How I Potty Trained My 18-Month-Old Toddler {Part 2 of 2}

Minnesota mom blogger

potty training at 18 months

Welcome new visitors! This is part 2 of the true story of how I potty trained my 18 month old daughter in just 1 week.

You’ll want to check out part one of the series before reading below to get an idea of how we started out and what DIDN’T work for us if you attempt the same type of early potty training with your own little one!

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Piper’s potty training got off to a rocky start, (read part 1 to learn about our first two days of potty training) but after a weekend spent in training pants at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, I was ready to get Piper out of diapers for good! If you remember from the first part of my story on How I Potty Trained my 18 Month Old, I decided that we needed to start fresh on Monday with a new plan:

  1. Piper had a new, smaller potty seat to use.
  2. I was stocked on 100% apple juice and clean sippy cups to give her plenty of opportunities to use her new potty seat.
  3. I was committed to keeping my mouth shut and not asking Piper if she needed to use the potty.

potty training 18 monthsI had ordered Piper’s new Baby Bjorn Smart Potty and it arrived early Monday morning, just in time for us to kick off our new potty training plan!

I gathered Piper and Haiden and opened the box. I made a huge deal over Piper’s “brand new potty.” I vocally admired it’s shiny red color. I explained that it was a smaller, Piper-size seat that would sit right next to Haiden’s bigger potty. I said it was the “perfect little potty” for a little girl.

All that talk felt a bit ridiculous, but I 100% reinforced that this new item was a potty especially for Piper! After that, I set the seat up next to Haiden’s potty chair and stepped away from both of them.

Piper had worn a fresh diaper during breakfast, and it was dry when I took off her pajamas to change her clothes for the day. I put her in a cozy long-sleeve shirt, baby legwarmers and socks. I didn’t put underwear on her so she didn’t have to worry about anything getting in the way if she decided to use the potty seat.

Side note: The best part about potty training (besides the end!) is the super cute BabyLegs that you can put on your little ones to keep their legs warm 🙂 

About 10 minutes after I got her out of her diaper, Piper had an accident on the floor. I turned it into a teachable moment and simply told her, “Piper, don’t go potty on the floor. Next time, go pee-pee on your new red potty!”  I made sure to be as upbeat as possible and keep the entire message positive. No scolding, no admonishing.

After taking off her soggy legwarmers, I gave her a cup of juice, cleaned up the carpet (carpet cleaners made for pet stains work the best — I know from experience!) and let her continue playing.

I continued with our morning routine while anxiously waiting for Piper’s next move. Miraculously, I saw her toddle over to her new potty, sit down and almost immediately use it!


baby dealsShe stood up, peeked inside and said, “pee pee pee pee!” I jumped up and down, clapped my hands and said, “Yay, Piper! Haiden, Piper went peepee on the potty!”

Haiden’s such a good big brother; he was more excited than I was! I also gave Piper (and Haiden*) a chocolate chip and said, “Piper, you get a chocolate chip for using the potty!”

I continued to give Piper more juice as soon as her cup was empty. Piper literally returned to the potty every 10 to 25 minutes throughout the morning. Each time she used the potty she got a chocolate chip and hugs, high-fives and positive reinforcement. She also didn’t have a single accident that morning!

At noon, I pulled a pair of cotton underwear on her and brought her to her high chair for lunch. She did have an accident over lunchtime, but I know that’s because she couldn’t physically get to her potty on her own.

When I realized what had happened, I told her, “tell Mama if need to use the potty!” I continued to stay encouraging and positive and brush off the accident as a minor incident.

After lunch, I changed her into a diaper and put her down for naptime. In my opinion, the early stages of potty training only involve staying dry during the waking hours. I truly believe “holding it” during naptime and overnights is a longer process, and I have no issues with using diapers or training pants for the sleeping hours.

When Piper woke up from her nap, her diaper was dry.  I took her back to the room with her potty seat, took off her diaper and let her decide what to do. There were books, toys and plenty of other distractions, but she went right to her potty and used it again!

