Potty Training: 9 Tips Before You Start

potty chair with chartTo be honest, I never even knew they call it “potty” until I started reading about toilet training. My mom called it Arinola and I grew up knowing that is what it’s called. Not one in our family even called it chamber pot (boinks!). Also, the only similar experience I had is when we litter trained our late cat, Naf, and that only took a day to do. So I had to read on how it goes for kids.

If you’re at this stage and you’re contemplating on bidding diapers goodbye, here are the things we did that may help you prepare for potty training. Note that my approach in learning this skill is to make it as fun and as stress-free as possible for kids.


We gave Mia lots of chances to pull her shorts/pants down everyday – by herself. Say, before taking a bath or before changing to pajamas at night, until it became easy breezy for her.

That took about a month or two. So I suggest doing this in advance before even buying a potty. If your kid doesn’t show interest in undressing, she’s probably not ready for potty training yet.

potty book

by Kathryn Knight & Anne Kennedy


We got this book as a Christmas gift from my sister Jill, and it’s perfect! The pictures are fun to look at, the words are simple enough to understand, and the parenting tips are short and sweet.

We read it to Mia even if we weren’t potty training yet and she loved it. Aside from seeing and understanding what a potty is and what it is for from the colorful pages of this book, it also drew a lot of excitement when it was time to buy one. She couldn’t wait to copy how the kids were sitting on it in the pictures!

If you can’t find that in bookstores, here is a list of other books that you can choose from: Potty Training Books


Pepi Play app

If you don’t have time to buy a book and you allow your kid to use your phone or your iPad, Pepi Bath is a role-play game where boys and girls learn about hygiene in a fun way. Mia played with this far before we started potty training too. It’s a simple yet very helpful app that teaches Going to the Toilet, Taking a Bath, At the Sink, and Washing Clothes. Even I had fun playing it. LOL. I’m sure there are lots of other apps you can choose from so if you want to go this route in helping your kid learn the basics of potty training, it might do the trick. A friendly reminder to limit screen time though… 🙂


As BabyCenter puts it, child readiness is different for every kid. So don’t get envious if the kids in your neighborhood or her classmates in playschool are already potty trained.

In our case, Mia first showed interest in the potty when she was about a year and a half, but that didn’t mean she was ready for it. She just sat there but didn’t produce anything.

Before she turned 2, she started announcing that she was peeing and so we tried it again. She had one or two successes in using the potty but she didn’t want to do it again afterwards.

When she turned 2 and a half, we gave it another shot. Every time she announced she needed to poop, we sat on the potty, read a story while waiting for her to produce, and guess what – nothing. So I got her off the potty chair and next thing I knew, I have poop scattered on the floor to clean. It turned out; she preferred to do it – standing. So yes, after 3 attempts, we still didn’t succeed. And we wasted money buying those expensive pull-up pants / training diapers every time we thought she was ready.

Here is a readiness checklist from Potty Training Concepts to see where you’re at:

  • Awareness of the need to go – squatting, grunting, hiding
  • No BM’s through the night
  • Dry diaper for long periods of time i.e. from long naps
  • Urinate a lot at one time (vs. a little throughout the day)
  • Some regularity of bowel movements.
  • Able to undress him/herself; pull his/her underpants down
  • Your child can follow simple instructions
  • Understands words such as potty, toilet, wet, dry, underwear
  • Is able to imitate behavior.
  • Motivated by “I can do it” or “I am a big boy/girl now.”
  • Child’s desire for parental approval.
  • Child’s desire to imitate and desire to be like others.


Yes, YOU. And not just your kiddo. I’ve learned that toilet training actually depends on the readiness of the trainer because it does require effort. I was a bit guilty of this. After several failed attempts, I was the one not ready to deal with the mess and the accidents again. I wasn’t ready to clean poop from the floor. (Can you blame me? Err.)

You also need to have the convincing skills to invite your child to Go Potty several times a day when all they want is nothing but play. And this is on top of trying to bring them to the table 3x a day for meals too.

Guiding her in the entire process is again, not a walk in the park. Pull your pants down, sit for a little while, pee or poop, flush it down, and wash your hands afterwards. Hmmm.. And how many times a day should we go through this? For how many days? That is why YOU need to be ready. Make sure you have enough time and loads of patience before you begin.

As for me, I did get motivated again when Mia mastered pulling her shorts down by herself. At the same time, summer playschool was near and we were determined to potty train her before it started.

So I told myself, let’s brave the s*** again and do this!


Another thing to consider is timing. When you’re sure that both of you are ready, check again if there are no stressors in your child’s life. I was glad I came across this article, Potty Training: What Doesn’t Work, as it gave me not just the Do’s but also the “Dont’s” and pitfalls to avoid. You might want to check it out too 🙂 Birth of a new baby, a new caretaker, adjusting to a new home, or a new school can put your efforts to waste. You would need to wait until things become smooth sailing again for your kid before you start.


pink and orange potty chair

Because Mia loves music, we bought the one that has a musical button. We actually brought her along and made her choose which one she likes. We did this too when we bought her a bike. Chris and I are often indecisive, but kids.. oh, they know which one they like. And their choice is often not the same as ours.

Anyhoo, if budget is not an issue, you can buy the ones with extra features. Just be careful not to buy the most expensive kind. It maybe the cutest but it may also not be the most practical. Kids grow fast and your potty investment might just end up in your garage.

I have no problem with cheap ones. They do the job just the same and they are easier to clean. Just make sure it’s durable and comfy to sit on. You might also like to choose potty chairs with cartoon characters on it. They are fun and inviting! The ones that can be a stool or a toilet seat at the same time (just in case your kid prefers to skip the potty and head straight to the adult toilet) are good choices too.


That fit. You don’t want them to immediately lose interest when the ones you’ve bought are too tight or too loose so make sure you got the right size. You can also let them choose the design. They will more likely wear it too if they’re the ones who picked them.



Buy stickers, stamps, M&Ms, or any small item that you think might motivate your child. Just make sure you buy lots of it for the numerous potty successes that you have to reward.

I wasn’t sure if stickers will work for Mia but I thought of giving it a try. I went to a thrift store and found some cheap stickers that I can give her every time she does a good job.

Now you don’t need these much. I just thought to keep the rest for future use.

I also printed out potty charts and posted them on the wall beside her potty. I just googled this one and downloaded it.


Notice that I chose the character that kinda resembles my daughter’s hair. hehehe

When you have chosen yours, you’re all set. Let the potty training begin!

I hope you found this helpful 🙂 My next post will give you a detailed guide to ensure your success. Here it is: How To Potty Train Your Toddler: 10 Useful Tips

I’d love to hear your own training preps. Let me know in the comments.