Hi. I'm Andrea Olson, author of the Tiny Potty Training Book. If you want to begin (and finish) helping your child out of diapers once and for all, and you want to learn how to potty train but don't know where to begin, this page is for you.
I believe that potty training should be encouraging and efficient, and that ditching diapers should work well for all parents, stay at home or not. I am all about co-creating a successful, good-smelling toilet training experience with you!
What is Potty Training?
The GDF Definition
I prefer to define potty training as follows:
Potty training is a gentle, focused, one-time event that results in your toddler knowing when she needs to eliminate, communicating this need to her caregivers, and receiving assistance with the whole toileting process until potty independence is achieved.
The way I teach potty training, we learn our children, teach our children, and help them wrap up the process - giving them the gift of self-actualization and their dignity back - and we, the parents, initiate this training when WE are ready (not the child).
I do not believe potty training should involve external motivation like candy, sticker charts, or punishment.
Going pee is a natural event. Putting the pee in the right container is a learned event. Potty training your child is a simple matter of "now we're going in the toilet, not the diaper" and guiding that ship straight home. The process should be quick and gentle, yet firm and focused.
Potty training your child EARLY can make child-rearing cleaner, easier, and MUCH more connected. Plus, it protects the environment while your child's dignity remains intact.
So start potty training as soon as you feel equipped with the information on this website! The earlier, the better. It's not as hard as you think.
Now let's look at how early toilet training can begin....
When to Start Potty Training
And What to Expect
When can you begin potty training?
The way I teach it at GDF, potty training can start as early as 18 months for girls and boys alike. For earlier ages I recommend starting with Elimination Communication, however, many of my readers have had success with early potty training as young as 13-15 months of age.
There are many resources today telling us to wait until your child shows signs of "readiness" and interest in the potty. This is simply a myth (and a well-marketed one, at that!).
Just take one look at this brief history of toilet training ages and you'll know what I mean:
Let's take a quick look at some eye-opening statistics from this chart:
“92% of children in 1957 were toilet trained by 18 months.” (NY Times, 1999)
“The current average age of potty training completion in the US is 35 months for girls, 39 months for boys." (Ambulatory Pediatrics Journal, 2001)
I have a gentle parenting background but a firm conviction that when the parent is done with diapers, the child can be done with diapers.
You can expect to start, and finish, potty training at whatever age your child is right now. The key is to start now - because the older a child gets, the more difficult potty training becomes.
How long does potty training typically take?
Most parents are finished with what I call the Potty Training Experience in an average of 7 days, without force, M&Ms, or sticker charts. Most parents complete Potty Independence in small, customized steps over the following days, weeks, and months (such as clothing manipulation, etc.).
Now let's look at what potty training is NOT.
What Potty Training is NOT
Let's smash some myths
The 5 Biggest Potty Training Mistakes
I want to share some very important FACTS with you before we get any further into our conversation. Please click on the title or the "+" button below to read each section!
Potty Training Essential #1
One Single Starting Point
As it is with EC, one single starting point is the first essential for any parent toilet training their child.
There is, frankly, a lot of BS info on the Internet about toilet training. You can get most of it for free, which is a great option for some. However, I don't recommend winging it off of free info you find on the web or on Facebook Groups for 4 important reasons:
- Every other parent has an opinion about how to do this right. They've potty trained maybe 1 or 2 of their own children. They do not know much beyond that personal experience, so when you follow their advice, you may end up with a big mess.
- Too much information (TMI) can lead to overwhelm and even non-action. When you post a question to a Moms' Facebook Group or your own page ("Hey, we're potty training! How do we do this?"), you'll get a ton of differing opinions. Try them all and your child will be confused. Try to pick the "best" option and you will be confused.
- When you potty train on a whim, you skip building a strong foundation that sets you up for long-term potty independence (and fail to prevent common problems). Sure, some kids train super-easily. Then, a week or two later, you're back to square one.
- Going "public" about potty training can cause self-doubt and delay. Wait til they're ready, don't rush her, he'll be fine in diapers for a few more months, you're starting too early, don't do it, mine self-trained, etc. These people are just echoing the diaper companies' marketing campaigns to keep kids in diapers longer...and it will totally derail you.
