child is showing signs of readiness?

Things to Consider While Writing Your Potty Training Goals:

  • When should you start?
  • Do you want your child to use diapers/pull-up, stay naked , or use underwear?
  • Do you want your child potty trained over a short period of time (like the 1-3 day potty training method) or a more gradual approach?
  • Will you be able to take off work during this time or will you use your weekend(s)/holiday time?
  • Who will be doing the potty training and will the majority of it be done at home or with a caregiver?
  • Will you use rewards as motivation and if so, will you use food, reward charts, toys, etc.?

These are just a few goals to consider before you start potty training. It may not seem like a big deal right now, but trust that you will be extremely glad you planned ahead!

Things to Mentally Prepare for With Potty Training:

  • Patience is required at all times

This may seem obvious, but if you’re in the heat of the moment while an accident occurs, the last thing you’re going to want to do is have patience. 

For example, let’s say, just as you were putting your child on the potty she poops on the bathroom floor.  Are you still going to keep your patience?

Or maybe your child just went to the potty and peed but five minutes later, she pees all over the floor that you just finished cleaning. How’s your patience at this point?

Those are just a couple of scenarios you may experience while potty training your child, but the main thing is to remember that potty training is a process and patience during this process is always required.

I had to learn this myself when I first began the potty training process a few years ago!

If your child sees you get upset frequently over an accident, it will likely discourage him from wanting to continue the process.

  • Accidents will happen 

I’m sure at this point you have pictured from the scenarios above, that accidents will happen, A LOT.

But before I began to potty train my son when I was a first-time mom, I read a few articles that said “there will be accidents,” but I didn’t know to what extent.

The main thing to know about accidents is even if your child is what you may consider “fully potty trained” he/she will still have accidents.

Hopefully it will be less frequent, but it will still occur – especially if your child is in the middle of playing.

I have learned from experience that it is extremely important to keep your cool when a accident occurs.

If your child feels even the slightest of disappointment/anger from you, he will feel discouraged and that may cause regression – going back to the original state before being potty trained.

Regression can also occur from a huge transition that your child may go through. For example, going to daycare/preschool, having a new sibling, moving to a new home, etc.

All of these events could cause your child to revert back to peeing and pooing on themselves. That is why planning your potty training start date is so important. 

  • Accept the process

As you know, all kids have their own uniqueness about them. Some kids are more “go with the flow” while others are very structured and need a tight routine.

When it comes to potty training boys and girls, there are some differences I have noticed from my kiddos and others, from helping other moms with potty training.

Here’s a list of differences you may encounter with potty training boys and girls from my personal observations.

Regardless of how fast or slow someone else’s child has been potty trained, don’t get caught in the comparison game.

Potty training is a huge milestone and some kids my get the hang of it quicker than others but ultimately, that really doesn’t matter.

Just prepare yourself to accept the process your child is taking. Your child may catch on quickly or he may take longer than you expected.

Either way, accept the uniqueness your child brings to potty training. 

  • Consistency is a must

I’m sure you’ve heard “consistency is key!” Being consistent is a very important part of potty training but it can also backfire if you’re not careful. 

Being consistent in potty training doesn’t mean forcing your child to go to the potty when she is in an hysterical state of mind.

This will only cause resistance to toilet training and may even result in a ongoing battle to get your child potty trained. I will discuss how you can avoid this in another section. 

It’s important to be consistent with the method of potty training you choose. Things like only starting with underwear, no clothing at all, or pull-ups.

Whichever route you decide to choose, stick with it so that your child isn’t confused with the process.

Prepare Your Child:

Just as you need mental preparation for potty training, so does your child. I like to call this ‘Begin before you start.’ It sounds funny but it’s so true!

When you’ve established a goal of when you want to start potty training, prepare your child at least 2-4 weeks prior to actually starting the process.

It’s important that your child gets accustomed to everything before you start so that you reduce struggles.

