Tired of diapers, rewards that don’t work, and drawn-out potty training? Learn about potty training in three days with these instructions!
“We potty-trained our two boys by keeping them undressed around the house for a few days,” a coworker shared. “Without diapers, they were more aware of pooping and peeing, and didn’t like it, so they were more inclined to use the potty,” he explained.
Other words of wisdom came from my mother-in-law. She recently potty-trained another one of her grandkids using the same bare-bottom method. She kept him undressed from the bottom down, and when he felt the urge to pee or poop, he’d run straight to the bathroom.
Before then, I had been lazy with potty training. As expensive as diapers cost, I loved not rushing to the nearest restroom or feeling pressured to keep outings short. A dirty diaper was no big deal compared to messy accidents.
Still, the time finally came to take the plunge and learn how to potty train my son in three days.
Potty training in three days
This is too good to be true, I thought. Just keep him undressed and he’s potty trained? I’ve got to give this a try.
And so I did, over a long weekend. My son was even excited about “potty practice,” as I called it. To my surprise and delight, three-day potty training worked after all. Take a look at fellow parents’ results after reading this article:
“I have to say I am quite shocked on how easy this is especially with twins. It’s my first day alone as daddy has gone to work but no anxiety at all. I think my boys have nailed it. I 100% recommend.” -Natalie
“Omg a method that has finally worked! Going without bottoms on has made him more aware of his body’s need and he is so proud of himself for learning how to use the potty.” -Ashley
So, what’s involved in potty training in three days? Take a look at these simple steps and see how it can work for you as well:
Day 1: Stay home all day with your child bare bottom
The idea behind potty training in three days is to remove your child’s reliance on diapers completely. But instead of simply putting him in underwear, you’re keeping him bare bottomed so that he can be more aware of the physical sensations of his body.
So, for the first day’s schedule, you’ll stay home the whole day and keep him undressed on the bottom. He can wear t-shirts, but don’t put him in diapers, underpants, pants, or shorts.
I was scared and expected the worst: puddles of pee on the carpet, poop smeared everywhere. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as messy as I thought, even for the first day.
Yes, at one point, he did pee as if he were a watering can pouring water all over the floor (we did lots of laundry that day!). But usually he’d start with a few drops before looking up at me, at which point, we’d run to the potty and he’d finish his business there.
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Day 2: Take a one one-hour outing with only pants or shorts
Congrats! You got through the first day staying home with your kiddo bare bottomed and relying on the potty to pee and poop.
Day two will be a repeat of the first, except this time, you’ll leave the house for one full hour without diapers or undies. Yup, even no undies, because he might mistake them for diapers and think he can pee and poop in them.
Instead, have him wear pants or shorts—only for your one hour outing—and head outside. Keep it simple: a walk to a local park or around your neighborhood works great.
You’ll also want to come prepared for your one-hour outing. Make sure to bring:
- a change of clothes and undies
- a plastic bag in case he soils himself
- a roll of towels and wipes for potential clean up
Learn how to get your toddler to poop in the potty.
Day 3: Take two one-hour outings with only pants or shorts
Day three is a repeat of the previous day’s routine for the most part: your child will remain bare bottom for most of the day at home.
But this time, you’ll take two outings with just pants or shorts on (no diapers or undies again). This is to help him get used to being out and about without diapers, and to get a break from being indoors all day.
You could take him to the park for the first outing, then for a walk around the block for the second.
Get more tips on how to potty train a toddler.
Best practices for potty training in three days
As you can see, the process is pretty simple, but sometimes, not always so easy. What do you do if he has an accident right when you step out of the house for an outing? How do you respond if he starts to cry about not wearing diapers? And what if he doesn’t poop for those three days?
Take a look at these best practices for making the potty training process a success:
1. Don’t push if your child isn’t ready
My son looked forward to potty training, so he surprised me when he cried after I removed the diaper. Hadn’t we already talked about potty training? I wondered. Why is he crying about it now?
Still, I knew that resistance is a clear sign that a child may not be ready. Just to make sure, I held him close and asked, “Are you not ready? We can move it back a few weeks if you’d like. But if you think you’d like to try today, I’m here to help you.”
Maybe a little consolation was all he needed, because soon after, he stopped crying and allowed himself to remain bare bottom.
