Wondering how in the world to potty train under 2 years old? How to potty train a 1-year-old or a stubborn toddler? Is potty training under 2 years old possible? Is potty training a toddler hard?
Potty training under 2 years old is possible! We recently potty trained our 21 month old toddler boy and i’m sharing all our potty training tips for toddlers under 2.
Most experts believe that the golden window for potty training is about 18-30 months, which may be earlier that some would have thought. Its definitely earlier than I originally thought!
Before I read about potty training, I thought we were going to wait until at least 3 years old. But, after reading up on some different methods and success stories we decided to give it a go at 21 months.
Potty training under 2 is going to get messy. However it can be so much easier if you have a game plan:
- Research which method(s) you want to use.
- Consider your own toddler and their attitude, ability, and mannerisms.
- Stock up on potty training supplies!
- Prepare for the big day.
Below I walk through how we made and implemented a game plan for our young toddler and will share our best potty training tips for toddlers under 2.
Looking for more tips and advice for toddlers? I think you might like these posts:
- Toddler Schedule – Stay At Home
- Snacks For Toddlers
- Easy Toddler Lunch Ideas For 1-year-olds
- Toddler Activities for 1 Year Olds
Potty Training Methods
There are many potty training methods out there including the 3-day Method, Oh Crap! Potty Training (OCPT), and Child-Oriented potty training.
The 3-Day Potty Training Method
The 3 day method is the quick and dirtiest method, but isn’t for the faint of heart! This method involves having your kiddo go commando for three full days.
Walk your toddler to the potty every 15 minutes for 3 days straight. Don’t even think about leaving the house or turning your back to cook dinner or do laundry. Quick and messy.
Oh Crap! Potty Training (OCPT)
The OCPT method is similar to the 3-day method, but stretches out the timeline a bit and progresses in blocks instead of a specific number of days.
Start commando so that your toddlers starts to understand what going potty feels like. Once they “get it”, add loose fitting pants and finally underwear. Training can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Child-Oriented Potty Training
The child-oriented method focuses on following your child’s lead and taking small baby steps over longer periods of time.
This method starts with sitting on the potty fully clothed to get your child comfortable. Then after a few weeks start to have them sit on the potty without clothes and practice dumping their diaper into the toilet. After another few weeks gently encourage using the potty by removing their diaper for short periods of time, and so on.
What to Know About Potty Training Under 2?
You don’t need to follow any specific method just because your child is less than 2, but there are some considerations to take because of their young age.
- Body Awareness
- Communication Skills
Consider your 1 Year Old’s Body Awareness
Most toddlers under 2 likely don’t truly understand what it feels like to go potty. Its also harder to explain this to them in words without them feeling and experiencing it themselves.
This means you should expect to spend some time pant-less. Accidents WILL happen, and that’s okay! Its how they learn.
Consider Your Toddler’s Communication Skills
To be successful in potty training, your toddler will have to be able to tell you when they need to go to the bathroom.
We looked up sign language for “potty” and taught it to our son. He does say some words and he ended up learning how to say “poo poo” when he needed to go either #1 or #2.
Is Your Toddler Big Enough to Potty Train?
Most children under two are smaller and shorter than older toddlers. This means they probably can’t climb up on the toilet yet, especially without assistance. It also means they may not know how to pull down their pants yet.
It doesn’t mean potty training isn’t possible, but just keep in mind that a smaller potty (we have one like this) may be a better option for toddlers under two and you may have to help them pull down their pats for some time.
What Timeline Do You Have to Potty Train?
If you want your toddler to be potty trained before two, the Child-Oriented method is probably not the one to go with since full potty training can take months or years.
We used many aspects of the OCPT method and full potty training took 14 days. You will likely want to plan to stay home for at least the first part of potty training so its a good idea to plan to start over a long weekend or holiday.
Best Potty Training Supplies
Before you get started potty training, there are some potty training supplies that will make the process just a little more bearable!
Below are Amazon links to all of our potty training supplies. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, consider signing up for a 30 day free trial so you can get free shipping on many of these items!
