How to conquer potty training—at the right time

Here are some basic ways to determine potty training readiness.

How to conquer potty training—at the right time

Here are some basic ways to determine potty training readiness, including some tried and true tricks of the trade for helping your little one be more independent in the bathroom.

When to start

I know everyone probably wants to know a precise age for when they should toss the diapers to the curb, but unfortunately, for this skill, every child truly is different. There are so many factors involved, like muscle control, child's temperament, male vs. female urinary systems anatomy and cognition level.

Potty training typically emerges anywhere from age 18 months to 3 years old. Anywhere in between that very wide age gap is considered normal.

My theory is, it is never too early to start teaching potty concepts and words.

It might seem like a daunting task to figure out when you should start potty training your child, but fortunately, there are three very important pre-readiness skills hat can help you determine if your child is ready to start.


1. The child knows when they have soiled themselves and will indicate it to you in some way (cognitive skill).

This is the most important pre-readiness skill. If they aren’t aware and indicate this to you in some way, then they aren't ready.

2. The child has physical control to hold the bladder or bowel movement for even a few seconds to run to the potty (physical skill).

This might be hard to determine and sometimes the only way to know is by trial and error. If they don't quite make it the first few times you try, that's okay. It doesn't mean they aren't necessarily ready—it just means they need more practice holding for a few seconds when they feel the urge.

3. They already have a strong association between pee and poop and the potty (cognition).

The child needs to know that poop and pee go in the potty. They need to have physically laid eyes on the duty and others performing the duty. You need to be sure they have made a strong association between the two concepts.

Top 7 helpful methods

Modeling the desired outcome

Children learn best through modeling. They need to physically watch an adult or sibling frequent the bathroom and perform the deed (preferably the same sex if possible, but not a requirement). I hope you fellow mothers can laugh about this clearly NOT being a challenging goal. (I haven't taken a pee alone since 1999.)

Naked time

You know all those parenting books that claim they can help your child learn to use the potty in three days? Most of them recommend naked time for three consecutive days. Is it messy? Heck yes, it is. Will you likely be cleaning up poop from some unknown oddly shaped surface in the near future? Probably. Will it teach your child what is happening down there when they are pooping and peeing? Yes, it certainly will!

The feeling of peeing in a diaper is totally different than peeing in the bare. I highly recommend lots of naked time for toddlers on the verge of potty training. Either stay home for a full three days of nakedness (preferably in your backyard) or just take their pants off every opportunity you get for a few weeks.

When they pee or poop, make sure not to say any alarming or scary sounds or they will feel ashamed to perform in front of you. Even if they pee on your favorite chair, try to force a smile and say, "Yay! you made pee pee! Next time lets put it in the potty."

Helping flush

What mother out there hasn't realized how much your child loves to flush the toilet? What if you let them flush all thee pee and poop their little hearts desired? That way they can visually see the desired outcome multiple times a day. Repetition is always key with learning new skills.


While I don't think reading books alone could ever potty train your child, I do think there are a lot of really good potty books on the market that discuss the topic, like Princess Potty, Potty Superhero: Get Ready for Big Boy Pants and Oops I Wet My Pants.

Labeling and verbalizing

When your child makes a number two in their diaper, tell them what they did! Think of how many times you are reinforcing the concept for them if you say, "You pooped!" every time you change a number two. Once they understand what you're saying, they will start saying it themselves, which is the most important pre-readiness skill.

Buy the right equipment

Most toddlers obviously cannot reach the ground with their feet. Since our feet give us our base of support and sense of stability, they completely lack both things when seated on a regular toilet. Actually, they are basically holding on for dear life. In order for the muscles down there to relax, they need to feel stable and comfortable. Some great toileting tools are the Potty Step Stool and Potty Seat Cover.

Set a potty routine

I don't recommend being rigid about a potty schedule—your child needs to eventually be the one who feels the urge and responds appropriately. But I do think a few regular intervals during the day are helpful for training their bodies. Set these semi-routines at times that make sense like right when they wake up from a nap and after they finish lunch.

Okay mamas and papas, get yourself ready for a full few years of talking about poop and pee. Also, be ready to sprint as fast as humanly possible when your kiddo starts doing the pee-pee dance. Don't forget to be patient with those little babes!

Originally posted on Helping Hands Occupational Therapy.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

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