After much cheering and a chocolate chip, I finally started to feel confident that Piper understood the potty training basics, and we were on our way to letting go of diapers forever! The next few days went incredibly well with Piper drinking lots and lots of fluids and using the potty as she wanted to.

I continued to keep her underwear off to make it as easy on her as possible. We had a few accidents here and there, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle, and she was definitely using the potty far more than not!

One thing that I found amusing was that Piper decided completely on her own that she didn’t want to wear diapers anymore.

During naptime on the second day of potty training, I walked into her room and found her holding her diaper and telling me she had to “go pee pee”.Unfortunately, she had already went in her crib, but a waterproof crib pad had saved her mattress from the mess.

The next morning, I found Piper in her crib with her pajamas unzipped. She was trying to get her diaper off again. After that, we started using Pull-Ups or other training pants for naptime and overnights to acknowledge that she was a “big girl” who didn’t need diapers anymore.

By  the third day, I knew that we had nailed potty training, and I’m convinced the key was to let Piper decide when she needed to use the potty. She’s an independent little girl, and I could tell that it made her feel so proud when she was the one who decided to use the potty.

I fully admit that we still have accidents from time to time. We went through exactly the same thing in the earlier months of potty training my son, Haiden.

At least all this potty training experience comes with some lessons learned, and I’m more than willing to pass them along to you!

potty training at 18 months

Potty Training, 18 Months, Lessons Learned

I’ve come to realize that the following situations create the most “risk” of an accident:

  • Drinking too much water/milk/juice
  • Being away from home
  • Being sick
  • Staying up later than usual

As I was writing that list, I realized that I’m trained just as much as Piper and Haiden are ☺.

Since I’ve learned to recognize the situations where a child might go somewhere other than a bathroom, I’ve become remarkably prepared for any situation.

I have extra underwear and clothing in my car and in our diaper bag. I have an amazing little travel potty seat that makes it easier for both of them to use big toilets. I’m also on high-alert during those times and I’m aware of every single public restroom in the vicinity!

potty training 18 months

I mentioned in part 1 that I also found several potty-training books at our library. I didn’t use them to “train” piper to use the potty. Rather, my husband and I incorporated them into our usual routine just to give her another way to get the message.

While I brought home 3 DVDs and several books from the library, both little ones didn’t care for a few of them, leaving me with this list of their favorite potty books and DVDs:

You can find a more comprehensive list of potty training media in Tried and True Books and Movies to Encourage Potty Training.

potty training 18 months

I truly hope that information helps you in your own adventures in potty training 18 months.

While it’s was an intense time with a shaky start, I can honestly say that potty training Piper at 18 months has left both of us feeling proud of ourselves!

*Giving Haiden a chocolate chip every time Piper used the potty turned out to be a great-but-unplanned strategy on my part! Haiden didn’t feel left out, and he became an amazing cheerleader for Piper’s potty use.

After all, wouldn’t you be cheering your sister on if you were rewarded every time she used the potty?

potty training at 18 months The ebook is here! What will you get in the How I Potty Trained My 18-Month-Old in 1 Week that you won’t find anywhere else? In addition to day-by-day recaps of our potty training experience (including what worked and what didn’t work for us), you’ll get:

  • When Is the Right Time to Potty Train
  • Potty Training Readiness
  • 5 Rules for Potty Training an 18 Month Old
  • What to Do if Potty Training Isn’t Going Well
  • How to Avoiding Accidents
  • Bonus: The #1 Piece of Potty Training Advice
  • Additional Potty Training Resources

All of that material (and more) has been organized into a formatted, easy-to-read, easy-to-reference ebook!

How I Potty Trained My 18-Month-Old in 1 Week can be purchased or it can be borrowed for FREE if you have Amazon Prime! If you purchase the book, I’d be so grateful if you left a review on Amazon sharing your thoughts about the book and what you liked about it.

