Potty Training Tips for Girls
Baby | Toddlers

10 Stress-Free Potty Training Tips for Girls

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You know it has to be done at some point. You’ve tried to prep her for a couple weeks now, getting her excited about becoming a “big girl” and throwing away the diapers. 

Maybe you’re excited, because after two years of changing multiple diapers a day, you’ll finally be free. 

Or, maybe you’re terrified. Because even though diapers are expensive, they’re actually kind of convenient. And, let’s face it, potty training isn’t exactly a challenge that most parents LOVE overcoming.

When you’re trying to potty train a girl, you need all the help you can get. When my daughter was 24 months, we tried potty training. After it failed miserably, we put away the potty and tried again in 6 months. This time, my daughter learned how to use the potty (without accidents) within 3 days.

What changed? 

Based on these two polar opposite experiences, I’m excited to share my best potty training tips for girls. Hopefully you’ll find some easy hacks to make potty training your girl much easier, and learn from my mistakes that hindered the process.

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When to Potty Train a Girl

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Are you still asking, “When should I start potty training my daughter?”

Such a simple question, you’d think there’d be a simple answer to go along with it! If you’ve been researching how to potty train a girl, your head might be spinning by all of the conflicting advice. 

Let’s talk in general terms first. The “accepted” best time to potty train a toddler is between 18 months and 3 years old. 

A few signs of readiness include:

  • Seeking privacy for peeing or pooping
  • Verbally expressing that they are ready (this seems to be a mythical, beautiful sign that every parent is told to wait for but almost never experiences)
  • Predictable bowel movements and/or peeing less during naps
  • Advanced communication skills: being able to express needs/perform instructions
  • Motor skill development: able to take off clothes
  • Interest in watching you pee

Age vs. Readiness

Some pee experts will advise you to take it slow, wait until you see these signs of readiness even if you have to wait until your child is 3. Other experts are adamant that your child will be ready by “x” time, at which point you should just do it.

I believe potty training is a mix of waiting until your daughter is “ready” and helping her “just do it.” If your little girl is showing signs of readiness at 18 months, go for it. If not, I think it’s totally okay to wait until she’s 26 months before trying. My only caution: don’t wait too long.

From what I’ve heard from other moms, there seems to be some golden window between 24-30 months. This timeline seems to line up with the opinion of influential potty training expert (author of the Oh Crap Potty Training Method) Jamie Glowacki. She believes the best time to potty train is somewhere between 20-30 months. Before and after that window of opportunity can present a few more challenges.  

Personally, I think the most important thing is knowing where your child is at developmentally. If she can communicate what she wants and needs and easily understand instructions, then I think she’s fully capable of potty training. 

Unique Problems Girls Face

I think it’s baloney when people say that boys are harder to potty train than girls. Girl moms have to overcome some difficult hurdles and it’s a disservice not to acknowledge and prepare for them.

Here’s the most difficult battles I experienced while potty training a girl:

  • Pooping: For one, it’s messy. And if you or your girl doesn’t wipe it off correctly, it can get IN THERE. That’s never fun. Plus, it seems like girls withhold more if they feel pressured.
  • Girls Hold it In: And on that note, it seems like girls are more stubborn about holding pee in if they’re pressured, shy, just don’t want to do it, feel dirty, …the list goes on. It has to be at the perfect location, at the perfect time, in the perfect way.
  • Girls Won’t Just Pee Anywhere: This, by far, was the most difficult hurdle to overcome during the early potty training phases. Boys can pee anywhere. Girls can’t. 

Hopefully these factors, as negative as they might seem, give you an idea of what specific challenges you might be facing. 

Don’t worry, Mama. The potty training tips for girls below are designed to help you deal with these unique hurdles and rock this whole experience.

10 Effective Potty Training Tips for Girls

Decide on Your Method (and Stick to It)

Personally, I chose the 3-Day Method and it worked great. My favorite resource for this method was the Oh Crap! Potty Training Book. It’s humorous and got the job done fast!

Choosing the method that works for your family is absolutely essential to the success of potty training a girl (or boy, for that matter). 

If you ask 5 other parents which potty training method is best, you’ll probably receive 5 different, equally adamant answers. It can be so confusing! I think that’s because no one method works universally. 

Do your own research before potty training and select the potty training method that you think will fit your needs and your child’s. 

