Potty Training in One Day: Day Zero (Preparation)


Update July 2013: Hello Pinterest users! I’m so glad you came upon my blog, and I wish you all the best in your potty training endeavors! See my update at the bottom of the post to see how we are doing six months later. pottytraining0
This is post number one in my Potty Training Diaries! Stay tuned—I’ll post a new blog each day.

Here we are, in the throes of potty training. My mother said not to expect anything until Champ is about 3. Since I’m expecting Baby Lion in early  May (or late April? That would be just fine!), I planned on trying in February, once the temperatures started to go up again. I read about Potty Training in a Day via a Pinterest link. In it, the mom of 4 recommends training between 2 and 2 1/2 years old. Champ is now 2  1/3 (One of my mother’s eccentricities was giving my age in abnormal fractions when people asked how old I was.)

Once he started signing to me that he was wet* or would grab a diaper from his own accord, I went ahead and bought a potty. The Cars potty that he picked out hung proudly from a hook on the toilet tank, just to get him curious.  Since I’m an at-home mom, he’s witnessed the standard procedure plenty of times.

*I started signing the standard “change diaper” when he was very young, but he quickly adapted the sign to patting his hips when he needed a change. 

On January 8th, a Tuesday, he showed me some signs that he was ready. Unfortunately my frazzled mommy brain cannot remember what those signs were. Some people say to wait until they wake up dry from naps. He didn’t do that. I’m pretty sure that was the day I finally put him in a cloth diaper again, since I had been just using disposables due to sickness, tiredness, and laziness. As soon as he wet the diaper, he told me so. Yes, I believe that was the “sign”—that he was aware of what was going on down there.

I also think he wanted to check the potty out, so I put it on the toilet and sat him down. The problem is, this kid doesn’t have an extensive spoken vocabulary. His comprehension is great—he understands basically everything that comes out of my mouth—he just doesn’t want to use words if he can sign something or point and grunt. So as he was sitting atop Lightning McQueen, I had to rattle my brain for scatological terms.

“Can you say, ‘Potty’?”

“Hottie.” Right, he can’t do P’s yet. Unfortunately “Hottie” is his how he says, “Hat.” I considered him wizzing in one of his beanies.



I had to delve into my third-grade self for more potty language. We finally settled on “Wee-wee.”

I still had no big boy underpants, or the time to devote to intense potty training. I figured I needed to reserve about three days in which we didn’t really leave the house. I thought the 13th-15th would work. Then I got an email about a job interview on the 14th. So we ended up starting on Thursday the 17th. Today is the 19th—we are on day 3, and things are going very well. (I type, right before he throws a major tantrum.) Well, Potty Training is going very well.

big boy pants


Note that the major training happens on one day, but you still need to reserve a couple of days to at least partially devote to training. If you want to try the One-Day method, here’s what you’ll need ahead of time.

  • A potty (we had a Safety 1st Comfy Cushy Potty but it got lost in the move. Now we use some cheap seat that goes directly on the toilet. Buy whatever you think your child will use.) *UPDATE*—after a few days of using the cheap potty seat, I can tell you that you need to do research. Read ratings. Don’t buy a potty seat that is “cushy” or “soft” on top but plastic on the bottom—the cushy part sinks down  below a plastic lip to cut into your child’s leg. I just sent the Captain out to buy a new one.
  • COTTON training pants / underpants. Don’t even think about buying Pull-Ups. They won’t work. Kids need to feel being wet.
  • Leg warmers, if it’s cold. We have a couple pair of Baby Legs. You can sometimes find them used at baby boutiques or diaper swaps.
  • Hardwood floors, tile, or plenty of sheets and towels. Thankfully our main floor is hardwood flooring and tile. I kept Champ on the hardwood all day.
  • Cleaning supplies for accidents. Vinegar and baking soda are cheap and effective. Check out “My Bathroom Smells: Getting Rid of that Boy Bathroom Smell” for a recipe.
  • Someone to watch your other kids, if this toddler isn’t your first. I wish I had someone to watch our dog—at least other children won’t try to consume your toddler’s accidents.
  • Diaper covers for sleeping—We use Thirsties brand Duo Wraps with snaps, but you could try those plastic Gerber Pants if you haven’t been cloth diapering. Krysta on These Are The Days uses a diaper cover over underpants. We decided to keep Champ in cloth diapers until he wakes up dry. Same effect—he feels the wetness like he would with underpants, but it means his pregnant mom doesn’t have to strip his bed in the middle of the night.
  • Waterproof mattress cover—I think every mattress needs a waterproof cover, personally, but especially any bed that will have a child in it. Buy two so you can replace the wet one immediately.
  • A timerWe used our Bird singing clock and the microwave timer. Our egg timer isn’t reliable, but you could use one of those if you want.
  • Patience—The first day is killer! Just remember that the harder you work on Day One, the easier Day Two will be. Practice some deep breathing, and have a plan for relaxation during nap time.

Read Potty Training Part 2 on These Are the Days for more ideas of what you’ll need. I didn’t use an apron, but I did have a doll and medicine dropper ready for Day One. We didn’t do a calling list, either.

The Day Before

Take your child on a special shopping trip, and tell him or her that you are going to have a Potty Party and you need his/her help to get ready. Here’s what to buy—involve your child in every step possible, letting him or her choose what they want:

  • Juice
  • Salty Snacks
  • Sweet Snacks
  • Candy or special treats (something small, like gummy bears or DumDum suckers)
  • Some cheap, new distractions (we got Play-Doh, punching balloons, and a new board book)
  • Poster board
  • Stickers

The juice and snacks help keep your child drinking and peeing. The special treats are for when they go successfully on the potty. The distractions keep them busy but also need to be activities that can easily be paused. Poster board and stickers are for a potty chart. Krysta doesn’t mention a sticker chart on her blog, but Champ has enjoyed the stickers far more than the candy.

