How To Potty Train A Girl In 5 Quick Steps
Last updated: September 13, 2017
Parents everywhere let out a collective sigh of relief the moment their toddler is potty trained.
In many ways, potty training girls is a significant milestone. In part because it is a sign of maturity, but mostly because of the stress it takes out of your life. The days of dirty diapers are over, and now you have more free time to reap the rewards of being a parent!
But reaching that coveted milestone is no easy path. And while some parents have the good fortune to have toddlers who seem to have been born with the automatic ability to poop and pee in the potty, most parents aren’t so lucky. Instead, their path is filled with soiled floors, ruined underwear, crying bouts and other accidents that make them feel like pulling their hair out!
But you’re luckier than most. First, we assume that you have a baby girl (if you have a boy, go check out our potty training for boys article here). And that’s good news because on average, girls are not only easier to potty train than boys, they potty train earlier too! Yay!
And second, because you’re reading this article, you will soon have all the knowledge you need to successfully potty train your girl.
We know first-hand how stressful potty training can be; which is why we’ve created the ultimate guide on how to potty train a girl. It’s time for you to get the potty training milestone out of the way.
Girls mature quicker than boys. This is a biological fact and because of this, they tend to develop more advanced mental and physical skills at an earlier age. So it’s no surprise that they would also be potty trained at an earlier age.
Another factor is attention span. Think about the words ‘little boys’ attention span’; what comes to your mind? That’s right, hyperactive boys who can barely focus on one thing at a time. In contrast, girls also tend to have longer attention spans. This means more focused and productive potty training sessions.
And finally, we have fastidiousness. We have no idea why, but girls are just more fastidious than boys; they care more about being clean and proper. Is it a biological or an unconscious socio-cultural thing? Either way, this means that girls are simply more motivated when it comes to potty training.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the 5 key steps for potty training girls.
Know when she is ready
While it is true that girls potty train earlier than boys, normally at around 1.5 to 2.5 years of age, you can’t just rush into potty training. That would be counterproductive. Instead, learn to recognize the signs that your little girl is ready to use the potty. This will lead to a more successful potty training journey.
Here are some of the usual signs:
- Strong visible discomfort at soiled diapers; wants to get fresh ones as soon as possible.
- Dry periods lasting a couple hours or more, an indication of more developed bladder muscles.
- Tells you that she needs to poo and pee before she does it.
- Understands the meaning behind the words ‘poo’ and ‘pee’ or its equivalents.
- Shows interest and curiosity in using the bathroom, such as by following you inside.
- Able to sit still for at least a few minutes at a time.
Watch for her cues!
In addition to observing your girl to gauge whether she is ready to be potty trained, you should also make an effort to recognize the little cues she makes when she needs to go.
Trust us, this will be VERY useful once you actually begin the potty training process. You won’t always have much time between the point of her telling you she needs to go and getting her to the potty! That’s what makes recognizing the cues so important!
Every child has different cues but the most common ones are fidgeting and restlessness. Some of them will even do the “pee-pee dance” coupled with hands shaking by their sides or holding their genitals.
Bottom Line: Observe the listed signs that indicate your girl may be ready for potty training. Don’t forget to learn to recognize the cues for when she needs to go as well; it’ll make your life easier!
Get her comfortable with the potty
Should you use a potty or a toilet? We can’t answer this one for you, this will be up to your child. All we can say is, some girls are more comfortable with potties while others have no problems with jumping straight onto the toilet.
Get her comfortable with the potty
The next step is to get your girl familiar with the potty. And what better way than to let her choose her own potty? There are all sorts of potties available on the market today, from the stereotypical girly-girl potties to something that’s a little bit more restrained.
If your daughter has a favorite doll or stuffed animal, you can use it to help her get familiar with the potty. Just let her favorite toy sit on the potty, to show her it’s alright. Also, let her make her potty ‘her own’ – if she wants to decorate it with stickers or drawings, let her!
Why she might not want to use the toilet – fear of falling in
Sure, as adults you may laugh at the notion of being afraid of falling into the toilet bowl. But you probably can’t remember what it’s like to be a toddler, and in fact, toilets can be dangerous for toddlers. So make sure you supervise whenever she uses the toilet!
Use a potty seat
You can try to minimize the fear of falling in by using a potty seat; these seats will make the ‘hole’ smaller and more appropriately sized for her.
And of course, don’t forget to get a step stool for her to reach the toilet as well.
Often, the loud flushing sound can be scary to your toddler. If you are potty training her using the toilet, make sure you wait until she’s off the seat to flush. Even better, let her flush it herself so she feels in control!
Bottom Line: Your daughter will decide whether to use the potty or the toilet for training purposes. In any case, make it easy for her by letting her choose her own potty and decorating it. In the case of the toilet, safety is paramount so ensure you accessorize your toilet accordingly. Wait until she’s off the toilet seat before you flush, or better yet, let her do the flushing!
Show her how to wipe the right way
When it comes to technique, potty training boys is much messier; no doubt about that. Aiming is not an issue when it comes to girls, while aiming is still an issue among many fully grown men! However, proper technique is actually more important when it comes to potty training a girl for one reason – hygiene.
