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Successful Potty Training with your Daycare


Parents, you may be wondering how to be successful at potty training while your child is in daycare much of the day. Today's post is a guest post by Danielle Gajewski, our Certified Coach in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Her post was originally published on her website,, on May 24, 2017. I hope you enjoy it! xx Andrea

For most parents these days, some type of childcare is part of their child’s week. Whether its grandma’s house, a dayhome/in-home daycare, full or part-time daycare, or even a drop-in at the gym….

So how do you potty-train while your child is in someone else’s care?

There was a time, not so long ago that daycares took some responsibility over potty-training, or even led the process completely.

Unfortunately, today’s “wait till they’re ready" message and ever larger diaper sizes has given daycares the opportunity to shirk this responsibility, and many now ask parents to keep their children in pull-ups WHILE they work on potty-training.

The situation in dayhomes (in the US, these are called in-home daycares - Andrea) is not necessarily better. Each provider's own experiences and prejudices will certainly effect their willingness to assist.

You might believe that your 20 month old is capable of potty-training, but does your daycare provider even think potty-training at that age is possible?

Surprise! They may have a policy.

First and foremost, don’t let your daycare’s potty-training policy come as a surprise to you. I hear from SO MANY parents who say:

“We potty-trained over the last week, and things have gone well. But I don’t think my daycare will let my child go commando, and he’s due back tomorrow… what should I do?”

If this is you, please find a time machine and have a conversation about potty-training with your daycare well before you actually begin. :)

Talk with them about it, up-front.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good communication between yourself and your daycare provider on this. I would go so far as to enquire about their policy as part of your daycare interviews when choosing a provider.

The potty-training policy should also be included in the agreement you sign when you register your child. Read it carefully and be sure to ask questions about it.

Ask whether a potty is available in or near the child's classroom.

Second, if the children at your daycare are segregated into different rooms based on age, be sure to ask whether they can offer the potty in the younger-age room – or at what age your child will be able to move to the older-age room if toilets are only available in that area.

The law....? :-/

Having just read the Alberta Health Services “Health and Safety Guidelines for Child Care Facilities,” I can tell you that there is nothing in there about potty-training.

It does not say that your child needs to be in diapers or pull-ups or even underwear to attend daycare, so any policies to this effect will be those of the individual care center or dayhome.

(Parent reader: please check your local, State, or Country's regulations regarding child care facilities by doing a quick Google search. Be informed! - Andrea)

At the same time, daycares are responsible for maintaining a clean and safe facility and may feel that having your child in diapers will minimize the risk of children being in contact with another’s bodily fluids.

Other ways to keep childcare spaces clean (besides mandatory diapers)

It’s a fair point, but I think that there are other opportunities for keeping the childcare spaces clean while maintaining the potty-training progress of the child.

Some examples:

  • having flooring surfaces that are easy to clean,
  • paying special attention to the potty-training child for the first week or two,
  • initiating frequent potty breaks, (I like to suggest every hour, or whenever the teachers usually change diapers if it's not too spread apart - Andrea)
  • asking parents to provide many changes of clothes, and, finally,
  • allowing children to use CLOTH training pants, if that is working well for the child at home. (Alternatively, some kids really need to have nothing but pants on their bums “commando” for the first 2 to 4 weeks of potty-training in order to get the hang of it. See what the center will allow.)

Ensuring a smooth transition.

Some children do really well with potty-training at daycare. Others struggle a lot.

This is mainly due to their individual personalities, as well as the daycare provider’s commitment to helping.

In order to ensure the smoothest transition from at-home potty-training to daycare-training, I generally recommend that parents speak to BOTH their child and the daycare provider (about how potty-training should be managed).

Talking with the daycare provider.

If there is a caregiver that your child generally responds well to, ask this person to be “in charge” of the potty training responsibilities for your child at daycare, as much as possible.

This person should be the one to take your child to the potty each time, should be the one watching for your child's signals, and also paying attention to your child in case there is an accident, then calmly helping your child to potty and get cleaned-up.

Sharing your child's intervals and signals.

After your potty-training experience at home, you should have a good idea of the regular intervals that your child needs to pee, as well as any unique signals that your child gives before going.

Write these down and give them to the caregiver!

Reminding your child who to ask.

Once the caregiver is on-board, let your child know that all the daycare workers are there to help him stay dry, but that if he needs to “go”, he should let “Miss X” know right away, and she will take him to the bathroom.

This takes away any confusion about what your child should do in this new situation.

<3 Danielle

And that is it! Thank you, Danielle G., for your wonderful guest post. Now it's your turn, mama/daddy:

Please comment below with your "potty training with daycare" struggles, surprises, and positive experiences.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Resource Recommendation

Getting EC Back on Track: a minicourse that walks you through observation, logging, and getting back on the EC wagon

Potty Time Mastery: a minicourse that helps you get extremely good at detecting the 4 ways to know the baby has to pee

Go Diaper Free: my popular EC book that simplifies EC, beginning to end

Danielle Gajewski

About Danielle Gajewski

The first time that I held my 6-month-old daughter over the sink and caught a pee, we were both ecstatic, and I became a believer. I offer workshops, support groups and private consultations (both in-person and virtually over phone/skype) in EC and non-coercive potty-training in Edmonton, AB, and surrounding areas. For more information, please visit my website or my local Facebook Group.


  1. Avatar Sarah Pablo on April 22, 2018 at 10:54 am

    My oldest daughter was almost single handedly potty trained by her daycare provider. They were so great and wanted her out of diaper as soon as possible. They said to just bring lots of outfit changes and they would take care of the rest! However, because of this I was completely unprepared for my second daughter’s potty training experience when I became a SAHM. So I’m very thankful I found. Is website! She is 18 months and potty independent!

