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Here are the Essentials You Need for Potty Training

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

Inside: Want a checklist of essentials for potty training? Here's an Oh Crap Potty Training checklist for you.

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When I was searching for a yearly planner (yep, still carry around a paper planner!), I looked for two things.

Could I make to-do lists on the sides? Did it make me happy to look at daily?

I found my perfect planner (hoping I can find the same design next year), and it’s so far kept me on track for the year with my never-ending lists. Without my lists, I’d be lost.

Whatever way you keep your old school planner, the Notes app on your phone, voice reminders from Alexa...there are countless things to check off, keep track of, and remember to do.

We’re mamas, after all.

So what would a list for potty training look like?

What are the essentials you need with potty training?

Like the lists I jot down in my planner, the complete list for potty training includes more than just things to buy.

It’s also about reminders of what to do and not to do.

What’s the mindset you need for potty training? And what are oh-so-helpful supplies you want for your potty training journey? Here’s your go-to list..

Here are the essentials you need for potty training

1. Confidence

I've talked about *being sure* in another post. But it's a big one. Potty training tends to unravel when there are so many doubts and the mom feels unsure if it's the right time, or if they should wait, or what about the upcoming trip, or what if this or what if that.

Confidence in yourself and confidence in your child.. that's the magic starting point.

When you step into potty training, feeling unsure will show...toddlers can read us like books. So have a plan!

2. Small potty

Most kids needs the small potty (here's one with a high back) in the beginning stages of potty training. Some toddlers prefer it for a long while. It's easier for your child to poop in the small potty, because they're in more of a squatting position than sitting on the big toilet with an insert. (A two-step stool can help your child be in a better poop position for the toilet.) The squatting position is a naturally easier way to poop than sitting.

Also you'll need a small potty in your toddler's room for potty training at night.

3. Toilet insert

You will want your child to get comfortable sitting on big toilets, and for a while, a toilet insert will make it *so* much easier for your child. No risk of sinking in the big toilet! And younger (or smaller) toddlers will not be able to balance themselves on the toilet easily without a potty insert.

Related: Here's my favorite children's potty book for getting toddlers to be more brave around trying new toilets, being out in public bathrooms...tapping into their ninja potty powers.

4. Travel potty

Everyone needs a travel potty.

City mamas.

Country mamas.

Mamas who live in the suburbs.

No matter where you live, you want a travel potty.

If you live in a city, a travel potty will definitely help while you're out and about with your toddler

No matter how long it takes a child to be potty trained, there's a transition to being newly potty trained. Holding and consolidating is a part of the potty training process and your kiddo won't be able to hold their pee until you can find or get to a bathroom.

We keep ours in the car in our wet/dry pouch, though it can even fit in my backpack.

You can also stash yours under your stroller.

It's literally the best $20 that I spent when potty training my own kids.

I like to add the silicone liner to our favorite travel potty (since it's way more comfortable than peeing in crinkly plastic liners.)

5. Wet/dry pouch with extra clothes

When you start going out in the world with your diaper-free child, you want to feel prepared. Pack one wet/dry pouch with a change or two of clothes for your toddler and just keep it in your bag or in your car (that way you don't have to repack to save time.)

Related: I find this just-in-case pouch of extra clothes is a perfect place to use any gifted clothes that are not quite your style or your child's favorite picks, but you don't want to give away. Back-up clothes!

Get around by car? Be sure to pack your travel potty.

6. Go From Bottomless to Commando to Undies

You can thank Jamie Glowacki of Oh Crap Potty Training, for bringing commando into the mainstream of potty training.

But first, in Block One you want to start bottomless so that while the child is becoming aware of peeing, you can catch some pees midstream.

If you take away the diapers and go straight to underwear, your child will pee likely through many pants while learning what that pee sensation *feels* like and how to do this whole pee-in-the-potty thing.

Why commando? If you add in undies right after a few days of potty training, you're more likely to see accidents. Undies feel snug, just like a diaper, and the child has that natural muscle memory of peeing/pooping in a snug diaper.

7. Cloth Training Pants

Once you add in undies, I recommend the cloth training pants rather than the thin undies you'll find in mass retailers for toddlers. Cloth training pants can handle a *dribble* without soaking through to the pants. They're super helpful in the early potty training months. They are a must-have in my book for when you start potty training at night.

