What to do before you start potty training

We have officially stopped adding pull-ups to our grocery budget.

Okay, technically, we stopped about two months ago, but I can’t say this enough: I’m done with potty training!

Kid3’s potty training journey only took a month and a few days, and she was completely trained for the days and the nights.

We actually started training in the beginning of the year, and it was going well. Then we stopped during winter because it was just a little too cold. Really, it was just her not wanting to use the potty while she felt cold. I just went with it.

The record holder in our family is Kid2, who potty trained himself. He just told me one day he wanted to use the loo, and went. That was it. No accidents, no extra laundry. Nada.

If only it was always this easy, right?

Those two words. Potty training.

After the newborn stages with all my kids, that’s one phase I wasn’t looking forward to.

When I was reading up on potty training with Kid1, I had a horrible idea of what potty training consisted of. Messes, laundry, crying. The mama crying, that is.

It seemed like every single post I read had more negative feedback on potty training than positive, and as a first-time mama, I was gutted when it came to the potty training stage. How was I to survive this??

And then came the frustrations and the tears.

I had a rough time with potty training Kid1. He just refused to use the potty or the loo. It was around the time that Kid2 was born so I had a newborn to care for, as well as a toddler who didn’t want anything to do with potty training.

We didn’t have Kid1’s Asperger’s diagnosis yet, and all I kept thinking was what am I doing wrong? Why won’t he take interest in this? All the other kids in his pre-school were busy training and he just refused.

I cried. I cried a lot. I was tired of washing out soiled clothing. I was frustrated, and I felt so alone because no one else I spoke to had this “problem”. There was no one I could relate to.

I felt like I was failing my child.

One mama told me, “No child goes to big school wearing pull-ups” yet this didn’t make me feel any better about it.

Kid1 finally started using the loo about a month before his fifth birthday. It was just after we had his diagnosis from his play therapist and we found an approach to take with him. To help him conquer his anxieties.

After the experience I had with Kid1, I knew that I could handle any potty training experiences ahead of me.

After successfully potty training three kids, with all the ups and downs we faced, I thought of putting together a few tips to help other mamas embarking on this journey.

These tips will help you prepare before starting potty training and helping you and your child prepare for the big event: potty training.

11 things to do before you start potty training #pottytraining

Look out for signs

There are many signs of readiness to look out. These signs can range anything from hiding when they need to pee or poop, asking to use the loo, pulling on their pull-up, waking up dry from a nap, telling you they have done a deed and need to be cleaned, etc.

The amount of signs might vary from child to child, but it’s important to see these signs and already start getting your child interested in potty training.

Pull ups

If you’re thinking it’s time to start potty training, but aren’t using pull-ups yet – make the switch. Pull-ups are much easier to use while training because your child can easily pull them down and up on their own, making it a more comfortable experience.


If your child has an interest in a certain character, it’s a nice idea to buy them undies with prints on them. There’s an immediate ‘connection’ and interest, and you can already start using the undies during the training, switching between them and pull-ups.

Buy a potty

This should actually be right at the top. You can’t really start potty training without a potty, right?

There are so many on the market to choose from, it can feel overwhelming! Some have lights, some play music, some make flushing noises! How do you even choose?

You don’t need to have the fanciest product on the market to successfully potty train your child. Before we bought Kid3 hers, I looked around at the different options and we narrowed down on two that we liked, which were also within our budget. We then let her choose which of the two she wanted, and she chose the Fisher-Price Penguin Potty. To make her feel like it’s hers, we let her decorate it with stickers, just for the fun of it.

Potty seat

Alternatively, you can skip the potty and go straight for a Toilet Training Seat which fits right onto the toilet. We used the Snookums one with Kid2 and it worked wonderfully. You might need to purchase a Bumbo Step Stool as well so that your child can reach the top of the toilet to use it.

If your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed (it can be frightening to some) to use the actual toilet, you could skip buying a potty and use these products instead.

Wet wipes

I don’t think mamas ever stop buying wet wipes, even when you’re done with the nappy and pull-up stage (I haven’t). Having wet wipes in the bathroom to help clean your child after they’ve used the potty is really useful and make a easier clean. Your child is already use to the texture so it’s not another new thing you’re introducing to the routine.

Hand sanitizer

While hand sanitiser is pretty much a ‘must‘ now, it’s versatile enough to make it into my potty training items list.

Sometimes, there will be smudges of sorts, just putting it out there… You can’t immediately get to washing your hands while still needing to get your child dressed again. I always had a bottle of hand sanitizer at hand to clean my hands after cleaning Kid3 to cleanse my hands, help them get dressed and then proceed with the rest of the clean up.


Personally, I didn’t use any books to explain to my kids about potty training to get them excited about it.

I know of other mamas that swear by the books, that helped a lot with their children to help along the journey. There are so many books on the market to choose from, even specific ones for girls and boys. Takealot has a wide selection of books to choose from.

It’s something to try if your child takes interest in books at this age already.

See and do

I don’t remember a time when my kids left me alone when I needed to go the bathroom. Each time there were stares and puzzled expressions. I always explained why I use the toilet and what I’m doing.

I know it might sound like a strange conversation to have but it helped to build on their understanding of using the toilet and why we use it.

Talk about it

Talk about potty training, use the correct terms. Raise the awareness around it. It’s not something you need to leave for the day you actually start the training. By giving them understanding of it, creates security and assurance for the journey ahead.

Reward system

There are many reward systems you can choose from.

Each reward is specific to the child. Some might enjoy getting little toys for x amount of successful tries, others might prefer treats.

You can use a reward chart with stickers, which your child can stick themselves each time they use the potty successfully. It also creates encouragement to use the potty again, because what child doesn’t like playing with stickers, right?

Just remember. Kids are different and work at their own paces, some are quick and others a little slower. There’s no need to get discouraged. Take it as it comes.

I went through the stage with Kid1 where I thought there would be no end in sight, and we conquered the milestone eventually!

Good luck to you and your kiddo, and I hope these tips help both of you adjust and prepare as best as possible.

What you should do before you start potty training #potty training

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