That said, be prepared to hold off for a few weeks if your child resists. She might not be physically or mentally ready for such a big change, and her success will only be held back if she’s upset. Forced potty training—even the three-day method—won’t work.
If she does resist, give yourself a week of not talking about potty training at all, and see how she takes to it after some time has passed. Make sure she’s willing and eager to give it a try.
Check out 6 signs your child is not ready for potty training.
2. Keep rewards internal
Potty training is infamous for rewards, from stickers to candy to new toys. It seems to work, especially in the beginning, but will likely backfire when your child gets bored of the rewards.
I know this firsthand. I’d draw a star on a poster hung on the bathroom door for each time my son peed in the potty. That only worked for some time until the stars lost their appeal and he started to have accidents. Not so coincidentally, he was accident-free as soon as I stopped drawing stars.
Instead, I began to offer plenty of support and descriptive praise instead. He felt good about his progress, all on his own, without external validation from me.
Learn why rewards can backfire.
3. Expect accidents and regression
From little trickles to full-on poop plopped on the carpet, expect some accidents. That’s why I like the term potty practice—it takes practice to master this skill.
Your child will likely improve over the course of the three days. He might have more accidents on the first day than on the others. That said, he still might regress from time to time and have even bigger accidents on the following days than on the first few.
Slight regression is okay so long as you continue to see a general trend of improvement. But if you notice that he’s resisting and regressing too much, try again a week later.
Just as with most things in life, learning a new skill can be a “two steps forward, one step back” process. Take it as it comes and praise him for being a big kid and the hard work he’s putting in. After all, even with accidents, he has still come a long way from wearing diapers.
Learn how to praise your child.
4. Pooping will take time
Your child might be completely pee in the potty after these next three days, but that it might take her time to poop in it as well.
Even with regular bowel movements in the past, my son didn’t poop for the first two days. And while he caught on with peeing 100% in the potty in just a few weeks, he’d still have poop accidents several months down the line.
All that to say that should your child still poop in her undies even though she pees like a champ, don’t worry. Our pediatrician reassured us that kids can take up to a year before being completely poop-trained. After three kids, I can attest to the truth in that statement.
Learn what to do when your toddler won’t poop on the potty.
5. Wear diapers for naps and bedtimes
Should you put your child in undies when he sleeps? The quick answer: No. Keep him in diapers or, preferably, pull-ups.
You see, you can’t really potty training for sleep the way you can during the daytime. Our pediatrician told us that this ability to wake up to pee happens on its own. That’s why it’s still considered “normal” for kids up to eight-years-old to still wear sleep pull ups (only after that age would doctors be concerned).
So, even though you’ve eliminated diapers during the day, put them on when he sleeps. He won’t be able to control his bladder during sleep for a while.
How will you know when he’s ready? A good rule of thumb is that he wakes up with dry diapers consistently, at least five days in a row. After that, you can experiment with putting him in undies for sleep.
Is your 3 ½ year old not potty trained? Check out these 6 do’s and don’ts.
Useful potty training gear
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission—at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase.
Potty training success relies on having the right gear to support your child. Here are a few items to have ready:
- Potty chair to place on the floor
- Toilet attachment to place on the toilet seat
- Step stool to reach the toilet attachment, rest their feet, and wash hands
Don’t forget plenty of towels to cover the couch and common play areas, and to wipe up accidents. And if you don’t already have some, nighttime diapers for sleep are fantastic to keep the sheets dry.
After potty training in three days, your child will eventually be able to go on longer outings wearing undies and avoid pee accidents. He’ll tell you when he has to pee and even hold it in until he’s able to sit on the potty.
And the process is simple. To recap:
- Day 1: Stay home all day bare bottom
- Day 2: Repeat day 1, but go on a one-hour outing, only wearing shorts or pants (no undies or diapers)
- Day 3: Repeat day 2, but go on two one-hour outings
Soon, you can finally be diaper-free for good—even if it took a few accidents over three days to get there.
