Steps for Quickly Potty Training Your Kid

Child development experts are increasingly recommending quick potty training

A young boy flushing a toilet
Potty training takes dedication from parents and their children.. PeopleImages.com/Getty Images

Can a child be potty trained in just three days? As parents and child development experts tout a new method to get kids out of diapers over a weekend, others wonder if three-day potty training is too good to be true. Is there really a three-day approach that works?

Several books and experts promote a three-day potty training regimen, but there are a lot of caveats with this method. It's not appropriate to try with every child.

You also need to have realistic expectations. In other words, even if your child is beginning to use the potty after your three-day training, he probably won't be totally independent. You may still need to remind him when to go potty and take him to the bathroom on a regular schedule. Depending on his age, you may also need to continue to help your little one undress and wipe. In short, be prepared for accidents and the need for ongoing support before your child is completely ready to use the potty alone.

Prepare for Potty Boot Camp

Before you start, it's a good idea to read up on a few fast-training methods so you can decide which approach will work best for you and your child. Some sources you can turn to include:

  • "Toilet Training in Less Than A Day" by Nathan Azrin
  • "Potty Train in Three Days" by Lois Kleint 
  • 3 Day Potty Training Program with book and online support

Many of these plans follow the method popularized by San Francisco preschool teacher Julie Fellom.

Her approach includes preparing for three days of diaper-less and pants-less potty training. She also recommends that parents set up multiple portable potties around the house so that there is always a nearby place for children to pee or poop.

Parents keen on trying this approach should consider investing in extra potty chairs as well as in materials that will protect floors or simplify clean up of messes.

Promoters of the three-day potty training approach also recommend that parents have plenty of water or diluted juice on hand. Offer these to children frequently throughout the day to encourage urination. Of course, before diving into this process, parents need to be sure their toddler is ready. The three-day potty training method is best suited for children who are showing strong signs of potty readiness and have good motor skills.

Steps for Quick Potty Training

Once you've determined that this is the best way to go, you need to find a three-day period that you can fully commit to potty training. Plan to spend all your time at home, although you might be able to venture out with your child if she seems to catch on within the first day or two. Cancel play dates, put aside work and plan fuss-free meals for these days so you won't be distracted. Talk to your child about the big day when you'll start potty training. Show her the date on the calendar and count down the days the week before.

Next, get your home ready by setting out the potty chairs and covering any areas that might be hard to clean.

Have towels, mops and other cleaning tools at the ready.

As soon as your child wakes up, remind her that this is "the day." Explain that she's going to say goodbye to diapers and spend three days with no pants until the third day, when she'll graduate to wearing pants without diapers during the day.

For the next few days, your job is to watch your child like a hawk. Every time he behaves as if he's ready to urinate or have a bowel movement, rush him to the potty. There will be messes, but many parents say that accidents are infrequent and often even nonexistent after the second day.

For the approach to work, experts insist that forgoing pants is necessary during the day. You can use diapers or Pull-Ups for naps and nighttime. If your child has started using the potty after three days, don't immediately start using underwear since they fit closely like a diaper and may lead your child to think they are diapers and fine to pee and poop in. Instead, quick potty training advocates recommend having your child wear loose-fitting pants with nothing underneath for the next three months.

Potty Training Success

Don't expect your child to be perfectly potty trained after three days. It's more realistic to think of this training period as a transitional step out of daytime diapers. No matter which method you choose, always keep in mind that potty training is a process. It can take months or even a year for a child to be able to go to the bathroom without a reminder, wipe independently, pull up and down her clothes, flush and wash up.

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