We are knee deep in our second round of potty training. Our youngest is about to turn 3 and the day we've long avoided is finally here — he needs to learn to go potty like a big boy.

Having done this successfully before — although it took MONTHS — there is a definite to-do list to accomplish and items to acquire prior to commencing. For instance, you will want to stock up on candy or small toys before your child's behind touches his shiny new plastic potty.

So, here goes. Here's the potty training to-do list to help insure a less messy and hopefully more fruitful potty training experience for all involved.


Invest in a themed child-sized potty, preferably one that sings or talks or acknowledges that your child made a deposit. You should be able to find one for under $30.

Training Underwear

These are padded underwear that your child can wear to soak up more of the inevitable accidents. Buy a bunch of them — at least 10 — unless you enjoy doing laundry every 2-3 hours.

Wipes/Paper Towels

Make sure you have a copious amount of bacterial wipes, hand wipes and paper towels near the potty and in the bathroom. Trust me, you will need them. Often.


What is your child's favorite candy? What is her favorite small toy? Before you begin potty training, show them the incentive and make the goals clear — number 1 gets a treat and number 2 gets a toy is an option — so they know what the stakes are. If they are motivated enough, they will focus more attention on succeeding.


One of the most well-known books written about potty training is "Everyone Poops" by Taro Gomi. The book is concise with easy to understand drawings. You can easily find a copy at your library or a new or used copy online. Start reading it with your child a few days or weeks prior to beginning potty training to get them acclimated.

A Game Plan

Are there rooms in the house that you do not want soiled? Make sure you keep those rooms off limits during potty training. Same goes for toys or furniture. Also, make sure you begin during a time when you or your spouse will be home with your child for long stretches of time. You'll want to have lots of hours at home to make sure your child begins to get the hang of potty training.


You will want to make sure you've got DVDs on hand or shows recorded in your DVR because your child might be sitting on the potty for long stretches. The entertainment will help keep him entertained.


It might be helpful to set an old-fashioned timer to remind you and your child that it's time to sit on the potty. Every 20-30 minutes might be a good start until your child gets the hang of going by himself.

A Chart

For the first few days or weeks, write down when you give your child something to drink and when they eat. Can you glean an idea of how long it takes your child to process liquid and food? This might give you a road map to follow regarding when to make sure your child is sitting on the potty to avoid any messes. If they start making positive steps, their confidence will grow.


Once you start, keep going. Don't give up after a particularly difficult day because those challenges might lead to a breakthrough the next day. Also, start once you wake up. The longer your child stays in her diaper, the more she remains in her comfort zone. If things remain challenging for a long period of time, it might make sense to consider taking a break but try to make sure that you are not making a hasty decision to quit.