Toilet training in 3 days or less

There are so many ways to go about toilet training or potty training your child. You may want to read up on a number of different options before you start, but this method of toilet training them in 3 days or less is definitely worth a look. The idea that your child could get comfortable using the potty in a few days may seem unbelievable to parents expecting toilet training to be a lengthy and difficult process. But 'quick-training' works for many parents and it isn't a recent trend.
There are so many ways to go about toilet training or potty training your child.

You may want to read up on a number of different options before you start, but this method of toilet training them in 3 days or less is definitely worth a look.

The idea that your child could get comfortable using the potty in a few days may seem unbelievable to parents expecting toilet training to be a lengthy and difficult process.

But 'quick-training' works for many parents and it isn't a recent trend.

Toilet training in 3 days or less


Quick toilet training

Psychologists Nathan H. Azrin and Richard M. Foxx published the book that started it all, Toilet Training in Less Than a Day, in 1974.

Since then, numerous experts have come up with their own accelerated potty training methods. 

In this article we'll explain one technique - the 'potty training in 3 days' strategy outlined in Julie Fellom's Diaper Free Toddlers programme, with step-by-step instructions on how to make it work for you.

However, one thing to bear in mind is that using this or other quick-training methods doesn't mean that your child will be perfectly potty trained in days.

Instead, 'success' is more likely to mean that your child is using the potty or toilet rather than nappies, but they may still have accidents and you'll need to help them with parts of the process.

Helping your child become fully comfortable using the potty or toilet independently, and teaching steps such as how to pull their pants down and back up, empty the potty and wash their hands will probably take months of follow-up effort.

It's a good idea to think of the 3 days as the kick-start to an ongoing process.

When it comes to the basics of toilet training, the most important thing to remember is that there's no 'correct' way to potty train your child - except for the one that works for you and your family!

Are you ready for potty training?

Fellom's technique requires commitment, focus, and dedication.

It's a 'bare-bottomed' method, meaning that for 3 months after you initiate potty training, your child will need to go naked below the waist when they're at home and wear just loose-fitting pants with nothing underneath when they're out and about or at daycare.

Nappies and training pants are okay for nap time and bedtime, but if you rely on them more often you'll undo your potty training progress, Fellom says. "If you really want this to work, it only works naked. There are absolutely no pants in the house for the first 3 months."

That said, some parents aren't comfortable with this requirement and find ways to work around it.

What you'll need for your potty training weekend

You'll need standalone pottys to use at home (ideally one for every main area where you spend time, plus any bathrooms), plenty of water or diluted juice to drink, and snacks that encourage peeing (either salty ones that make you thirsty, such as crackers, chips, and cheese puffs, or foods with high water content such as watermelon).

You'll also want to have supplies for cleaning up accidents (such as rags, cleaning solution and a plastic bucket) and several pairs of loose-fitting pants for your child to wear when you go out of the house.

Optional: It's helpful to have a compact, portable travel potty to take out and about, though you could use a small standalone potty instead.

You may also want to put a small towel or absorbent pad over your car seat to protect against accidents. Fit it around the car seat straps and buckle and you'll have a very absorbent, washable, reusable pad.

How to potty train in 3 days

A month or so before you start, check that your child is demonstrating signs that they're ready for potty training.

For Fellom, this includes staying dry for 2 or more hours at a time, asking to use the potty, refusing to have a nappy on, and going to the toilet at a regular time each day.

Fellom prefers to use her method with children younger than 28 months, saying that after this age they may be more resistant to potty training, but she also works with older kids.

Things to consider:
  • Clear your diary and plan to spend an entire long weekend – all 3 days – focused on potty training. Cancel regular weekend activities, and make sure your potty training partner can be around all the time for at least the first 2 days if possible to help out.
  •  Make up a 'potty dance' with your potty training partner. The goal is to celebrate your child's successes and give them an incentive to continue.
  •  Two to 5 weeks before your potty training weekend, start educating your child about using the potty. When you, your partner, or another family member needs to use the bathroom, take your child along so they can observe how you pull down your pants and underwear, sit on the toilet, wipe yourself, pull up your pants and underwear, flush the toilet, and wash your hands.
  • You can even have your partner accompany you and your child into the bathroom and do the potty dance for you after you go. "If the parents do the potty dance for each other, the child understands that it's fun and sort of a 'family event' when a family member uses the potty," Fellom says.
  •  You can also use family pets to demonstrate the concept of going to the potty to your child. Point out when your pet is going to the potty in an appropriate place, such as a litter box or a spot outside.
  •  If you're able to, buy several potty chairs or arrange to borrow some from friends and relatives. Put a potty in every main room and bathroom in your home.

The week before you start

Show your child a stack of nappies and explain that starting Saturday (or whenever you schedule your 3 days to begin), there will be no more need for nappies and that they can be naked and nappy-free.

Present this as a fun and exciting development, Fellom advises, as in, "When these are all gone, you don't have to wear nappies anymore! You can be naked!"
"One of the reasons this method works so well - and why it's called Diaper Free Toddlers - is that children this age love to be naked! They don't give a hoot about potty training. Their goal is to be naked and nappy-free," Fellom says.

