How to Potty Train a Baby

Recently I picked up Diaper-Free Before 3 at the library.  The book advocates a positive, early start to toilet training (ideally between 6-12 months), so that your child can be out of diapers and finished with potty training as early as his or her 2nd birthday. 

This post is Part 3 of my discussion of Diaper-Free Before 3.
Click HERE to read Part 1:  A Brief History of Potty Training.
Click HERE to read Part 2: The Benefits of Early Potty Training.

So how do you practice early potty training?  As it turns out, I have been following Lekovic's method pretty closely without knowing it.  

Below are the three basic phases of early potty training along with my own experience with the relevant phase:

1. Introduce the potty.   Get a potty when you get a high chair (or earlier) and use similar methods to introduce them.  What would you do if your baby cried when you put her in the high chair for the first time?  Begin sitting your baby on the potty chair when she can sit confidently pretty well by herself.  Use a small potty chair (not a potty seat!) like the Baby Bjorn little potty (pictured above left) so her feet touch the ground, which is the correct position for pooping.  Put her on it once or more per day depending on interest.  If nothing else, put your baby on the potty before the bath.  Hopefully, your baby will start using the potty occasionally.     

I started putting my baby on the potty around 9 months. The very first time I put her on the potty, she pooped.  We used a potty seat initially, but switched to a potty chair when my baby lunged off the toilet and hit the floor even with me sitting right in front of her.  So, use the potty chair, folks.

2. Practice.  Take your child to the potty often (as much as every 2 hours or so as part of your routine), as circumstances allow. Try to get the baby out of disposables and into cloth (she recommends training underwear, with or without waterproof cover) by one year of age so she feel when she is peeing.  Change your child immediately whenever possible when she is wet. 

We've used cloth diapers with our second since birth.  I take her to the potty regularly and try to change her quickly when she pees in her diaper.  I always take her to the potty when she wakes up in the morning and after naps and after meals.  I also try to take her before naps, before bedtime, and before and after outings (but often I don't).  She almost always poops in the potty (more than 90% of the time), and pees 2-5 times a day in the potty, depending on how often I sit her on the potty.

3. Good habits.  Eventually, your child is consistently peeing and pooping on the potty and only occasionally has accidents in her underwear.  Continue good toilet habits and you're done!   

We're not quite here yet, although I believe my daughter is ready to be completely trained (she wakes up dry in the morning fairly often).  I'm the one who's not quite ready to commit to taking my toddler to the potty more frequently.

    I really only disagreed with one argument Lekovic made in Diaper-Free Before 3She suggests that cloth diapers are too inconvenient to use during baby's first year, and recommends switching to cloth (underwear) around one year of age.  I used disposables with my first until one year, and cloth with my second since birth, and I liked cloth lots more.  You can read more about my experience with cloth diapers HERE.

    If you are interested in early potty training, I suggest checking out Diaper-Free Before 3.  It is an interesting read with lots of practical information (how to deal with the child who loves to sit on the potty but never actually goes; the extremely active child who bounces off the potty the second after sitting down; child care; constipation; potty training older children; and more).

    For more tips, tricks, and tales from early potty training, visit my Early Potty Training page.

    Happy potty training! 

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    1. I'm definitely interested, but honestly, I don't think I could handle trying to get Chase in and out of his clothes for all those potty trips every day; he's really squirmy! Is it horrible to say that I think diapers just sound easier?? :)

    2. Excellent point, Erica. Next week I'm going to post my 10 best times to put a baby on the potty. For you, I would suggest during diaper changes (especially first thing in the morning and after naps) and before the bath -- that way, no extra work taking on and off clothes. Just a few minutes reading a board book on the potty to help get Chase comfortable with sitting in the potty. He may or may not actually use the potty. I think Trenton was pretty easy to potty train, right? My first was not, that's why I'm more motivated. Also, my 18-month-old has a wicked red rash right now because she pooped in her diaper yesterday. My first child was the same -- very sensitive skin. So that's a big motivator for me to get her to poop at least in the potty. I'm don't care as much about getting her to pee there.

    3. You might also be more motivated to put Chase on the potty when it's warm enough for him to just wear a shirt and diaper.