Teach her the right wiping technique
Teach your girl the proper wiping technique – front to back. This is important to prevent urinary tract infections. Some toddlers may not have the requisite motor skills to wipe themselves properly at first. As a temporary measure, teach them to pat themselves dry instead. In the case of bowel movements, you may need to physically assist your girl in the wiping process until she can do it herself.
The easiest way for her to learn proper technique is through live demonstration. If you’re a dude and reading this, get her mother or a trusted older female to give a live example.
Identifying urinary tract infections
Don’t be too worried about your toddler developing urinary tract infections; they’re easily detectable if you recognize the signs. The signs are:
- Frequently needing to urinate or a sudden urge to urinate
- Painful sensation while urinating
- Complaining of pain in her abdomen or pelvic area
- She suddenly starts to wet herself even after mastering bladder control
If any of the signs above occur, please visit your pediatrician.
Bottom Line: Teach proper wiping technique early and reinforce it often to prevent urinary tract infections. If possible, use live demonstration for the best results.
Make potty training a fun game
The easiest way to learn something is to make learning fun. And the easiest way to make learning fun is to present it in the form of a game!
And just like all games, there needs to be a system for tracking progress and of course, incentives for progress. Now you may be asking “what do you mean by incentives, is it the same as bribery?” and the answer is a definite yes!
You see, unlike politicians or corporate executives, bribing toddlers is perfectly fine, just as long as you don’t overdo it of course. By that we mean that overreliance on unhealthy sweets and candy, no matter how much your little girl may love them, will do more harm than good.
So what’s the best reward? Positive love and affirmation, of course! These are not only unlimited in supply but has only beneficial effects. Though, you may have to break out the sweets and candies occasionally for the more difficult situations. Use your judgment.
Reward charts with stickers work like magic!
Potty training charts, which come equipped with colorful stickers and designs, are the best way for your toddler to see her own progress. This will also help nurture a sense of self-accomplishment and achievement.
Another good way to make potty training more exciting is by using coloring tablets to change the color of the water in the toilet. They’re surprisingly effective at motivating your kids to use the potty. You can use them for the bath as well.
Bottom Line: Kids love games and while potty training may be a stress relieving milestone for you, for her it’s just a game! Chart her progress and don’t forget to keep rewarding her to reinforce her progress. Use coloring tablets for a little extra fun!
Transition from wearing diapers to pull-ups to panties
The main aim of potty training is to get your little girl wearing panties instead of a diaper. However, this process is easier said than done and can often be messy.
In the initial stages of potty training, it is quite common for your child to wet herself a little before she realizes she has to go. If she transitions from diaper to panties immediately, the number of soiled panties can really rack up!
It is therefore advisable to use pull-ups (aka training pants) as the middle ground between diapers and panties. Think of them as training wheels for your toddler!
Disposable pull-ups offer great convenience
Disposable pull-ups are truly a godsend for busy parents. They are absorbent just like a diaper but have the ease of usage just like panties. The elastic band at the waist makes it easy for you or your toddler to quickly slide the pull-ups up and down when she has to go. Your little girl can learn and get used to the idea of pulling her pull-ups (and later on panties) down to use the potty and back up again when she is done.
In the initial stages where accidents are frequent, pull-ups are much better than panties. They can absorb your toddler’s pee so you don’t have to keep changing her wet panties.
Once your child has fewer wet episodes, you can make the switch to panties.
Shopping time? Shopping time!
Get your little girl excited about mastering potty training by taking her on a clothes shopping spree! Sure, girls and shopping are a stereotype, but we all know it’s (mostly) true. And since being potty trained means no more diapers and pull-ups, take her shopping for new panties!
Explain to her that she can start using all these cute panties once she’s potty trained and she will be even more excited to start! The more she likes them, the more motivated she will be as she will not want to soil her favorite panties!
You may notice that your little girl still wets the bed at night even though she is fully potty trained by day. Relax, this is perfectly normal. Nighttime bedwetting happens because your toddler’s bladder muscles are not developed enough and is usually involuntary. Over time, her bladder muscles will strengthen and she will no longer wet the bed.
In the meantime, you can use pull-ups at night. You should also try limiting her water intake before bedtime to minimize accidents.
Bottom Line: When making the transition from diapers to panties, use pull-ups! They’re absorbent just like diapers but have the ease of usage like panties. Take your daughter out shopping for her own cute panties, so that she’ll be super motivated! Nighttime bedwetting is normal and will eventually stop as your toddler’s bladder develops.
In the era of clickbait and instant gratification, it is not uncommon to see numerous articles with titles like ‘Potty train your child in 3 days’ or ‘How I potty trained my daughter in less than a week!’.
Is it possible to potty train your kid in such a short period of time? Yes!
If your kid isn’t potty trained by that timeframe, does that mean you’ve failed? Absolutely not!
Accidents and regressions are part of the process
Even when you think you’ve got your kid potty trained, accidents can and will happen. Sometimes, your kid may regress and you may need to repeat part of the training process.
Don’t despair! Remain patient and never take your anger out on your toddler! It is counterproductive and she won’t even understand why you are getting angry at her. Remember, it’s not her fault. As the parent, it is your responsibility to remain calm and trust the process.
Want an Extra Detailed Guide for Potty Training Girls?
We hope you got value from reading this guide. However, it is merely a basic primer on potty training a girl. If you want an easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan for potty training, you should check out this video below. It is packed with proven strategies to produce positive results.