- Toddler Potty // I thought we could do without this, but ended up running to the store to get one after day 2. I’ll go into more detail on how we used the toddler potty, but it really was extremely helpful once they started to realize when to go and it was urgent!
- Toilet Training Seat // Most toddlers won’t feel comfortable sitting on the adult size toilet seat. This toilet seat insert helps them feel more secure on the large toilet! They won’t be using the toddler potty forever so this will come in handy.
- Flushable Toddler Wipes // toilet paper can be very rough on your toddler’s bum. Things will get messy and you will be glad you have these. We love these flushable wipes!
- Water Cup & Juice Boxes // pushing liquids is really helpful especially in the first few days. These are our favorite cups and juice boxes we love.
- Potty Training Sticker Chart // we loved using this potty training chart! My toddler loves stickers and it was a good way to get him to stay on the toilet if we told him he would get to pick out a sticker at the end.
- Underwear // this won’t come into play until a bit down the road, but your toddler will need some underwear by the time potty training is done!
- Training Pants // for toddlers under 2, I don’t recommend night or nap training quite yet. If you are an overachiever, go for it! However many toddlers will night train themselves so we will be 7aiting it out or will tackle night training at an older age. We love Pampers Easy Ups!
- Tablet (optional) // a tablet is totally optional, but we found it very helpful to get our son to stay on the toilet during the first days of training. We made a video playlist of his favorite short 3-4 minute videos and let him watch one each time he sat down. We have since weaned him off watching a video every time.
You will also probably want to stock up on some old rags for cleaning up and laundry detergent because accidents will happen!
Getting Started With Potty Training
Before you jump right into potty training you should decide on a potty training method and order the necessary supplies as we discussed above (check and check!).
Next, you should decide on a good day to start training. The first few days are going to be rough, so plan accordingly based on what will work best for your family.
- Some families choose to start on a Saturday so both parents are home to supervise or possibly watch other siblings.
- If both parents work, it also might be a good idea to start over a long weekend or holiday so you have more than 2 days at home to get started.
- We decided to start on a Monday; we have a pretty good weekly routine and I thought my toddler would be a little more distracted if we started on a weekend and his dad was home.
There is no right answer! But, think about what day would work best for your family beforehand and be prepared.
Our Success with Oh Crap! Potty Training
We chose to use a modified version of the OCPT method. If you want to use this method I recommend reading the book (check out the book here).
I won’t say we followed the method exactly, but we did use many of the approaches discussed in the book. Specifically, we moved through the potty training process in “blocks” based on progress instead of specific days as discussed in the book. Here is a summary of the blocks:
- Block 1: nothing on the bottom
- Block 2: pants, but no underwear
- Block 3: going out and about
- Block 4: underwear
- Block 5: self-initiation
One key point made in the book is that you want to look for progress, and not perfection. During the potty training process your toddler will start with understanding “I peed”, then “I’m peeing”, and finally “I need to pee”.
There will be many aha moments, but at other times it will seem like one step forward and two steps back. Remember to celebrate any progress, even small!
Next, i’m going to walk you through our experience with potty training day-by-day! It took us 14 days to get a full day without an accident. Some toddlers may reach this day much sooner in the process and some later.
Block 1 Oh Crap! Potty Training
Day 1 & 2 were pretty rough. I was prepared for it to be messy, but I wasn’t prepared for the utter exhaustion of having your eyes on a toddler for 13 hours straight each day. We were also confined to the living room because of carpet in the bedrooms and I didn’t want to risk an accident.
We started by taking our toddler’s diaper off first thing in the morning and putting him on the potty. To our surprise, he went right away on day 1. We walked him to the potty every 30 minutes all day long.
Some books recommend making a big deal about throwing away all the diapers in a symbolic ceremony. I don’t think my toddler would have really understood and plus we weren’t going to nap or night train for a while.
Notes for Day 1-2 (Block 1):
- No diaper or pants
- Keep your eyes on your toddler 24/7 during these first days so you can learn their potty cues and intervene with any accidents
- If they start having an accident, quickly pick them up and walk them to the potty while saying something like “oh no, pee goes in the potty” in a happy tone
- Don’t ask if they have to go (they will say no), walk them to the potty frequently
- Celebrate any victory with lots of praise, cheers, dancing, high-fives, ect.
