If you’re getting ready to start on the journey of potty training your little boy, congrats – this is a big deal! Potty training is a monumental occasion for you and your little one and also a major step in your child’s development.
Both experts and parents themselves tend to agree that toddlers boys are somewhat more difficult to potty train than girls. After all, they can’t just sit and do the whole job. There’s much more to going “number one” than just standing, as your bathroom floor will soon find out!
Every toddler will have a unique way of learning to use the toilet, including differences in potty training boys vs girls. If you’re attempting to potty train a boy specifically, there are certain things that you need to be aware of.
How Do I Know if My Son is Ready to Be Potty Trained?
Trying to potty train before your child is ready is one of the most common potty training mistakes parents often make. However, it is one that is easily avoided.
The key to potty training is waiting for your son to be willing and able to perform the steps necessary to use the potty. In fact, waiting for them to be ready will save you both a lot of headaches and accidents! Once they’re ready, the process will go so much faster and you’ll be happy that you waited.
Before you begin on the journey of potty training, ask yourself a few questions. Can your son:
- Let you know that he has to go potty? Either verbally or nonverbally.
- Does he point or tell you that he either has to go or has already gone in his diaper?
- Pull (or at least attempt to pull) pants up and down?
- Climb onto the potty or able to sit on his own potty?
- Show discomfort when his diaper is wet/ soiled?
- Stay dry for a long period of time, ie. through naps, or several hours throughout the day?
If your son is showing one or more of these signs of readiness, he may be ready to begin potty training!
What is the best age to start potty training boys?
Although some children may be ready as early as 18 months or sooner, other children may not start showing signs until age three!
The median age to potty train a boy is about 2.5 – 3 years old, however it is important to realize that all children are different and develop at different stages.
Since the process is tricky in itself, parents don’t need to make it even more difficult. No matter what estimations say, we should always listen to our little boys’ inner rhythm.
“Once they are ready, training will take less time, minimizing or downright eliminating the risk of failure.” states Stephanie Thompson from Pregnancy Loop.
When is the Best Time to Start Potty Training a Boy?
Potty training your son takes some motivation and cooperation from him, so the most important of the potty training tips to remember is to start when they’re ready.
Some boys are ready early, as I mentioned around 18 months, but others won’t show interest until past their third birthday.
Many experts believe that boys, on average, stay in diapers longer than girls because they’re more active and are less likely to stop to use the potty.
While getting a head start sounds like a good idea – buying fewer diapers rocks – the process will take a lot longer if you don’t wait until they’re ready to begin.
Potty Training Tips for Boys
The most painless way to potty train your boy is to go gradually. Make sure they have an understanding of what is involved in potty training, including what the toilet is, what happens there, what comes out of their body, what ends up in their diaper, and how it feels when it comes out.
Once you have determined that your son is actually ready to begin, it’s time to focus on strategy. Here are a few tips and tricks for potty training boys that ACTUALLY work.
1. Start Gradually and Make it Part of the Daily Routine
When you’re ready to potty train your boy, talk about the potty ALL THE TIME. During diaper changes, meal times, play times, in the car, and while you’re in the bathroom.
The more they hear about it, the more they will understand what will be happening and what’s expected of them. Getting them slowly acclimated to the process helps a lot when first starting out.
We tried to spring potty training on my son at 26 months and he wanted no part of it. We attempted to put him on the potty every 30 minutes, but he just whined and wouldn’t make.
I decided that I didn’t want to force it and make him resent the process, so I let it be. However, I continued to ask him if he wanted to go on the potty every day before bath time or after dinner.
One day it just must have clicked and he said “Yes” and was so excited to start using the potty. He peed on it and hasn’t stopped since! I’m so glad that I didn’t force it from the beginning and perhaps make him scared of the potty.
2. Start when you can devote a large chunk of time
Don’t start full blown potty training on a random Wednesday after work when they’re going to be in daycare for the next few days.