Be sure to check out my other articles about potty training at any age (not just potty training at 18 months!):


potty training 18 months

If you’re potty training at 18 months and your little one doesn’t want to stay on the potty, try entertaining her with bubbles! Check out my list of 7 complete recipes for homemade bubbles!


  1. Way to go Piper! So happy to hear she is doing so well!
    Question… when did you begin potty training with Haiden and how was it different? If you blogged it in part 1… I will catch up there. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the insight. Even though everyone is different, I’ve been going about potty training in a frustrating way. I also have an older son, and a 18mth old daughter. My son took to potty training rather well, once he was introduced to big boy shorts, he stopped his accidents all together. But my baby girl is having trouble… She likes to play in her poo, she always takes off her diaper if its not buttoned down in a onsie… and she pees where ever she is standing. I’ve flipped out, and spanked, and tried to explain but she isnt getting it. Now that I see your perspective… I feel a bit guilty. I will be trying your method. I wont go about it thinking she will learn as quickly as your Piper… but I will be more patient, and easy going.



    • India, parenting can be tough sometimes! Hang in there, take a deep breath and start over again 🙂 I’ve found that if I try to start each day “fresh” and forget about past potty training mishaps we’re all a bit more relaxed.

  3. My Daughter is Pipers age and I’m wondering if Piper is able to wear panties and pants and still have success with using the potty? While being naked at home is ok for a while, eventually she’ll have to wear bottoms again! : ) Great suggestions though, thanks.

  4. Amber Norville says:

    I SO very much appreciate this potty training story you told! I am getting ready to start potty training my 18 month old daughter, and I have gotten several negative reactions from people. I feel that my husband and I know our daughter best, and we are confident that while there will be accidents along the way, she is really starting to demonstrate that she is ready. I like your relaxed attitude toward the process. My daughter is also very independent and I think this strategy of letting her decide will pay off in the end, despite the messes I will have to clean up along the way, LOL. Also, do you have a favorite cleaner for messes? Thanks!

  5. India, my daughter played in her poop A LOT when she was younger. It got old really fast. I tried lots of things to stop her, and finally came across something that works. Istead of cleaning them with wipes the best you can, then sticking them in a warm bath, give them a cold shower! it sounds mean, and your daughter will most likely hate it (mine did) but it works! It only took 2 cold showers to fix the problem and she NEVER did it again. It gets the cleaning done, but it’s uncomfortable to them and they generally don’t like water in their faces, etc. Like I said, it sounds mean but it works. Hope this helps!

    And thanks for the potty training tips! I am going to try them on my son soon. He will be 18 months tomorrow!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I had such a horrible experience/roller coaster ride with my first son that I’m already exhausted just thinking about traing my youngest. I’m absolutly going to try some of your suggestions and will be sharing them with my circle of firnds! Thanks again and congratulations Piper and Mommy! 🙂

  7. Crystal says:

    Wow. I love hearing stories like this. My son is 14 months old and isn’t walking yet. But he is sooo smart. He talks very well and picks up new words every day. I’m hoping that in four months we will be starting to potty train but everyone I know waits til later.

  8. So trying this next weekend! Don’t think I have anything going on so I’m going to do this Saturday and Sunday and encourage my husband to do it during the week! Thanks so much for the post!

  9. Rochelle says:

    I think 18 months may be a little early for some children, but I use almost the exact same method for my youngest daughter. I didn’t have any problems with any of my children. I think it helped that I always allowed them to come with me in the bathroom and I showed them everything and explained everything. I wonder if you are a stay at home mom, because I have no tips for someone who is not at home with their children all day. Myself, I started encouraging them to use the potty at about 18 months, but if they don’t seem interested or ready I didn’t push it. just kept suggesting and staying positive for a good “try.” So far my youngest (who turned 2 about 3 weeks ago) is doing very very well and I am so proud of her. 🙂 Good luck to all of you. Remember, the most important thing is to stay positive.