On day 1 of potty training

Get up with your child as soon as they wake up. For the rest of the day, have them go naked below the waist. You and your partner spend the day taking turns watching your child for signs that they need to go to the toilet. When they start to go, whisk them off to the nearest potty.
Throughout the day, have everyone eat salty snacks or foods with high water content and drink a lot of liquids so they have to pee often.
Any time you or your partner needs to use the bathroom, take your child in with you. Demonstrate how you pull down your pants and underwear, sit on the toilet, wipe yourself, pull up your pants and underwear, flush the toilet and wash your hands.
Celebrate your child's success any time they get a 'hit' on the potty rather than on the floor. When this happens, do your potty dance. You can also give praise, high-fives, and so on. After 10 to 12 hits, Fellom says, kids usually get it and start to use the potty independently.
Before nap time and bedtime, tell your child it's time to use the potty (never ask your child, because he'll usually say no). Put a nappy on your child before they go to sleep, unless you feel confident that they'll remain dry.

On day 2 of potty training

Follow the instructions for day one. The only difference is that on day 2 you can all go outside together for 1 hour in the afternoon. Wait until your child pees in the potty, then head out immediately.
"You want to link using the potty with getting to leave the house," Fellom says. This way you can "train your child to pee on command" before you go out.
When you go out, have your child wear loose pants with nothing underneath – no nappies, training pants, or underwear. Your goal is to make it out and home again accident-free, without having to use the potty while you're out, but bring spare clothes in case you're not so lucky.
Fellom advises sticking close to home and not going in the car. Go for a walk or head to a park nearby. Take a portable travel potty with you, in case your child says they need to go while you're out, but that's fairly unlikely at this early stage.

On day 3 of potty training

Follow the instructions for day 1, but on day 3 your family can go out for an hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon. Each time, have your child use the potty just before leaving the house.
Again, when you're out have your child wear loose pants with nothing underneath. Bring your travel potty and a change of clothes.

After your potty training weekend

After the long weekend, expect that your child will usually take themselves to the potty when they need to go, or tell you or your partner that they need to do so. But to seal the deal, some follow-up needs to happen.
For the next 3 months, have your child go naked below the waist when you're at home. (You can use nappies for naptime and at night time as needed. When out, including at daycare, have your child wear loose pants with nothing underneath.
Fellom believes that training pants and underpants feel like diapers to a child, and that using them before 3 months have passed encourages your child to start peeing in them again. After 3 months with no accidents, your child can start wearing underpants and no longer needs to go bare-bottomed at home.
When you're out and about, keep your portable travel potty in the car and be aware of public bathrooms nearby.

You can use a potty training seat on public toilets if you like (the kind that fits over the toilet seat and helps kids feel more secure on adult-size toilets), but it's not necessary. Instead, just help steady your child on the toilet and wash your hands and your child's afterward.

What if your potty training weekend doesn't do the trick?

If your child doesn't have the hang of using the potty after your potty training weekend, Fellom recommends waiting 6 to 8 weeks and trying again.
Says Fellom: "If your child is having less than a 75% success rate or worse, or doesn't seem to notice the pee running down there leg, stop and try again later."

Pros & cons of potty training in 3 days

The upside
Fellom's potty training weekend can be a helpful and easy-to-follow way to jump-start your potty training process. If you’ve dreaded potty training, worried about how to start, or wondered how to teach your child to actually use the potty rather than just sit on it, Fellom's approach may be a godsend.
Even with follow-up and setbacks, the method works quickly compared with other approaches. This has many benefits: You'll save yourself time and frustration, your child will be proud of their accomplishment and independence, and you'll save money and help the planet by eliminating nappies earlier.
Fellom's approach doesn't use treats or other rewards (other than an enthusiastic potty dance), so it can help you avoid having to bribe your child into using the potty.
This method accentuates the positive and helps make potty training fun and exciting for your child, and may win over a child who has resisted using the potty or never shown interest.
The downside
Being mostly housebound for 3 days while you watch your child's every move and whisk them to the potty is draining. It may be hard for 2 working parents to both get the day off to devote to potty training and, if it doesn't work the first time around, to take another day off 6 to 8 weeks later.
Depending on your childcare situation, it may be hard to complete the follow-up process. You may have to negotiate with your childcare provider to keep your child out of nappies, underwear, and training pants while they're in their care.
The requirement that you keep your child bare-bottomed while at home may be inconvenient or difficult, particularly if it’s cold and you are trying Fellom's method in the wintertime. To avoid skyrocketing heating bills or a chilly child, you may want to wait for warm weather before having your potty training weekend.

Tips for potty training success

To make Fellom's method work for you, parents who've used it advise:
  • "Have a no-returns attitude. You have to say this is totally it and be fully committed that weekend." – Antje
  •  "Don't spend so much time dreading it. It went so much easier than we ever thought it would. If I'd known how easy it was I'd have investigated it sooner. [Using Fellom's approach] totally took away our fear about potty training." – Teresa
  •  "Pick a part of your house that has wood, tile, or linoleum floors that are easy to clean. Set up a bunch of your child's toys and activities and get comfortable. We spent almost the whole weekend in our kitchen and it worked really well – we could clean up accidents easily and keep the room warm with a heater. We also made cookies!" – Marcella
  •  "Make it a party atmosphere ... something exciting [for your children]." – Antje
  •  "Think, 'I'd rather suffer through 3 exhausting days than suffer for months.'" – Jeanine

Other potty training approaches

If you're interested in quick-training, here are some alterations to Fellom's method that might make the process work better for you:
  • Instead of a potty dance, use other rewards, such as stickers, treats, or the promise of big-kid underwear.
  • Instead of taking your child into the bathroom with you, use a wet-on-command doll to demonstrate the process of peeing on the potty.
  • If you decide against the quick-training approach, there are plenty of other options for potty or toilet training toddlers more gradually.

More toilet training articles to enjoy:

Source: BeDRY; image source: babycenter

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