Get more tips:
- How to Handle Potty Training Poop Anxiety
- Potty Trained Toddler Having Accidents on Purpose
- Is Your Toddler Afraid to Poop in the Potty? 7 Tricks You Can Try
- 8 Simple Ways to Start Preparing for Potty Training
- Your Toddler Refuses to Sit on the Potty? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and sign up for the free 5-day email course, Peaceful Potty Training:
Thanks Nina! My son is quickly approaching 3 and I feel bad because he’s not even close to potty trained. We’ve had potty seats since before he was 2 but he’s not interested and at times down right resistant. I bought a bunch of fun underwear a few months ago hoping I could entice him with no luck. I barely got him to try them on and he said “take hem off!” Over and over until I did. He’ll occasionally sit briefly from time to time on the potty but he never tells me when he’s wet or poopy even if I ask(and already know the answer). Clearly he’s not ready but I feel so much pressure to get him potty trained by grandparents, and other moms some of whom have already trained their kiddo younger than mine 🙁 this is by far the toughest parenting challenge I’ve come across so far! Fingers crossed my little one will be ready soon but I guess I’ll just keep waiting….
Molly, I would feel the same way whenever I’d see kids younger or the same age as my son already potty-trained and wondering for a quick second if I’m not doing enough to help him potty train. Granted I never really tried any active potty training like the 3-day method before, so I don’t know how he would’ve reacted had I introduced it earlier. But he just didn’t seem excited so I was in no rush.
It seems like your son isn’t ready yet, and we just have to remind ourselves when they’re in that stage that they’ll be ready when they’re ready. My kid’s pediatrician even told me that it’s easier to potty train an older child than a younger one if they’re not ready at that point. I would try to tune out other people’s opinions because every kid really is different. I almost feel like we do worse by putting pressure on them to potty train than just seeing if they’re willing to go along with it. His pediatrician mentioned that some kids don’t potty train til 4.5 years old and that that’s perfectly normal, and that everyone WILL potty train (as she said, no one goes to kindergarten in diapers).
Like you, I bought the potty a zillion years ago and also had fun undies lying around lol. I think that’s great and it at least introduces them to the concept of potty training so that it’s not so brand new to them.
I’m just wondering after how long did you put your wee one in undies? I am currently potty training my little girl and we are finding the bare bottom training is working much better than with pants on. But she will be going to daycare on tue and I’m
Worried about her having pants on and having lots of accidents there? Would it help if I started to phase in pants?
I would try doing the three-day bare bottom starting Saturday and go until Monday. Then come Tuesday, you can put pants back on your little one in time for school.
And I would also expect that she will have lots of accidents at preschool 😉 I think her teachers will understand and I’m sure she’s not the only child who will be going through potty training. Let them know that she has just potty trained and provide them lots of extra clothes and undies.
Are they requiring that she be potty trained? Or can they work with her to enforce the potty training she’s learning at home?
I have identical twin boys age 3 both have a global delay so only now I have thought that they maybe ready 1st morning was crazy I wanted to give up wee poo all I’ve the place by the afternoon we had had lots of weed to the potty. Day 2 woke up twin one had taken his pull up off and weed through his cot bars he said no nappies. The second day was totally different they both had realised to run to the potty after a little dribble. We had no poo accidents and they was now going to the potty independently and when I was asking if they needed to go they both said yes or no.
Day 3 it’s only morning but wow we have woken up stippped down I was in the kitchen twin one comes in with a full potty he wanted to tip down the toilet and then twin two did the same so far no accidents and are using the potty independent. I have to say I am quite shocked on how easy this is especially with two. It’s my first day alone as daddy has gone to work but no anxiety at all I think my boys have nailed it. 🙂 I 100% recommend.
Nina Garcia says
I’m so, so glad to hear that, Natalie! We twin moms have it hard, but it doesn’t always have to be double the challenge for everything, as your results prove 🙂 Kudos to getting this huge milestone done!
Ashley Johnson says
Omg a method that has finally worked! My son will be 3 in August but his preschools requires them to be pretty much potty trained. He had been resisting so much and even if we put him in his cool undies he would just wet himself as if he was still in diapers. He understood all the steps of going to the potty and could sit pull his shorts and pull up down and sit on the potty but would never go. Then within 2 or 3 minutes he would wet himself again. But going without bottoms on has made him more aware of his body’s need and he is so proud of himself for learning how to use the potty
Nina Garcia says
Yay, I’m so glad to hear your results, Ashley! Thanks for sharing 🙂