  10. Heather says:

    Thank you. I did this with my daughter last week (she will be 19 months in a couple days) and she has been doing great!

  11. Way to go, Heather!!

  12. I have been reading on all kidns of blogs like yours for ideas on how to go about potty training my oldest. She is 19 months. My husband and I were waiting for the shock of her new baby sister to be over with before we began really potty training her. She is interested in the potty and knows what to do on it. She has even told us peepee before, but she doesn’t grasp to tell us before she goes only after. I think we are going to dive right in this weekend. Thanks for the wonderful ideas =)

    Oh we just have a potty seat that goes on the *big kid* potty. Does having a potty on their level make a big difference in trying to potty train or does it really just vary by kid?


  13. Seriously people… spanking and cold showers? Every child is different, you can’t punish you child for not being ready. I understand that playing in their dirty diapers is unexceptable but it is our job as a parent to learn and grow with our children, not repremand them everytime they do something less than perfect! They need to know that no matter what we all make mistakes and have positive reinforcement towards making the right choices… not tramatized by cold showers and thinking they have disappointed us. This was a great story. Not everyone will have the same outcome as all of our kids are different. It says nothing about our parenting if our child is a late bloomer with training. My daughter was trained at 19 months and my son at 21 months… no spanking or cold showers required!!!

  14. I want to thank you for this! I have a VERY independent little boy, who worships his big bubber, so I plan on utilizing this!

  15. Tiffany says:

    I had slight success with my daughter expressing interest a few months ago, she will be 2 in July…however, with also a 6 year old and almost 3 year old, which we were working on potty training as well, and a full time class schedule as I am a nursing student, I was honestly wiped and could not bring myself to be interested in potty training her and dealing with the accidents. I got about a 3 week break between my Spring and Summer semesters at school and though, oh perfect timing to work with her..>FAIL!!! She had absolutely NO interest, would scream at me every time I would tell her to go, and would soil all of her big girl panties within about an hour of waking up. So starting in the morning, as I am a full time mom/student and get to spend every day with my munchkins I will begin your technique. I honestly think that Kymber is just as independent as Piper and despises being told when to go and if I let her have her own free will to do it on her own, we just may be successful. I will keep you posted!! Thanks so much for sharing your journey!!

    Best wishes,

  16. Jenn- Congratulations on your early success with your 19 & 21 month old children. In my experience, that is early for potty training, and if it worked for you that’s great.

    However, please don’t extend your harsh criticism to parents who have not been as fortunate as you. Some parents are blessed with extremely strong willed children who require some discipline to know what is acceptable and what is not.

    Yes, don’t reprimand a child who does ONE thing less than perfect. However, if someone has a child who throws a cereal bowl full of milk at the breakfast table, runs into a busy street of traffic while you are pushing a baby in a stroller and juggling the hands of twin boys, bites his mommy for putting him in a car seat, then goes about pooping in his underwear and smearing it around his room, MAYBE, yes maybe, a cold shower would work. Especially for a mom who is at the end of her rope, whose husband works long hours, and has 4 little boys under the age of 4.

    Yes, seriously people, let’s stop judging each other and just be supportive.

  17. hi from pinterest! 🙂 i stumbled across a link to this post and am so happy i did. my daughter is almost 23 months and as soon as she’s 100% settled in her new bed (we’re on day 3), we’re moving on to potty training. i will certainly keep this page bookmarked as a reference. thanks for the tips and reassurances! 🙂

  18. Wow great post(s)! My daughter is almost 19 months and I might just try this after our vacation. I am not an SAHM anymore (unfortunately) but my hours have been severely cut for the summer and my husband can help me too since he works at night.

    Thanks for sharing your strategies!!


  19. As a mum of three teens – twin boys and a daughter – I’d recommend waiting until they show a definite interest. Not just a bit of interest: a very definite “I want to use the potty” interest.

    Also, remember that boys and girls can be very different. My sons were 2.5 years and it took a while. My daughter did it herself in a day or so. The boys wore night nappies for a fair while after they were dry during the day; my daughter was dry at night a week after she was dry during the day. The boys often had accidents; my daughter had one on the first day and that was it.