8. Time

We all want more of it. I've jotted down *organize my digital photos for real* on my to-do list for 5 years. I'm still waiting on that free week to magically appear. And it just doesn't!

You might be thinking of potty training in terms of how it relates to you.

No more poopy diapers!

No more last-minute runs to buy diapers!

Meet requirements for preschool!

The reminder here is that potty training is a huge milestone for your child.

For your toddler, toilet learning is literally a game-changer with their inner core confidence.

It's the biggest *big-kid* thing a child does during this part of their childhood.

Don't keep the same schedule of classes when you start potty training. Outings should be unscheduled and low-key.

Take the time to clear your schedule so you have a few days to focus on teaching your child this big new skill. No one ever said, "Wow that was a waste of time potty training my toddler."

9. Skip the classes

Do you find it's easy to learn something when there's obvious pressure put on you?

Neither does your 2-year-old.

All those many classes your toddler is enrolled will be there in a week. If you're rushing to get to music class, or you're wondering if your child will poop in their swim diaper, these are all high-pressure bits of anxiety that can take you off course with potty training.

If you're looking for an out-of-house outing in those early days, stick to activities where you can roll in or roll out anytime, like storytime at the library.

10. Skip the Facebook share

While we're talking things you don't need to potty train your toddler, here's another..

Don't do the Facebook announcement that you're about to start potty training.

By posting on Facebook, you'll get a slew of comments sharing horror stories, sharing what you *should* do, and basically it's the easiest way to lose your way.

You are the expert on your child.

When you're ready to start potty training, use your close friends or mom's group as support (or of course, I'm here if you want one-on-one potty training support). You want to dive in to the process feeling positive.

When you start potty training, put the phone on airplane mode. If you're scrolling Facebook, you can miss a pee!

11. Unplug for a couple days

It's so super hard to put down the phone. We all feel naked without our portal into everything. And sometimes you just want to tune out and check out what's on Instagram. That being said, in those first couple days, you really need to be observing your child.

The pee will come in a matter of seconds!

If you're half watching your child because you're also scrolling your phone, your reaction time will be too slow to help your child to the potty. Also, potty training is a great time to unplug, slow down, and really team up with your child to teach them this big new skill.

You'll discover the coolest things about your child that you've missed since the days when you were constantly watching/playing with your little babe.

Is potty training always a smooth and easy process? Nope, definitely not saying that.

But it's easiest to do when you take a few days, tune out the noise, and focus on your kiddo.

12. Keep your child hydrated

In those early days of potty training, if your child is not hydrated, it will be that much harder to successfully catch some pees in the potty.

Besides the obvious (water), I love making popsicles for the early days of potty training.

If your child is rejecting drinking, try out different temperatures (like adding ice), and keep in mind watery fruits like watermelon and navel oranges help, too.

Watermelon has a lot of water content, making it a helpful snack for your toddler staying hydrated.

13. Silly potty books to read

You'll want a few potty books to keep in the bathroom to read in those early days when your child may seem to be sitting on the potty forever. Silly books that bring on a giggle keep the mood light and help that sphincter muscle with releasing pee/poop in the potty.

14. Coconut smoothie

Full-fats foods are great for helping the poops stay soft and move along, which you want especially when you start potty training. Be sure to use the full-fat coconut milk in a can.

15. Finding the magic window

In Oh Crap Potty Training, we talk about when a child is *capable* for the best potty training age. Generally speaking, children are capable of potty training between 20 - 30 months.

That's based on the ideal developmental window for when it's easiest to potty train a toddler.

16. Team up with your child

There are no potty lollipops or magical bribes with Oh Crap Potty Training. It's about teaching your child to learn how to use the potty. (And solutions for what happens when you go diaper-free and it doesn't go smoothly!)

It's also about teaming up with your child.

It's you and your toddler against the pee!

Not you against your child (the child who isn't peeing on command.)

When your child feels that you're on the same team, that's when the process works. Potty power battles tend to escalate if you don't make a change.

Here's a little recap! Things you need (and don't need) to potty train your toddler.

Things you need (and don't need) for potty training your child

Oh and be sure to jot this down on your potty training planning list:

You've got this!

Illustrations: Citrus and Mint Designs


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