The ideal time to start is at the beginning of a long weekend or the longest period of time that you will be staying at home.
Potty training takes a lot of time and dedication from YOU as the parent. It’s not all on your child.
Most people say your child can learn to potty train within 3 days, but that may be for children who are a little bit older. For younger ones, I would make sure you have at least a good 5 day stretch where you are home and committed to training.
However, many experts say that toilet training isn’t fast, and for some kids it takes up to a whole year before they fully grasp the entire process.
Lots of grace is needed for everyone!
3. Let Them Be Naked
Nothing quite gets your toddler ready for going potty than spending time naked! This way, they will feel and see when they are wet or have an accident and be more aware of that sensation.
When they are wearing pull-ups or underpants at the very beginning of potty training, they may feel too comfortable (like it’s a diaper.
You’ll want to stay close by and watch for signs that your little one needs to go, like holding himself, crossing his legs, bouncing up and down, or whining. The more time that your little one spends outside of his diaper – the faster he will potty train!
However, be prepared for accidents and definitely try to keep them in an area that is protected or can be easily cleaned (ie. tile floors).
4. To Sit or To Stand?
That’s always the question when potty training boys! From personal experience, I always recommend to start potty training sitting down, and this is one of my favorite potty training tips for boys.
This will be much more comfortable for him, and as the child is likely to have a bowel movement at the same time, it is far more practical. You can also teach him how to make pee and poop at the same time instead of teaching him peeing standing up and pooping sitting down.
If you start on a little/mini potty help them aim downward so you don’t get a spray all over the bathroom floor. If you start them on a regular-sized toilet, have them face the tank and you’re MUCH more likely to keep your floors clean!
Once they master sitting down, then they can be taught to stand using a small urinal or on a stool next to the toilet. Try to make the transition as easy as possible for them by providing the right equipment when you first teach them, as well.
5. Use the Right Tools
Using the right tools can not only make potty training easier for your child, but simpler for you, as well. Don’t discount these potty training tips – they really work.
From toilet seats, to car seat liners, and lots in between, here are the products that can help make the process of potty training boys a bit easier:
This Spuddies Potty Seat with a Ladder is fantastic for giving your toddler the independence they need to get themself on and off the potty. It’s so much easier to start using the regular potty from day 1 so that you don’t have to transition them from a small portable potty chair to the regular-sized one.
This potty seat makes it easy to climb up and sit right down on their own. The handles and step also help when he is pushing to get their poop out.
What makes this seat great for boys especially is that there is a little notch on the front that will guard their pee from spraying on the floor before they learn how to aim it downward.
This Portable Potty by Poppy Potty has been a lifesaver when we leave the house or even go outside in the backyard. It conveniently folds right up making it so simple to carry and my favorite feature: disposable liners!
You’re able to store the liners with the potty and pull them out as needed. They make for super simple clean-up when you’re out because you’re not always close to a sink or toilet to dump out and clean a potty out.
We bring this potty everywhere with us and it fits so nicely under my stroller or even in the diaper bag as it conveniently folds up. This way I’m always prepared for when my son says she has to go and I don’t have to take him in a public bathroom!.
Read more about the Poppy Potty and Tips for Potty Training On-The-Go here.
This urinal will allow your child to learn how to stand up while they pee. This is better to be used after they have gotten used to urinating on a regular toilet sitting backwards.
You can suction this right to your bathroom wall at the perfect level for your toddler boy.
Potty Training Underwear or Pajamas
Although I don’t recommend using underwear while you’re potty training (because they should be bottomless at home at all times), you’ll need to put bottoms on them when you’re out.
These potty training underwear have an extra thick layer of fabric that really help absorb accidents. They don’t act like pull ups to keep all the pee in, but really just help stop a “down the leg flood.” I found these really useful in saving a few outfits when the inevitable accident happens.
If they do have an accident, you just have to replace the underwear and not the pants too, making you go through a lot less clothing.