Here are just a few of the main potty training methods:

  • Child-Oriented or Brazelton Method: Think of it as “gentle” potty training. The goal is to train your child gradually and effectively, without adding pressure. There’s a heavy focus on waiting until your daughter is showing signs of readiness. Once you see the signs, bring out the potty chair and acclimate your child to it slowly. Once she’s able to sit on it without fear or pressure, you’ll begin throwing the waste from her diaper into it. If all goes well, you’ll have your daughter get nakey for a few days and actually begin using the toilet. Once again, this is all meant to be low-pressure. So, any push back from your toddler means that you need to back off. The downside to following The Brazelton Method is that it can take a long time to potty train.
  • The Three Day Method: This is the method I used and I highly recommend it…with a couple caveats. The Three Day Method immerses your daughter into potty training quickly and effectively. If your child is between 20-30 months (give or take) and can communicate effectively, you’re ready for this method. However, prepare to take some vacation, because once you start this process, you need to be 100% committed to ONLY potty training for at least 3 days. If you’re using the Oh Crap! Potty Training book, your potty training will progress in 4 blocks: Block 1, your kid is naked and is peeing or pooping in the toilet/potty chair with or without prompting. Block 2, your daughter is now wearing pants but going commando, and peeing/pooping with or without prompting. Block 3, she’s wearing pants and going on outings. She’s still peeing/pooping with or without prompting. Block 4, pants, underwear, outings, peeing or pooping with or without prompting. Block 5, she’s practically an adult! Consistent peeing/pooping. 
  • Self-Training Method: Wait for your child to express that she’s ready to pee on the potty. Then let her use the potty. This can be done any number of ways, such as going naked, using pull-ups, training pants, or even diapers. You might prompt, you might wait until she says she has to go. Some parents using this method use sticker charts or rewards for that extra incentive to use the potty.
  • Parent-Led Potty Training: Basically, you take your child to the potty at regular intervals and they get the idea eventually.

Whatever method you choose, make sure that you stay consistent with it. Don’t mix and match or get wishy-washy. 

I’m not saying that you need to be so married to a certain method that you stress both yourself and your daughter out. For example, when using the Three Day Method, you might hit a point where it’s time to reassess if this method works for you or if your daughter is ready to be potty trained. However, before you reach that point, commit to giving that method your all. 

My point is, don’t try the Three Day Method one day, then the Child-Led Method the next. Be consistent. Give your girl time to adjust.

Get Her Excited About It

Potty training dolls, educational videos, and books can all improve your daughter’s potty training experience!

Potty training can be fun. Seriously! Watching my daughter’s face light up whenever she made her pee go in the potty was well worth the effort on MY part. When you infuse fun into the process, you’re much less likely to see resistance or regressions. So, whichever method you choose, focus on making it fun for your child and shoulder all of the work part.

Here’s just a few ways you can do that:

  • Buy a potty training baby doll (though, to be honest, my kiddo just plopped her favorite baby on the toilet and that was enough)
  • Watch kid-friendly potty training videos like Daniel Tiger on YouTube
  • Read fun potty training books like P is for Potty or Daniel Tiger’s Potty Time

Use Dresses

The best, most simplest of my best potty training tips for girls: wear dresses.

Dresses will be your best friend while you’re potty training. At first, your little girl’s ability to “hold it” will amount to seconds. If you’re just coming out of the naked stage, a dress is a super easy transitional tool that can eliminate accidents.

Just make sure to hold the dress out of the potty chair!

Do Use a Potty Chair or Potty Seat

I’ve heard boy-moms say it’s easier to teach their boys to pee directly in the toilet. In my experience, going from diapers to the big toilet is difficult for girls. It’s just so hard for little girls to wind their legs around a big toilet, hold themselves upward, and focus on peeing into the toilet. That’s where either toilet inserts or potty chairs make this process easier. 

Over time, you’ll find that your daughter definitely has a definite preference for one or the other, so I’d recommend buying both and let her decide.

My daughter liked to poop on a potty seat and pee in her potty chair before we transitioned to the big toilet.

Potty Training Tips for Girls - How to Potty Train Girls

Help Her “Teach” Her Baby How to Go

Most girls are natural nurturers and teachers. When you encourage her to assist others, you’re helping her apply her newfound skills and solidify what she’s learning.

Personally, I used this method when my daughter started to regress. It was great fun for her to show her baby how to pee correctly on the toilet. She recounted everything I taught her and demonstrated the entire act. This simple potty training trick rekindled her enthusiasm and kick her regression to the curb.

I’ve seen this method work well for boys as well, especially the assertive types that love playing show-and-tell.

Go Commando at First

That is, once your daughter is comfortable enough with peeing in the potty to wear pants, refrain from putting her in underwear. Both my husband and I had reservations about this at first. We were concerned about UTIs and it sounded just weird. So, we used underwear immediately. Big mistake.

As Jamie Glowacki mentioned in her book, there’s just something about underwear that confuses your kid. I think it feels too private or it reminds her of the snugness from her diaper.

Buy Pretty Underwear She Loves

But when you do get to the underwear stage…buy some underwear she loves. Think about something she adores: pets, flowers, princesses, the color pink… Whatever that is, buy her some underwear like that. 