Ways You Can Prepare Your Child for Potty Training:

  • Allow your child to go in the bathroom with you so she can see what you are doing, and explain what is happening at each step. For boys, if possible, have him go in with dad or a male family member (grandpa, uncle, brother, etc.) that you trust.
  • Normalize pee and especially, poop talk. Some kids feel ashamed to poop or are fearful about it because they don’t fully understand what’s happening. That is why most toddlers will hide to poop in their diaper/underwear during the potty training process.
  • Buy all potty supplies with your child. Even if you buy it online, allow your child point to which items he likes. I’ll go further into this in the last point.
  • Read potty training books for kids. Once you continue to read potty training books together, your child will begin to pick up on what’s happening and may become curious on trying it out.

Here’s a List of Potty Training Books for Kids:

P is For Potty!

Potty

The Potty Train

Everybody Potties

A Potty For Me!

The Potty Book for Girls

Girls’ Potty Time

Big Girl Panties

Big Boy Underpants

Boys’ Potty Time

  • Watch potty training shows with your child. If you allow your child to see another child/cartoon character potty train, it will likely peek their interest by giving them a visual of what’s to come.

List of Potty Training Shows You Can Watch With Your Child:

Sesame Street – Elmo’s Potty Time

Once Upon a Potty for Her

Potty Power – For Boys & Girls

Go Potty Go!: Potty Training For Tiny Toddlers

Potty Training for Toddlers

Elmo’s Potty Time

Potty Training for Boys & Girls

Establish Healthy Eating Habits for Your Child:

Before you begin potty training, it is important to establish healthy eating habits so that your child can avoid constipation issues.

Learn how to get your child to eat more veggies

Making sure your child is eating daily from the 5 food groups, will insure he/she is getting the fiber needed for a healthy diet.

Fiber is a natural laxative that helps keep our intestines flowing, which promotes regular bowl movements. This is crucial during the potty training process!

Buy Potty Training Supplies With Your Child:

There are a few things you will need before you start potty training that will make your life so much easier during the process.

I wish I knew about half of these things when I first started! 

Once you decide to buy your potty training supplies, involve your little one so that he/she can see what you are getting for them.

List of Potty Training Supplies:

Potty Seat – You will need to pick out a potty seat for your home, one for travel, and one for public restrooms.

I personally prefer the potty seat that goes on top of the toilet vs. the one that goes on the floor.

The floor potty seat requires you to dump pee and poop every time your child goes, and I’m all about keeping things simple, so I wouldn’t recommend you start out with it (unless, you’re OK with that!)

The toilet potty seat is the best way to go (in my opinion), because it teaches your child to accept the real thing from the beginning, and it helps your child to not be afraid of the “big toilet” especially in public restrooms.

For example, I have had several moms mention how their kiddos were afraid of the public restrooms because they didn’t like the sound of the public toilet.

I potty trained both of my kiddos (boy & girl) from the beginning with a potty insert, and they have never had issues with being afraid of public restrooms.

For the car potty seat, I do use the potty chair. If you are anything like me, and like to avoid public restroom germs whenever you can, then using the chair potty seat will be a life saver for awhile!

My daughter will be 3 years old soon and we still use it for traveling.

To avoid a huge clean up while in the car, I use potty bags to put at the bottom of the potty seat to catch pee and poop.

Or if I don’t have any potty bags on hand, I use grocery bags, which I’m sure everyone has laying around the house somewhere.

They really come in handy while potty training on the go! We have the Fisher-Price Stepstool Potty, Royal potty chair. 

Now sometimes, you may not be able to make it to the car to put your child on the potty, especially if you’re at the grocery store or mall.

So what do you do? Well, they actually have Reusable Folding Portable Potty Seats on Amazon!

It’s amazing what people come up with these days!

The Reusable Folding Portable Potty Seat is perfect to use for public restrooms if you have a boy or girl. I love that it comes with a storage bag for you to carry it in and how easy it is to use while on the go.

