7 Best Potty Training Methods

Overview of 7 of the most popular potty training methods. Find out what each method is like and see which one most appeals to you. This post discusses the Oh Crap Potty Training Method, the Babywise Mom Potty Training Method, the 3-Day Potty Training Method, the Bare Bottom Method, the Child-Oriented Method, the Self-Training Method, and Infant Potty Training.

Child sitting on the potty

There are many different potty training methods to choose from. Potty training is overwhelming enough without adding to it trying to figure out which method is best.

It is important to remember that there is not one right way to potty train. In this post, I will discuss several common and popular potty training methods. Choose the one that seems best for you, your child, and your family.

Do not be afraid to mix and match methods and create something just right for you.

All modern methods use praise and affection. With most, you can use rewards. This is a very high-level overview of the different methods. If you see one that appeals to you, read more about it through the links I have provided.

Oh Crap Potty Training Method

The Oh Crap! Potty Training Method is one of the most popular methods used today. This method is written by Jamie Glowacki.

This method breaks potty training down into 6 blocks. These are stepping stones to get you through the entire process.

This method is so popular because it helps give parents a roadmap for how to potty train their child. You clearly know what milestones to watch for and when to move on to the next step.

This potty training method does not have a set timeline. You move from one block to the next when your child is ready to move on. This is nice because it takes the pressure off to get it done in so many days. You know what to do and when you can move on.

The blocks are:

  • Pee and poop while naked (bare-bottom)
  • Wear clothes but no underwear
  • Pee and poop while away from home
  • Pee and poop while wearing underwear during the day
  • Consistent self-initiation
  • Trained for nap and night

>>>Read: Potty-Training Using the “Oh Crap!” Method

Babywise Mom Method

I really do not like potty training, so I want it done as fast as possible. I do not want to spend a month or longer working on this. I want to hit it hard and move on.

This is a more parent-led method and works well for parents who like life to be more on a schedule.

This is something you can do over one weekend. You will focus in on your child for the weekend to help them quickly learn when they need to use the bathroom and to get there in time.

You do need your child to be ready in order for this to work. It can cause some stress on you and pressure on your child if you let it get intense. You do, after all, have a goal to get done in a few days, so the clock is ticking.

I am all about preparation, both physically and mentally, so while it is a fast method, it is one I have the parent and the child be ready for.

I focus on staying clean and dry as recommended in the Toddlerwise book. So the goal is to stay clean and dry rather than having success in the potty. The praise and rewards focus on clean and dry and not on performance on the toilet.

Having success leads to staying clean and dry, but you do not have the pressure to perform while on the toilet.

If it is not done in one weekend, you can continue working on it over time.

>>>Read: Babywise Mom Potty Training Method

Bare-Bottom Method

This is a popular one for moms of toddlers who are a little older. It is also necessary that weather be nice enough to spend a lot of your time outside.

This method is also more of a “3-day potty training” method.

You will basically strip your child down with no diaper, underwear, or pants. You will ideally be able to be outside in case of accidents (since you have nothing as a barrier to help catch your child’s accidents). If not, you stay in one room together. That way if there is a mess, it is more contained.

Then you just have your child play. The idea is that most children will not have an accident on themselves, so when they need to use the bathroom, they will run to the potty. This should help them learn to recognize and respond to the urge to use the bathroom.

After a few days (hopefully) you can start to put underwear on your child and they should still recognize that urge to go to the bathroom and use the potty.

Many potty training methods actually use the bare-bottom method for at least a day, so even if you do not adopt this fully, you might find yourself doing it for a day or two. You will likely start bare-bottom and transition to commando (without underwear) or underwear only.

3 Day Potty Training

The three-day method is very similar to my method. You clear your calendar. You spend your entire weekend (or three day period) watching your child.

You get your child to drink as many liquids as possible so they really have to use the bathroom often. You have your child sit on the potty at regular intervals.

You have rewards and incentives to use the potty. There is a lot of focus on positive reinforcement.

Many people start this method out with a bare-bottom for day one.

This works well for families where both parents work and the child is in daycare or has caregivers who do not want to potty train. You can feasibly do this in a weekend when you are home.

Read more in Potty Training in 3 Days.

It is worth noting that this method typically does not focus on night training right away. This is more of a daytime potty training focus in that 3 days. So you will probably still use pull ups for night and even naps.

>>>Read: Potty Training at Night: How to Have Success!

Child-Oriented Method

The child-oriented method is a very slow process and follows the lead of the child. This method can work well if you have the time to just let your child lead out. A benefit of this method is that you are not forcing your child into something she isn’t ready for. The steps include:

  • Introducing the potty. The child sits on it clothed. You become “friends” with the toilet.
  • Child sits on the bottom bare-bottom. There is no pressure to use it, you just sit there.
  • Child is put on the potty when the diaper gets dirty. You flush contents of the diaper down the toilet and explain this is where poop should go.
  • Child goes bare-bottom for a time.

If the toddler ever resists the potty, you need to stop right away. Your child will go at their own pace.

This method is recommended to start between 18-24 months old, but often takes until 3 years old to complete.

This can work well if you are not in a rush and are typically at home. You will need a lot of patience.