    • Avatar Lora on September 14, 2019 at 11:36 am

      My 28 months old just started a day care. She is not Waring pull ups or diapers at home during day time, except at night time. She asks to go to the bathroom if we are out side home and she goes by herself when we are at home.The day care we joined three weeks a go forced us to put pull ups or diaper on her. .they said that she never asked to go to the bathroom by herself unless they offer her. They said she poops and pees in her diaper too in the day care..i told them that not to put any diapers at list for one day and they refused. I am helpless. My daughter is only using pull ups or diapers in day care. The day care refused to work with us or to give her a chance at list for one day. we don’t know what to do..Pleas help. this is the only day care convenient for us to drop and pick since we also have two older kids. the day care is right next to our other kids school .HElP!!

      • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 18, 2019 at 9:50 pm

        Hi Lora! I’m sorry to hear you’re having difficulties. It doesn’t sound like they are willing to deal with potty learning at all, which is ridiculous at her age. Really the best thing would be to find a new place, it doesn’t seem like that’s an option for you. You could try putting her in training pants and a cover like a Tiny Up for daycare. That way at least she’ll be feeling wet if she goes. xx Andrea

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 18, 2019 at 9:51 pm

      That’s fantastic Sarah! What a gem of a daycare. It sounds like you did a fantastic job with your second daughter, congrats! xx Andrea

  2. Avatar Jessica on March 11, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    Is it possible to do early (9 month) poo training at home for the morning poo but not bother with it during the day at school and just keep her in diapers there? Or will she start holding it in at daycare and develop stress about it?

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on March 17, 2019 at 10:20 pm

      You absolutely can do EC for poops at home and have her in diapers at daycare. Babies are really smart, they figure out who offers the potty and who doesn’t. xx Andrea

  3. Avatar Jenifer on August 31, 2019 at 7:57 am

    We have been moving our 17 month old toward potty independence this summer while I was on break. Her babysitter was on board. However, we just moved her to full-time care at the center our oldest (not ec’d) attended. I have been worried about whether they would understand and take her to the potty when she says “pie” (her version of “potty”). I wrote it in her paperwork, but when I picked her up on day one she had a very soiled pull up. I was ready to say, that’s it! Next week I’m sending you in tiny-ups. They’ll listen for your signals when you’re not wearing a diaper!
    This post is helping me to dial it back a bit. I’ll start with having a conversation with her actual caregivers (we spoke with the director before enrolling her). Thanks for posting this.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 18, 2019 at 9:53 pm

      Hi Jenifer! I’m so glad you’re going to get things sorted for your daughter at daycare, way to stand up for her. Even if she’s in pull ups it is really awful that she was in a dirty one. They should be changing her more often. I have no doubt moving to Tiny Ups will help. xx Andrea

  4. Avatar Davon on September 18, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    My 17m old is diaper free at home (still lots of pee misses but also lots of catches.) Daycare is totally on board with ec but it seems baby will never pee or poo on toilet at daycare. She waits until diapers are back on. Not sure what to do. Have asked daycare if she can just let baby go diaper free and i send a lot of pants for the misses…not sure what else to do. Any suggestions? I am so thankful daycare is on board i just wish that with all the effort daycare lady is putting in she was getting some reward :)

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on October 13, 2019 at 2:01 pm

      Hi Davon! I think ditching diapers is the way to go. If daycare is worried about a mess, you can do undies or training pants with something like a Tiny Up over it. That’s what I sent my kiddo in. xx Andrea

  5. Avatar Angelina on November 1, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    We were super gung-ho having just finished the GDF tiny potty training book, to get started with our 18 month old. Then daycare (that I thought would help) said they don’t do that until they are in the two year old room. They were impressed that we were going to start potty training and said to still do it, but that she would have to wear diapers while at daycare (3 days/week). Based off our reading and our readiness to ditch diapers, this seems like it won’t work well. How do you tell a kid, you are done with diapers Fri-Mon but in them Tues-Thurs? Help!?

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on November 11, 2019 at 12:29 am

      Hi Angelina! I am sorry to hear daycare changed their mind. Hopefully you can get them to offer the potty here and there to keep it part of the routine. It is definitely possible for you to potty train at home. Things may progress a little slower with daycare not on board, but it will happen. I would switch the back up for daycare from regular diapers to either training pants with a waterproof cover or a pull up. Then call them “school pants” and only use them for daycare. xx Andrea

  6. Avatar Denice swanson on January 20, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    please consider the issue of various children peeing on your carpet before passing judgement. A child who will not tell you they have to use the toilet, is not ready. Period. Sorry to parents who find that inconvenient. I wonder how many of you would like a child to owe on your carpet. You really think you pay to trash someone’s home?

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on January 21, 2020 at 2:10 pm

      Hi Denice! I did mention that daycares are responsible for maintaining a clean and safe facility and may feel that having your child in diapers will minimize the risk of children being in contact with another’s bodily fluids. That’s why I feel training pants are a good alternative. They will prevent a mess and keep the child learning. xx Andrea

    • Avatar Pamela on February 25, 2020 at 1:00 pm

      Thank you for bringing this up. Please stop assuming childcare providers are “shirking their responsibilities,” you’re not there. If a child never initiates trips to the bathroom and after several days hasn’t had a single successful attempt on the potty, it’s time to put on a diaper, they’re not ready and you’re harming their development by forcing it.

      • Avatar Andrea Olson on February 25, 2020 at 2:46 pm

        There is definitely a learning curve Pamela. It can take a few days for a kiddo to learn the new expectation at daycare to use the potty. You don’t want to rush them back into diapers after a day or two, but you also don’t want them regularly having accidents for days on end. Odds are things haven’t quite clicked if that’s the case. xx Andrea

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