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Potty Training Methods That Work!

Katlyn Joy |22, March 2011


Potty training is as much as rite of passage for a parent as the toddler. Knowing how to start can be overwhelming for both, however. While there are myriad methods for potty training, here is a primer to the most popular ones, including the pros and cons of each. Once you have committed to a method, take heart. It is just a matter of time, and patience, until diapers disappear from your life.

Bare Bum Method

The name tells it all. Pick a time when you will be home for several days in a row. This is not a method to take on the road. You will be letting junior go commando during all his waking hours. The idea here is that your toddler will be much more inclined to use the toilet when the other option is getting pee all down her legs. Or worse. This method is most likely to work if your child is one who wants changed promptly after filling his diaper.


  • Pretty simply to implement and often successful after only a few days.
  • No special equipment, other than possibly protecting your flooring or furniture.
  • If you live in the country, being out in the back yard might be helpful too.


  • Your furniture, carpet and other belongings might become rather soiled. Know the best methods for urine/fecal matter stain removal.
  • If it's not mild or warm weather, you might have a little frozen bum that is not a happy camper.

Readiness Approach

For those who like having expert approval, this method is endorsed by heavyweights such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and specifically famous pediatrician Dr. T. Berry Brazelton. Additionally, this is probably THE most popular approach to potty training in the US currently. With this approach parents wait to start training until the child has shown clear readiness signs such as interest in toileting, ability to follow and understand directions, and talking about going potty. The parent works through stages such as talking with the child about using a potty, introducing the child to the potty, letting the child sit on the potty while clothed and finally actual attempts at using the potty for real. Parents use incentives such as praise, stickers and rewards and avoid any scolding or punishments for mistakes.


  • Has the backing of child development experts.
  • Fairly simple to employ.


  • Must wait until child is clearly ready, usually not before age 2.
  • May take awhile to fully accomplish complete potty training.

One Day Method

This was first introduced back in the early 1970s but has been brought back into popularity by Dr. Phil McGraw, and is also known as the modeling approach. The parent spends an entire day potty focused with the child. All interaction and conversation on this day revolve around toileting. The parent will discuss their big plans for the day. Props are required, such as a doll that drinks and wets, a potty chair and lots of liquids. The child is given lots to drink ensuring plenty of practice with getting to the potty on time. The doll is given a drink then put on the potty chair to wet. Then the potty chair is emptied into the toilet. The doll is praised for its success. Then the child gets to practice going potty too. If the child has an accident he or she gets some extra practice. Parents can make the path to the potty a race to increase the fun factor.


  • Time. You have a dedicated day to the process and then should experience overall success with potty training.
  • Works with all types of personality types.


  • You can't do the potty day halfheartedly.
  • You must dedicate a full day and not slack.
  • If your child is not ready, it won't be successful however.

The Infant Training Method

This method sounds a bit off the wall to most people in North America but is used widely around the world, especially where disposable diapers are unavailable or hard to find. Basically, you take the child, often an infant rather than a toddler, to the toilet and hold them over it every 30 minutes. This teaches a child to associate elimination and urination with the toilet. Additionally, the mother/parent must also be aware of the subtle signs that the child needs to use the potty, or the typical toileting patterns.


  • May achieve potty training success at much earlier age than other methods.
  • Reduced disposable diapers/laundry costs.
  • Less diaper rash or skin issues from wetness,
  • No special equipment.


  • Very time consuming and if both parents work outside the home, it'll be all but impossible to implement.
  • If you don't use disposable diapers, you may have some extra laundry.

Related Articles

When To Start Potty Training

Potty Training: How to Know When Your Child is Ready?

10 Steps to Successful Potty Training

Potty Training Boys Vs. Girls

Choosing Potty Training Books


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Guest Aug 18, 2013 08:59:33 PM ET

My toddler will pee in the toilet but will defecate in his pants, He is 4 years old. What can I do?

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