My daughter’s response to accidentally peeing on her “princesses” was much more heartfelt than when she had an accident in plain underwear. It’s a small thing, but it might help!

Perfect the Wipe Slowly

I think we all know that girls should wipe from front to back to avoid contamination and UTI. For some girls, this process can take a little bit to master. Try not to rush your daughter to wipe herself, especially if she isn’t doing it correctly. Demonstrate a few times, praise her when she wipes correctly. Make this simple task a point of pride, “Wow, you wiped ALL of the pee! Good job.” 

Wiping poop can require your assistance for quite a while. While independence should definitely be a main priority, it can take girls a while to grasp the whole “wiping from front to back” concept. 

I began by allowing my daughter to wipe off her pee while I wiped away the poop. Then, as her skill progressed, she would get “first wipe”, while I made the final wipe to confirm that the poop was gone. Wet wipes (such as the flushable kind from Charmin or Cottonelle) are great for streamlining this process. 

Take a Potty Chair With You (Everywhere)

This is one area where boys have the advantage. If you’re on a cross-country road trip and the little guy has to pee, you can just pull over on the side of the road. But a girl? Meh. Some will be happy to crouch down and take care of business. Most prefer something familiar and private. I highly recommend taking a potty chair with you EVERYWHERE until your little girl is almost completely potty trained.

If you’re adamant about not taking a potty chair in the car, at least consider a universal seat cover. I purchased this 2-in-1 travel potty chair because it fits on the commercial toilets one might find at a gas station. It also transforms into a potty chair.

Make the Potty Chair Just About Pee (No acclimation)

Once again, this tip is coming from a mom that is all about the Three Day Method since acclimation is pretty much a foundational point of the Brazelton Method and Self-Training. So, if you decide to try either of those methods, this tip is probably not for you. 

I’ve found that bringing out the potty chair with a single purpose (pee goes in the potty) eliminates so much confusion. 

At first, I was a self-trainer. I brought out the potty chair because I was told you should let your child “get used to it.”Then, eventually, my daughter was supposed to pee in it herself. Never happened. In the end, that potty chair became a lego and treat storage container. Ugh. 

Jamie from Oh Crap Potty Training suggests introducing the potty chair with one very specific purpose. After trying this approach myself, I fully stand by it. Doing this seemed to eliminate confusion as to where potty went and what the chair was used for. 

Some parents are concerned that not allowing an acclimation time will increase the chance of their child becoming afraid of potty training. 

From what other moms have said, anxiety is a pretty common problem with ALL potty training methods. 

My daughter was a little nervous about potty training at first (particularly pooping), but I don’t think this had anything to do with the actual chair. Having said that, it seemed like her fear stemmed from defecating anywhere outside of her diaper (the familiar). 

Get Connected with Other Moms

Whichever method you choose, make sure you get connected with other moms. I firmly believe this is the KEY to success. 

If you choose the three day method, I loved the Unofficial Oh Crap Potty Training Method Book Club Facebook group. It’s so easy to read a book and just expect to follow it and see results. But real life comes with really weird problems. These moms were supportive, told me their stories, and helped me get through my issues. 

BONUS: Nighttime Training

Peejamas Lil C
Lil C wearing her Peejamas. Can’t recommend this product enough! It’s also great for roadtrips.

Nighttime training can be tough. Some parents will choose to night train separately while others knock it out all at once. 

Personally, I held off on nighttime potty training until I saw some good progress with daytime training. At this point, my daughter had developed a “pee pattern” and I could much more easily ensure that she was peeing before bed. Once again, I think this largely depends on your daughter’s personality. 

When I started to nighttime potty train, I used the potty training pants “Peejamas” with great success.

About 1-2 weeks after I started potty training (when she wasn’t filling her diapers at night, I explained that we weren’t wearing diapers at night anymore. We were wearing “big girl pajamas.” Peejamas offered a great transition from diapers to nothing. Although the pants contain a waterproof lining, they didn’t seem to confuse her at all. It also did a great job of keeping any accidents in. 

Plus, you’re saving diapers!

Do You Have Any Potty Training Tips for Girls?

How to Start Potty Training Girls

Potty training can be tough but once you do it, it’s so worth it! Having a potty trained toddler is a huge convenience and the pride it instills in your little girl really warms your heart. 

I discovered many of these techniques by research on the fly or by hard-learned experience. Hopefully these little tips on how to potty train girls help boost your success.

If you’ve happened across some great ideas that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you! Potty training can be such a challenging experience simply because of the uniqueness of each child and situation. The more potty training tips for girls the better!

If you have questions about my experience, I’d love to help you. Just let me know in the comments below. 

Good luck!

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