- Expect LOTs of accidents. We had eight on day 1 and seven on day 2
Block 2 Oh Crap! Potty Training
Towards the end of day , I felt like our toddler was finally starting to get it. I could tell he had moved from the understanding of “I peed” to “I’m peeing” and so we progressed to block 2.
Day 3 was very promising as he only had 1 accident! He also initiated for the first time on day 3. We continued to walk him to the potty every 30 minutes.
On days 4-5 we moved our potty trips to every 45 minutes and he definitely regressed a little bit because of this.
On day 4 I let my guard down a little bit and decided to do some dishes and my toddler was out of view for just a few minutes. During this time he climbed inside a bin of toys and peed all over them … so we went back to watching him like a hawk!
Notes for Days 3-5 (Block 2):
- Pants, but commando
- Don’t wait for perfection in block 1 before moving to block 2, move when you see progress
- If you feel like pants are causing more accidents, feel free to bounce back and forth between blocks 1 & 2 for a while.
- Try to extend potty break check-ins, even by 10-15 minutes.
- Still expect accidents. We had one on day 3, three on day 4, and six on day 5.
Block 3 Oh Crap! Potty Training
Here is where we deviated from the OCPT method.
After day 5 I was extremely exhausted. It was Saturday and I needed a break and so we introduced training pants.
At first I was disappointed in myself because many methods absolutely do not recommend training pants, saying they will undo all of your progress. However, looking back it was the best decision we made and I think it helped us in the long-run!
When we introduced training pants we made a big deal about how these were “big boy pull ups” and how he still needed to use the potty because he was a big boy.
Knowing he couldn’t have a real accident and make a mess, we started letting him roam the house again (instead of being confined to the living room) and I was able to get some house work done instead of watching him 24/7. This really helped my mental health and I think our toddler could tell as well and was much happier.
I do believe that those first 5 days without training pants set the foundation for potty training because he learned how his body worked and what it felt like to go potty because he could see the accidents happen.
During this stage we bounced around from wearing training pants when we needed a break, just pants when we were feeling hopeful or needed to go outside or run errands, and back to block 1 if there were too many accidents and we knew we were going to be home for a while. We continued to take him to the potty every 45-60 minutes.
In block 3 he had about 1-2 accidents per day most days. As the days went on and we became more and more confident, we eventually weaned from the training pants except for naps and night time.
Notes for days 6-13 (block 3):
- Pants, but commando or pull up
- Try to leave the house for short periods and run errands or go on a walk around the block. This is the first step in progressing back to “normal life”.
- Extend potty check ins to 60-90 minutes.
Block 4 Oh Crap! Potty Training
Then it happened! On day 14 he had no accidents the whole day. After he made it a full day without an accident, I felt confident to move onto the next block…. underwear!
The first few days with underwear he did regress a little bit and had a few accidents each day. It can be a little discouraging if this happens, but the feeling of underwear is new and might remind your toddler of their diaper days.
It only took a few days for our toddler to realize that he couldn’t go in his underwear because it would feel yucky.
We continued on in block 4 for a few weeks. The accidents got further and further between, but he wasn’t quite self-initiating as much as we would like.
Notes for days 14-28 (block 4):
- Expect a little regression as you introduce underwear.
- Feel free to bounce back to block 2 or even block 1 if you are having a bad day.
- This is when a lot of parents might want to quit, but my advice is to push through! You are almost there.
- Continue with potty check ins every 60-90 minutes.
- We were a little more lenient on listening when he told us he didn’t need to go instead of taking him to the potty every time.
Block 5: Self-Initiation
Based on my research, some kids can take months or years to fully self initiate! Many toddlers, especially boys, get too engrossed in playing and activities and don’t want to stop to use the bathroom.
We are about a month into potty training and somewhere between blocks 4 and 5. He does self-initiate sometimes, but I’ve learned if I leave it all up to him he will hold it too long and have an accident.
Since my toddler is a wild child I imagine we will be in this phase for quite a few more months. I do consider him potty trained because he can go many days and weeks without an accident as long as I keep an eye on him and watch for his cues. We did it!
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