    The best advice I ever received was to start the summer closest to their second birthday so they aren’t wearing too many clothes.

    My daughter had just turned two in early December and the weather was very warm (we’re in Sydney, Australia) when she toilet-trained herself. She was wearing a summer dress with just a disposable nappy (diaper) underneath when I found a puddle on the kitchen floor. Took me a while to figure out what it was but eventually I lifted her dress up and discovered she’d taken her nappy off. I hadn’t noticed because she’d put it in the bin!

    I realised there probably wasn’t much point in putting another one on her if she could take it off so easily so I took her into the bathroom and showed her the toilet, explaining that I was fine if she didn’t want to wear a nappy but she’d have to do a wee in the toilet like the rest of us. I didn’t really think she’d gotten it but she nodded and went off quite happily.

    And that was it, really. I found one more puddle on the floor that day and after that she simply trotted off to use the toilet on her own when she needed to. Weird, I know, but true. No-one was more surprised than I was!

  20. Amber Justice says:

    Thank you for this imformation! I am going to start next week with my 20 month old. I am a bit nervous. If anyone has any other suggestions please pass them my way.

  21. Thank you for this article. I’m starting to potty train my almost 2 year old. So hopefully I will have as much success as you did. I work at the preschool that she attends and they are working on her potty training as well. So I really hope that it works out. She already wants to use only the potty at home, but at school it’s a completely different story.

  22. Amazing, but I agree with others…how is she doing when you put underwear and pants back on her?

    I trained my oldest at 2.5yrs old and only because everyone told me he would revert back when we had our second son. I wrote up a grocery list and looked at him and said…”I am not going to buy any more diapers for you” I set a timer for 30mins and every 30mins I took him to the potty (we used a seat attached to the toilet) on day 1…We had 3 pee accidents…upped the timer to 45mins the next day…had 1 pee accident. By day 3 we didn’t have any accidents and he would use a stool to get onto the potty himself. We used pull-ups for long trips away from home and at night only. In 3wks he was completely potty trained and never once looked back. I’m going to try around 22-24mths on my second son when he is better able to communicate and hope it takes 3 days as well.

    • Hi Chavon,
      It’s been over a year since I wrote this post, but our potty training days are still fresh in my mind!

      I have to say first of all that Piper didn’t really give me a choice when it came to keeping her in diapers or potty training her. She would just take off her diaper after I put it on her, and she insisted on trying to sit on the potty chair even though it was too big for her.

      It was more of a struggle for ME once we went back to having her fully dressed during the day, because she’s such an independent spirit and she didn’t want my help with taking off her pants and undies, then putting them back on. She wore a LOT of dresses during that time, and I ended up letting her go commando when we were at home. That just gradually stopped when using the potty wasn’t so new to her and it was more of a routine.

      Going out of the house was better–she was far more compliant when we went places and she let me help her if she had to go potty.

  23. I highly doubt a cold shower would lead to a child being traumatized for life. Different things work for different kids. As long as a parent is not beating their child or putting them at harm for injuries then let them discipline how they see fit.

  24. Hi there-

    What a great and informative parenting tool. I will definitely try this when my son is older.
    I am not sure if someone asked this already; but how did Piper handle pooping that week and since?
    Did she immediately click into the same mode for both peeing and pooping? Would she take her time if need
    be on the potty?

  25. Love finding encouragement for “early” potty training. Even though most of the words kids are done training by 18months its so hard to find support for those of us starting at that age. FYI after a month or two of getting to know the potty. (Every morning we tried for a poo). We officially started with big boy pants today. 5 times in potty, only 3 accidents. I loved the baby signs book (he talks well, but their ideas are great.) And tue early potty training website. Sooo helpful in a country that gets its potty advice from pampered!