You may also want to try Potty Training Pajamas- or Peejamas! Peejamas are an environmentally friendlier, more affordable, and more stylish alternative to disposable daytime and nighttime diapers or trainers.
They simply have an absorbent layer built right into the pants so if your little boy has an accident, you don’t have to worry about it making a mess in the bed. Peejamas are created from safe fabrics and provide maximum absorbency of urine.
6. Try Some Fun Gear Too
Toddlers need to be entertained and thrive on stimulation. If you’re potty training your boy, make it fun by singing songs, playing games, and even acting silly. You can read books, play videos or even just talk about some of their favorite topics.
Also, try some fun new gadgets like a Potty Watch! Little boys are BUSY and this can sometimes make potty training a bit more difficult. Between playing, naptime, eating, and more playing, they may grow uninterested in anything that interrupts their typical day.
Buying a potty watch can avoid this dilemma. Potty watches will play fun songs and flash lights when it’s time to go potty. This will make it seem all the more fun for your little one!
As an added bonus, they are not associating YOU with nagging to go potty, but instead listening to their “watch”.
7. Make It A Game
Tapping into his love for games and competitive spirit may be just the trick you need to make potty training successful for your little one.
Make going to the bathroom a fun game that your little boy can win! Consider placing cheerios in the toilet that he can aim at with a prize at the end for “hitting the target”.
My son absolutely loved these Toilet Targets (above) as a fun way to incentivize potty training for boys. These targets are made up of biodegradable paper that you slip into the toilet bowl.
They can then aim to pee on the toilet target while in the bowl as a little game. They also have fun pictures that you can choose based on your child’s interests (ie. transportation, animals, etc)
PeeBall (it’s like Skiball) is a fun game that your little one can ‘play’ while trying to aim into the potty.
8. Don’t use Pull-ups During the Day
A pull-up is not a necessary transition between diapers and underpants which many people think. Unless you feel it is necessary when you leave the house, you don’t need to put a pull-up on your child.
They are essentially the same as a diaper so they won’t feel the sensation of being wet!
Pull-ups just make it easy to pull on and off when you do take your child to the potty, but I don’t recommend them unless you’re worried about accidents when you’re out or during bedtime.
If you’re worried about ruining underwear or cleaning up the mess of accidents, Potty Training Underwear shown above instead.
9. Capitalize on Rewards
Find whatever it is that motivates your toddler and place heavy emphasis on the fact that they will receive it if they make on the potty. Some kids will respond well to pretzels, goldfish, m&ms, stickers, or even just singing a song.
If your child has a really tough time even getting on the potty, you may want to reward him for merely sitting on it. If they don’t have a problem sitting on it, but making on it is the hard part, only reward when they make.
Once they are making often, or when you tell them it’s time to go, only give them the reward when they ask to go potty. Gradually fade out the reward to where they don’t need it anymore.
You want to start with the least restricted reward system. If your child has no problem getting on the potty, don’t give a reward everytime he sits on the potty. The reward should only be for something that they haven’t completely mastered yet.
My son absolutely loved the Potty Time Adventures reward system. Similar to an advent calendar, they get a sticker or a prize every time they make on the potty. It’s a bit better than just a sticker chart because they actually get a reward every time.
If your little boy loves cars and trucks, he will LOVE this Potty Advent calendar.
If you’d like something simple, you can use a sticker chart reward system like this one to encourage using the potty.
Some children may get super excited by stickers and filling up the lines when they did a good job. Once they filled a row with stickers, they get a prize of their choice.
Download this FREE printable potty training chart here.
10. Bring a Travel Potty EVERYWHERE With You
It’s essential to have one of these portable potty seats with you at all times to prevent any accidents from happening, since it may take months to get them fully potty trained where they can hold their pee in public for awhile.
You’ll find yourselves running through shopping malls, busy restaurants, and stopping at gross gas stations the moment your child says “I have to pee.” So if you have your own personal potty seat, you won’t have to feel so skewed at at these places.