Click here to read the next post: Day One—the day that changed everything. To tune in to live updates, follow Bewildered Mother on Facebook.

Update July 2013, six months later: Champ vastly improved over his first week, and by the end of January, he didn’t have any accidents except maybe at night (I kept him in cloth diapers for overnights. Most children cannot control their bladders overnight until the age of 3, and many still cannot at the age of six!). However, we have had some major hurdles since then. In February, he went to daycare for 3 weeks before I pulled him out. The workers would not take him potty when he needed to go, instead, they took all of the children on potty breaks every hour. The bladder of a 2-year-old doesn’t work like that! Second, my baby was born in April, so we had another regression. My advice? Keep on it. Go back to stickers if you need to. We ended up using two charts and gave one sticker if he went potty in the toilet and one if his underpants were dry when he went potty. The main thing is to ask often, recognize the potty dance, and get them to the bathroom as soon as possible. I’m amazed at how much bladder control this kid has when he is engaged in one activity. It’s when he’s distracted by MANY different things that he still has accidents.

18 thoughts on “Potty Training in One Day: Day Zero (Preparation)

  1. I did all of this with Ezra and he did great for a while then out of the blue started refusing to go. I’m waiting til we move to try again although we do take him (or try, but he refuses) at least once or twice a day. He’s back to cloth diapers! It’s really really frustrating.

    • That stinks! Champ is still in cloth diapers for naps and bedtime, and it will stay that way until he wakes up dry. Kids don’t like change! I hope Ezra will be more responsive when you try again! Maybe a new potty or different incentive will help, too. I really hope Champ doesn’t regress when Lion is born!

      • lol we already have one potty chair and a potty seat and 2 stools (he pees standing up). I’m already ruling out a lot of housing options because they have carpet (our house here is 90% carpet which is why we have had such a hard time I think. There’s no where for him to be other than the bathroom and HALF of the kitchen to not have accidents.)

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  5. Our first son began peeing on the potty at 18 months, but he was scared to do “the other.” After offering many rewards and becoming very frustrated, we turned to the doctor, who explained that some children view bowel movements as a literal part of themselves and are afraid to watch them flush away. (This made so much sense because he was a very analytical child.) After showing him a children’s anatomy book and explaining how the digestive system worked, he started going #2 the very next day!

    • That’s really interesting. I was just told that some kids don’t like the sound or the splash of going #2, but thinking of it that way makes so much more sense!

      We read a couple books about the potty process. Champ really liked saying “Bye bye poo poo!” and waving as it flushed away, so we were able to avoid trauma.

      Automatic flushing toilets can be terrifying, too. I’ve heard of people who carry sticky notes to stick onto the sensor so it won’t go when their child is sitting on there.

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  7. Great article. I have 4 boys and had them in 3 years, I also worked full-time, so didn’t have the patience or the time. Number 1 was already potty trained by the time number 2 came along (they are 22 months apart), but when I had numbers 3 & 4 (twins), number 2 was only 17 months old and not ready to potty train yet (the signs you mentioned in your article of being ready were spot on with all of my boys). I thought potty training was going to be disastrous. Something I learned early on with my oldest son was that toddlers usually enjoy running around naked. So, that’s what I let my kiddos do to potty train. It only took one day for me to potty train each of my 4 boys when it was their time, by simply letting them run around naked for a day, because they do not like the feeling of getting pee on them. It helps if you have hardwood or tile floors, as well. I had some carpet, but I am a clean freak, so I shampooed the carpets every week. I also had a little potty chair on the linoleum floor in the breezeway in between the kitchen and living room, since most of our time was spent in the living room. I did do sticker rewards, as each of my boys really enjoy being rewarded. I love that you advised against Pull-Ups in your article. I give that same advice to new moms, it’s basically a diaper. I find using Pull-Ups as being lazy. Anyway, always be prepared for some regression when there is a big change in the family, such as a newborn or divorce. It is pretty easy to get them back on track once you figure out what you need to do. What I found regression to be was that the child just needed extra attention. When a child gets used to having your undivided attention, and then the focus goes onto something or someone else, you’re bound to have regression issues. Be patient, this too shall pass. My boys are now 14, 12, and the twins are 11.

    • Thanks for your advice and experience! Champ has had some regression issues (when we had him in day care when he was 2, when Lion was born). Now sometimes he refuses to go potty when he needs to. I think it’s a control thing. He wants to be able to “hold it” and go on his terms, instead of listening to his body. We’re currently going through another big transition, so that’s another part of it. I got him a toy he wanted, and he doesn’t get it unless he goes 5 days without an accident.
      So I definitely reaffirm the guideline to potty train before 3 if possible. After 3 you get into the terrible 3’s where they want to question everything and push their limits!

  8. I just potty trained my daughter and it took about a year to get the full concept (day and night) to stick. I was pregnant with my youngest son and my daughter was about 18 months when I began. Her motivation was her Doc McStuffin and Dora the Explorer ‘big girl’ underwear and a weekly sticker chart. Now that she is 3 and her baby brother is 1 she is telling him how to go potty so he can get Cars big boy underwear! He’s just not fully motivated yet.

  9. Sounds more feasible with just one baby. I have twin boys and I have no idea how I will make that happen, especially when I’m home alone with them…sigh

    • Twins make everything harder. Nudity and bribery seem to be universal helps, though (haha). You’ll get there, momma! I believe in you! Potty training in one day is a pretty impossible standard, so go easy on yourself. My second son took longer to learn and had frequent regressions after the fact. Every child and family is different. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work for your kids—I’m sure they’ll get it eventually, and once one learns, hopefully the other will be more motivated to learn too. <3

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