  26. Amanda ford says:

    hi i have a daughtrer 29 months and a son of 15 months and i want to set up a potty and start training her but where can i set it up to keep him out of it i know he will just want to play in it and right now when he tried to play with her stuff she tries to pick it up and move it and she tells him, “mommy take it away”. i know once she’s done it will be timeto start him.. help should i just do them at the same time ( o god what a mess that will be) i mean i reading up on it now and potty is goingot be a christmas gift so i have 2 whole months to prepare. i love this method other then the hardwood floor will not like the accident but she is very independant and i think this will work for us.

  27. I’m potty training two kids they are both about to be 3 (one is my daughter and one is my stepson) The pooty training is my worst nightmare, it has been the worst possible experience in my entire life, Ok i may be over doing it but ugh it has been a long, long, long road and i am happy to say we have been doing something close to this for the past 2 days and we had no accidents!! Great post!!

  28. So here is my delimma: I live with my inlaws. My son is 21 months old and I introduced him to the potty at 18 months but he didn’t really get the concept so I didn’t inforce it too much; I would just let him sit there for a few minutes til he got bored a few times a day. Now I have another one on the way and i would really like him out of diapers by the time baby2 comes along (6 months from now). I have read a lot of mom’s doing the no pants method and I would try, but my MIL would freak if he peed on her carpet or her couches (even tho I would be the one to clean it up of course) so I don’t think that method would be very good for the fragile relationship MIL and I have. I know accidents are inevitable, but I’m trying to minimize them as much as possible. Any other ideas? I bribe him with a sucker (his favorite candy, that he does not get very often) if he goes on the potty, but so far he tells me after he goes or sometimes as he is going. I just don’t know what to do. Should I just make him sit on there every twenty minutes and hope something happens, and eventually he feels it coming and tells me before? HELP!

  29. Fun seeing the potty chair. I had a similiar one called saddle potty for my boy 42 years ago and have always felt it was the reason he potty trained so easily at 2 but had not seen one since. In one week he was using potty, emptying and rinsing out. Also worked for long car trips.

  30. Hi, I just read this, and want to say that I had success using the same methods with my both my girls. My older one had just turned 2, and within 3 days she was barely having any accidents. My 2nd daughter was about 18 months. It took her a little longer to go without regular accidents, but by 20 months she was out of daytime diapers completely (with a couple accidents/week). I really think that letting them run around with bare bottoms helps them put the feelings together of how it feels to need to go potty vs. the feeling of wetting themselves. Baby #3 is 10 months, and I’m curious to see if I can have him out of diapers early as well. I will try around 18 months…I think it helps to get into the groove of potty training before they get to be super stubborn around 2 years old. (we used m&m’s as a reward, and we took the otty chair in our van on car rides)

  31. Stephanie L says:

    Loved reading this – mostly the method I used to train my son. He is 27 months and has been more or less day time trained for two weeks.

    My huge question is – POOP!? What to do? My son will hold his poop until he is in a pull up. He will not poop on his potty at all. He mostly does great with pee. He knows he gets a bigger treat for the poop. But he won’t do it.

    The other issue – he will hold his pee until we get home – even if we are gone for 3-5 hours. Is that bad?

    Thanks for any thoughts!

  32. I have an 18 month old but dosent say much words but does understand things I say or ask him to
    Do. Do you think him not talking affects me to potty train him now ?

    • Well, my daughter didn’t have great verbal skills when we started potty training. I think the most important thing is that she understood ME. If you put the potty in an accessible spot where you son can get to it without asking AND he can follow directions, I don’t see why you shouldn’t give it a try.

  33. The reward has to fit the child’s interest in order to work. My son couldn’t have cared less about stickers or M&M’s, but he loves letters, so I made a sign of outlined letters to hang in the bathroom (ex. SWIMMIMG, DINOLAND, GAME, etc…), and each time he went potty he got to color in a letter. When they were all colored in he got whatever the sign said. It worked like a charm and he was completely trained (potty/poops/dry thru the night) in a couple of weeks.

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