These 4 reasons are precisely why I recommend going with one single starting point (and keeping it hush-hush that you're doing this at all). You'll have clarity, an expert at your disposal, privacy, built-in confidence, and a strong foundation for ongoing potty independence.
The Book I Trust...Because I Wrote It.
Nobody knows what the hey they're doing these days, regarding toilet training. Even the best-intentioned of natural parents, who are wholeheartedly trying to do the "right" thing for their children, are misinformed. So many people find me here at Go Diaper Free well-past the window for Elimination Communication (0-18 months)...so many that I decided to research and write my own book. Because, honestly, the resources out there are either entirely too harsh, full of misinformation, or just plain misleading.
My book is called The Tiny Potty Training Book because it is one teeny, tiny step you can take with parenting that will make a huge impact on your relationship with your child. It has essential multimedia features that will teach you in the way toilet-training should be learned - hands-on, person-to-person, and visual. Bonuses currently include an audiobook version, video library, downloadable forms and guide, and a private support group. The book, itself, is a quick and informative read, leaving you FULL of confidence to potty train once, and well!
Potty Training Essential #2
The Right State of Mind
In my potty training book, I start out with a pep talk and a list of 10 "ways of being" that will get you into the right state of mind prior to working on toileting with your toddler.
Why is the right state of mind so important for parents of potty-training-aged children? Because starting with this state of mind will keep your efforts safe from derailment from doubt, second-guessing, and defaulting back to diapers (when you're actually about to be finished!).
I've helped 10,000s of parents go diaper-free with their children...and these are the 10 Ways of Being I recommend in my book:
- Be physical (teach by doing, moving, demonstrating)
- Be consistent (repetition is your friend)
- Be steadfast (do not go back to diapers)
- Be kind (obviously)
- Be clear (focus!)
- Be short-winded (overtalking = fear)
- Be patient (she will get it!)
- Be positive (another obvious one)
- Be non-coercive (rewards and stickers, spankings and scolding, do not belong here)
- Be united (with your partner, caregiver, family).
Get the full Pep Talk in my 3-day free potty training primer course or grab a 2 chapter excerpt from my potty training book on this page, which includes an explanation of each the above ways of being. Plus, an overview of my concise Potty Training Plan comes with both of these free resources.
Start Off on the Right Foot
My Free 3-day Course
Before you get all excited and remove the diapers, allowing your child to "naked train" (and subsequently allowing her to learn absolutely nothing by potty training naked), or possibly just train outdoors, I would be honored to share with you a very handy resource.
It's my free 3-day course that gives some great "primer" tips to help get you on the right page before you begin toilet training your child. And quickly. So, you'd essentially be "ready" to train in about 3 days' time.
This free email course is exclusive to the over 10,000 parents on the list. You won't find this primer on my blog or in my book.
With it, I'll send you nuggets of wisdom and tips for the first 3 days, and thereafter I will generally aim to keep in touch over your journey. I do this because I want a personal connection with you where I can offer you guidance in nurturing your child's newfound potty independence.
(And sometimes I throw out some questions, because I just LOVE getting replies from our community about what you're into, what you're excited about, and what you're needing from me.)
Get immediate access to the 3-day primer to potty training course by clicking the button below and entering your info at the top of the page the button brings you to. I can't wait to help you get primed for the rewarding path ahead!
You're brave and resourceful!
Thank you for being here with me
I'm here for you as your biggest supporter and your personal guide.
I want to hear your success stories. I want you to tell me where I can be of even more help. I only create resources when I hear it from our community that they are needed...and I do my best to make them great.
I want to share in your Potty Training experience as your friend and biggest cheerleader.
I try my hardest to reply to all emails. I strive for non-judgment and acceptance...you won't find any parenting critics here!
I believe that EVERY new parent deserves to know their diapering and potty training options from the MOMENT they're curious...and I sincerely believe that children deserve their dignity and deserve to be diaper-free (free from dependence upon diapers).
In everything I do here at Go Diaper Free, I just want to make the world a better place through teaching Elimination Communication and Potty Training - for our babies, ourselves as natural parents, and our precious environment.