You can read more about it here.

Toilet Cover – Before you use a Reusable Folding Portable Potty Seat, you’re going to want to use a toilet cover!

This toilet cover has been a life saver for us with public restrooms. It prevents my kiddos from touching nasty public restroom toilets while they are holding the sides of the toilet.

So you would first want to lay this potty cover down and then put your folding potty seat on top. 

The one we have is called Potty Cover.

Step Stool – If you are going to use the toilet potty insert, then you will need a step stool.

As I mentioned above, I love the Fisher-Price Stepstool Potty, Royal! Mainly because it’s a 2-in-1 deal.

I use this step stool potty seat in the house to help my daughter on the toilet and hand washing. I also use it in the car when we have to leave the house for awhile.

Car Seat Protector – A car seat protector is a must while potty training on the go. Especially if you are traveling long distances!

Car seat protectors are meant to catch urine or prevent a diaper blow out from ruining your child’s car seat.

It can also be used for a stroller, bouncer, highchair, etc. There are particular brands that offer their own car seat protector, so be sure to research and read reviews before you make your choice.

Potty Training Pants – You may want to try potty training pants, which are meant to be an in-between point from pull-ups to underwear.

I personally have not used these but I do think they are a great alternative to pull-ups (which I used) if you’re trying to save money– because they are washable/reusable. 

They are made with cotton material on the outside and an absorbent pad on the inside.

Although they don’t actually prevent leakage (as mentioned by parents), I personally think it’s a good idea because it allows your child to feel their pee if they have an accident, unlike diapers and pull-ups

These are definitely on my list to try in the future!

Pull-ups – Pull-ups are great practice for underwear because they allow your child to learn how to step into each hole and pull up and down like underwear.

Some people think it’s not a good idea to use pull-ups because the child may get confused by not knowing if they are supposed to stay dry or not.

This is true if you are consistently using pull-ups for daytime potty training. 

From my experience with using pull-ups with my son and daughter, I did not have this problem because I mainly used pull-ups in the very beginning before starting the actual potty training process, during naps (until they began to stay dry), and nighttime.

I always however, had the goal of ditching the pull-ups and never used them in place of underwear during the day.

So, if you’re OK with constantly cleaning accidents off the floor, then you can just start with the potty training pants, underwear, or have your child wear no clothes. 

Had I actually known about the potty training pants when I first began potty training my kiddos, I probably would have used them.

There’s no perfect formula to potty training, so I’ll let you be the judge of which route works best for your situation.

I only used Pampers brand pull-ups because it actually prevented leakage during naps and overnight.

They are called Pampers Easy Ups Training Underwear.

Underwear – As I stated earlier, It would be a good idea to allow your child to pick out their own underwear even if you decide to purchase them online.

Whether you have a boy or girl, they will be so excited you involved them with picking their very first undies, especially if it’s their favorite cartoon character!

There are endless options for boy and girl toddler underwear, but I love the different designs that are available on Amazon.

Sheets – Obviously you will need sheets for your child’s crib/toddler bed/twin bed, but you’re going to need Extra sheets.

I would recommend getting at least three extra sheets because once you start naptime/nighttime potty training, there will be TONS of accidents once your child is out of pull-ups/diapers.

Trust me, you’ll be so thankful you won’t have to live at the washing machine because you planned ahead and kept extra sheets on hand.

Also, if your child skipped the toddler bed and went straight to a twin size bed (my son did), then you will need to get a waterproof mattress cover.  

Timer – Once you are ready to start going full force with potty training, you will definitely need a timer. I used a timer to remind myself and my toddler, it was time for a potty break.

As we all know, many toddlers are strong-willed and (most of the time) they know what they want.

To help prevent struggles about going to the potty, it’s good to refer to the timer as the one letting your toddler know it’s time for a potty break.