    4. You got some great ideas there. I did a search on the issue and learn most peoples will agree with your point.

    5. I agree with most of your tips. I really have hard time training my kids to pee in the potty.

      Potty Chairs for Boys

    6. I just discovered your blog and so appreciate the many ideas and tips you've provided. Thank you! I particularly appreciate this post - we followed this method (unknowingly) with my older son who's about to turn 3. I called it, "potty awareness" training. Not really potty training, but just letting our child be aware that sitting on the potty is an option. We never had any expectations of him being potty trained early, but we always hoped he would. He was pretty much potty trained at 2.5. He still wears a diaper at night and occasionally has an accident at nap, but he's a deep sleeper. It's definitely extra work up front, but he was poop potty trained by 15 months which was totally worth it, especially since we didn't have to clean poop out of cloth diapers! (hooray!) His daycare providers LOVED that he never pooped at school. He pretty much just pooped with us at home and rarely had poop accidents. We've started doing this a few months ago with our almost 1 year old. I'm hoping the younger one will pick up as quickly as our older one.

      1. Yes, the poop training is a huge plus. Fingers crossed for number two going as smoothly!

    7. Thank you for all the great info and advice on early potty training! i have a few questions if you have time:

      -->the one-piece baby bjorn little potty that you use seems to be unavailable. they now have a "smart potty" and a "potty chair" ...neither of which is one piece? is that an important feature (in your opinion)? should i look for another brand, or are there other things you like about the bjorn (back support or not, size of seat...)

      -->i believe you have only early potty trained your girls, and later trained your eldest (boy). i have a six-month-old son i would like to start early training with, but am confused about "sitting" him on the potty. do i point his little pee-er down? does it just splash off the guard? when does he learn to pee standing up? (how does early training a boy differ from standard boy potty training instruction i would find elsewhere.)

      THANK YOU!

      1. Yes, I had feared that to be true for a while. I can't believe Baby Bjorn discontinued that pot. What on earth could they be thinking? My husband likes the Smart Potty b/c you can just pick up the bowl and dump it w/o taking and washing the entire potty. But I prefer the one piece. The big difference is that the Smart Potty is bigger -- my 16month still finds it a little uncomfortable. I think it works best starting around 18 months to 2 years. Requires the legs to be spread wider. Sadly the other infant pot I knew of also seems to be discontinued. There is an ultra-cheap ($5?) IKEA pot that is a good size, but not as comfy as the Baby Bjorn one (thinner sides). We've used that one as a van potty.

        When I trained my son as a toddler, he learned to pee sitting down. That is definitely what I would do with an infant, and yes use a substantial pee guard or hold it for him. I don't think much else would be different. If you are starting a little later with an already stable stander/ walker, you could just begin with standing. My friend has a 18month old and she is just starting potty training him now and is only teaching him to pee standing.

      2. i meant to post this reply last week, but THANK YOU for your prompt reply to my questions. so helpful. thanks again for sharing all your wisdom and advice on this site!

    8. Thank you for this! We have just started EC, but my little guy doesn't really cue with enough time for me to get him on the potty. I am going to try just putting him on there at some of the times you're suggesting instead. When I put him on after a bottle, he usually pees or poops, so this makes total sense to me!

      1. Ha! My 4yo and 6yo still regularly need to go after (or during) a meal. Truth is, I don't make much of an effort to catch pees when they're that young. What I really want is to catch the poops, and then I catch a bunch of pees too while trying. Good luck!

    9. I really like the dear information you offer in your articles. I'm able to bookmark your site and show the kids check out up here generally. Im fairly positive theyre likely to be informed a great deal of new stuff here than anyone else!
      start potty training carol cline revie

    10. I put my now 3yo on the toilet for the first time at 6months and got a lot of crap for it ( pun not intended). So seeing this makes me feel a little less crazy. She was day trained before her first birthday. I was forced into night traing 2-3 months later. My MIL cared for her while I worked and would leave her in a diaper all day even though she was already using the toilet and signed when she had to go. I decided that when the diapers we had were done we would not be buying any more. I put to much worn into it for it to be lost. I had to partially retrain during the day. And it was harder the second time around.


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