T. Berry Brazelton introduced this method in the 1960s after noticing many children were being forced to start potty training before they were ready, which would lead to issues including constipation. You can read more in his book Toilet Training the Brazelton Way.

Self-Training Method

We would all love for our child to decide to potty train themselves one day. Some kids do it. Most will not.

If you want to hope for this method, you will want to have the potty available to your child. You will want to make sure they understand it is an option and know how to use it.

Then you just wait for them to decide to do it one day. If you decide to aim for this, I would also have a backup plan.

My second child actually taught herself around 18 months old, but definitely had some regressions down the road–primarily when her younger sister was born when she was 23 months old.

This “method” is most common among children who have older siblings. They want to be like their siblings and use the toilet like they do.

Infant Potty Training – AKA Elimination Communication

This method is potty training infants. There was a time when elimination communication was incredibly popular. This actually starts with a newborn. Most babies who are taught this method are potty trained by the time they can walk.

This method needs to be started before 6 months old in order to follow it.

This requires parents to really know their baby’s cues and get baby to the potty to pee or poop in time. The parent needs to be watching for signals on high alert.

Read more about this in the book Go Diaper Free: A Simple Handbook for Elimination Communication.

Combine Methods

There really is not one right way to potty train. There is no one right method that is best for every family out there.

Do not be afraid to pick and choose what you think is best from different methods to create your own way of potty training. If you like things about the three-day potty training method and the child-oriented method, use both.

Signs of Readiness

While the different methods focus on potty training at different times in life, you will have the most success if your kiddo is ready. You will want to know the signs of readiness.

Here are some signs your child might be ready for successful potty training:

  • Child has some control of the bladder. This is hard to know for sure until you try, but typically it would be that your child can stay dry for 1.5-2 hours when awake.
  • Child does not like to be wet. They do not like wet or dirty diapers.
  • Child is willing to try. It is basically impossible to force someone to use the toilet, so if your child is not willing, this will be a battle you cannot win. You will need to help your child find the motivation if they do not have it.
  • Child has an interest in using the toilet.
  • Child has an interest in others using the toilet.
  • Child can physically handle pulling pants up and down and washing hands.
  • Child can follow multi-step instructions.

Not every sign needs to be present, but this is a good list to contemplate.

Potty Training FAQs

Here are some questions you might be having.

What is the Best Age for Potty Training?

The best age is when your child is ready. That varies a lot from child to child. The range seems to be 18 months to 3 years old.

Should I Use a Potty Chair or the Toilet?

Some methods have an opinion on this. My answer is to use what is best for your child and your home. Some kids are fine just using the toilet. That is nice because you do not have to clean it out. Others are too nervous to sit up on a toilet, even with a potty seat, and can’t relax enough to go.

What Are Some Ideas for Rewards?

Young children are easily influenced, so a reward is whatever you turn into a reward. Here are some ideas:

  • Cheerios
  • M&Ms
  • Candy
  • Treat
  • Toys
  • Sticker chart
  • Dance party
  • Praise

Should My Child Sleep in Big Kid Underwear, Pull-Ups, or Diapers?

The ideal situation would be underwear. Not all kids will be ready for being potty trained during naps and night right away. For many methods, nighttime potty training is a totally different program.

Let’s address naps first. I would try underwear and give that a few days (unless you are sure that will not work). If that doesn’t work, consider disposable training pants, diapers, or plastic covers to do over the underwear but keep the bed dry (or more dry).

Diapers are cheaper than pull ups, so that is nice, but they do not resemble underwear at all, so that can leave “big kids” upset.

For nighttime, you typically want to wait until your kiddo is waking up clean and dry for a week or two before moving to underwear.

Should I Punish for Accidents?

No. This can actually cause detrimental effects to the training process. You really need to watch your attitude and demeanor when accidents happen.

WHEN accidents happen. Not if.

They will happen. They are normal. They are as normal as child falling down when learning to walk.

You can have your child be involved in taking responsibility for accidents. This would mean helping to clean up if your child is able to safely do so. But this is no more a punishment than having your child help clean up their toys after playtime.


There are many potty training methods out there and many variations to those methods. Pick the one that best suits you and your child, but do not be afraid to change things up if your child does not seem ready.

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2 thoughts on “7 Best Potty Training Methods”

  1. Just wanted to leave a note about Elimination Communication (EC)–you can actually start it at any time and do it to the level that suits you best!
    We do EC part time with our 10 month old and didn’t start at all until 6 months. We cloth diaper, and when she started solids I didn’t want to have to worry about scraping diapers, so I started giving her opportunities to go on the toilet. She is now basically completely toilet trained for #2–no more messy diapers to clean up! She is also starting to pee on the toilet, and will occasionally have dry diapers for up to 2 or 3 hours, using the toilet a few times in those intervals. I’m terribly at watching for signals, too, so I just give her an opportunity to go whenever i change a diaper.
    We’re not a “diaper-free” family at all, but we have definitely found that doing a bit of EC is great for our family. Interestingly, I noticed from reading the post that part-time EC helps to establish the first few steps of a few of the methods–our LO is comfortable going on the potty, aware of her elimination, and occasionally initiates by signing to go potty. I would definitely recommend to anyone who is curious about it to just try it!


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