Potty Trained in 4 Days: The 6 Toilet Training Essentials We Used

We’ve just completed a week of hardcore toilet train. And when I say hardcore, I MEAN IT! We didn’t go out for four days. I am exhausted, the washing machine is knackered, but at last my daughter is prancing about in her pants, as pleased as punch that she can use the toilet like a grown up. Want to know how we did it in just four days? Here are our essentials:


1. Elizabeth Pantley’s No-Cry Potty Training Solution

I do think the whole process has to be simple – practice makes perfect. But Elizabeth Pantley’s No-Cry Potty Training Solution (£9.55, Amazon) did help me spot the signals that my daughter had to pee in the first 48 hours when she wasn’t used to telling us yet. It also made me think about the emotional side, what my daughter might need to hear, and how we could create good habits. It also made me question how ready she was; we put it off for a few weeks until I was sure we could crack it confidently. We also read that it might be good to have a few short storybooks in the bathroom—no. 2s are more likely to go smoothly if the child is reading, relaxed, and distracted.


Buying knickers was a big incentive for our daughter. She loved them. She put them on and knowing she was NOT going back to nappies. We used pull-ups for a few days during naptime and bedtime. Then, the nappies came out under the new guise of “nighttime pants“. A few accidents later, I think she realised she didn’t like the feel of wet pants and that it was easy to pull them down and go to the toilet. My absolute favourite of the array we now have are from The Little White Company – a proper gusset that doesn’t sneak up their butts, a lovely soft cotton and they seem to wash well. We also stuck to loose pyjama-style trousers for a few days so they could be pulled up and down in a hurry. We have pull-up nappies on standby for very long car journeys, but so far, so good…

3. Stickers

We somehow managed to convince our daughter that choosing a ‘I used the Toilet!’ sticker and putting it on a bit of card was enough of a lure to sit on that cold porcelain. No chocolates required.

4. A DVD

We had been given a DVD of 5-minute Thomas The Tank Engine episodes a long time ago, but because we save TV watching for emergencies (flights, illness, a mama on deadline!), we stashed it in a cupboard. I decided that these super-quick episodes could be another good incentive for peeing in the toilet, and boy, did it work. I actually credit Thomas, that Really Useful Engine with our girl being clean and dry by the third day of training.

5. Trainer Seat

We decided against using a potty just because our toilet is on the ground floor and we didn’t fancy training her again to go from the potty to the toilet. Our existing toilet seat has a ‘training seat’ attachment—a small seat that slots over the first—but we got a Thomas The Tank Engine Comfi Training Seat from Mothercare for my mother’s house and it is SO much better. A little wedge forces the legs apart a little so the wee doesn’t fountain out over their laps, and I would imagine would do the same for little boys.

6. Flushable loo seat covers

These are essential for going to the loo on the go – kids are prone to grabbing at the loo seats no matter how grotty they look, so this is a real comfort. They also prevent slipping, and are covered with bright designs to hold their attention.

Image: Getty/Jessie Jean