I also say things like, “Your BODY is ready for a potty break.” Or “Your BLADDER wants to be emptied. It doesn’t like to be full.”

I would say these things while walking her to the bathroom. Especially during play time!

If you have a really strong-willed child who constantly wants to be in control, you can leave the choice up to him once you mention it’s time for a potty break.

For example, you can say “Looks like you need a potty break. Your potty seat is waiting on you in the bathroom.” Then walk away and leave the choice up to the your child.

Keeping a really tight potty break routine (before breakfast, snack, lunch, leaving the house, getting out of the car, etc.) helps prevent struggles as well.

There is also this super cute potty training watch that sings and lights up every 30, 60, or 90 minutes (whatever time you set it for) to remind your child to go potty.

I really like this idea because it helps your child not feel forced or pressured by the parent to go potty often. Instead, it’s the watch that reminds the child.

Toilet Target for Boys – If you have a boy, you are going to want a toilet target. It’s a sticker decal that goes inside of the toilet to help your little man practice aiming, once he begins to stand.

Boys typically start out sitting on the potty because that is how they learn to poop. But overtime, boys should be guided on how to stand and pee.

Wipes – When you first start potty training, you are NOT going to want to use toilet paper. If you do, you will have a smeared poop mess on your hands.

Start out using wipes and once your child begins to wipe themselves or their poop is firm enough where it doesn’t have a mushy consistency, you can switch to wiping with toilet paper.

You can use flushable wipes or regular wipes. But I must warn you that some of these ‘flushable wipes’ may not really be safe to flush and a lot of parents have complained about having to hire a plumber to unclog their pipes because of them.

Here’s an experiment a dad did with his daughter, comparing different brand wipes to see if they actually dissolve in water.

So if you do choose to use flushable wipes, you can have a grocery bag next to the toilet that is designated for dirty wipes. Then you can throw the bag in a diaper pail.

Or, if you don’t like the idea of putting dirty wipes into the trash, you can make your own homemade flushable wipes to prevent clogging. 

Cleaning Supplies – Since you are preparing for accidents, you will need a few cleaning supplies. I personally try to stay clear of any cleaners with harsh chemicals.

The last thing you want is for your little one to constantly inhale a chemical based cleaner while cleaning up accidents.

I love and use Green Works Multi Surface Cleaner. It has a great smell and it is biodegradable. Amazon has a 3 pack for less than ten bucks!

Continuing with cleaning products, you will need dish liquid soap that has a citrus scent.

I have found that hand soap doesn’t work as well as dish liquid soap to get poop smell off your hands.

Yup! Unfortunately, you (and your little one) will get poop on your hands (and other places) at some point during the potty training process.

I like the Seventh Generation Dish Liquid Soap that has a clementine zest and lemon grass scent.

It’s scented with essential oils and other plant-based ingredients. You can get a 6 pack from Amazon.

Summary:

Before you decide to start potty training:

1. Prepare your mind

2. Prepare you child

3. Establish healthy eating habits

4. Purchase supplies

I hope this article was helpful for you. If you have any questions or want to share your potty training preparation experience, please share in the comments below!

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14 Comments

  1. Great advice! I’m working on potty training my daughter and she’s not making it easy. This tips will definitely help. Thanks for sharing ❤

  2. This list really does have everything. We’re just starting out potty training. I’m going to use some books to help, my soon loves books. Thanks

    1. Hey Lydia! Thank you so much. I wanted to make sure I included everything LOL. Glad you found something helpful for your potty training journey. I pray it all goes well for you and your son. =)

  3. I love this article! I’m in the process of potty training my son. He’s 3 year old now, and I thought we’re done until he started having accidents lately. Now I’m planning to delay it further because we keep moving houses these past few weeks. By June hopefully we can start all over again.

    1. Hey Kris! Moving can definitely play a huge role in regression and would probably be best to restart once you are settled into your new place. I hope all goes well this time around with potty training your son!

      So glad you found these tips helpful =)

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