11. Fill Them Up
Make sure you’re offering them plenty of fluids throughout the day to ensure they have a lot of pees and poops. The more opportunities to go on the toilet, the better.
Even if they have more accidents because they are filled up, this gives you more opportunities to correct their actions. The more they drink, the more times they will go on the potty each day. So keep offering them water and let them walk around with their water cup so they drink as much as possible.
Related Post: How to Get Your Picky Eater to Try New Foods
12. Put Them on the Potty in Intervals
When a toddler starts potty training, they won’t know what the sensation of having to go feels like. Therefore, you can’t expect them to just tell you when they have to go. Setting a timer may help you to catch them having to pee before they have an accident.
You can try setting a timer for every 20-30 minutes to put them on the potty or getting used to their routine of when they typically go pee/poop throughout the day. If they always poop after lunch, make sure you put them on more frequently after lunch until they make on the toilet.
However, if it seems like you’re putting them on the potty too frequently, increase the time in between. Your child may get frustrated by being told to go on the potty so much when they don’t need to.
13. Stay Positive and Be Patient
Try to remain as positive as you can throughout the entire experience. It is easy to accidentally fall into a negative mindset after all the constant work and multiple accidents. However, remaining positive is important in setting your son up for success.
Avoid using harsh negative words during accidents or when they’re not communicating with you. Instead focus on positive reinforcement including encouraging words and praise for small accomplishments like holding their pee for 20 minutes, telling you that they have to go, or even just sitting still on the potty while they tried).
14. Let Him Watch and Learn
Whether it’s dad, grandpa, older siblings, cousin, uncle, or another trusted male figure in their life, toddlers learn best by imitating. They are more likely to do something if they see a trusted family member or friend do it first.
Moms are amazing and are often left in charge of the potty training, however, we simply cannot model peeing standing up! Letting a trusted male figure model this for your son can definitely help to speed up the process.
15. Teach Proper Hygiene at a Young Age
Teach them to wipe their penis before their buns. Boys are statistically less likely than girls to get UTI’s, but it still happens and is much more likely when wiping in the opposite order- Teach them to wash their hands, even after peeing. Just because they didn’t get pee on their hands doesn’t mean they didn’t just touch an area that could be spreading germs.-
16. Consistency Is Key
If you are not being consistent in your potty training, it isn’t going to work. If your child is attending daycare or spending time with anyone other than you, it is important that everyone use the same systems, rewards, and techniques.
The more consistent everyone can be, the faster your child will potty train.
Talk to your daycare provider to see what their schedule looks like.
Many daycares take their toddlers to the potty every 20 to 30 minutes without fail. If that’s the case, you should follow their same lead at home.
Consistency really is one of the best potty training tips to remember.
Night Potty Training Takes Longer
Once your child understands and grasps potty training during the day, it’s time to create a game plan for staying dry at night.
This will take time. You want your son to reliably use the potty throughout the daytime without accidents. Then, start checking his diapers in the morning and after naps to see if they’re dry.
Some boys stay dry after naps within six months of potty training, but nighttime training is a whole different beast.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics ,10% of 7-year-olds and 5% of 10-year-olds still wet the bed. Nighttime training is a lot harder, so give everyone – including yourself – a lot of grace in this area.
Why Does Nighttime Training Take So Long?
Most experts believe that nighttime potty training takes time because his body has to be ready to hold his urine for an extended time frame. Some kids sleep a solid 10 to 12 hours, and that’s a lot of urine for a small bladder.
It’s not unusual for boys to need months or years to mature enough to be consistently dry at night. No matter how many potty training tips you try, this is partly developmental.
However, you can help.
The biggest way to support your son is to limit how much he drinks after 5 PM and make sure you wake him up for a final bathroom trip when YOU go to bed.
In the end, try not to stress too much! Your child will not be heading off to college in diapers!
Potty training can be stressful enough for your little boy without adding your high expectations and strict timelines. Use this as an opportunity for growth and quality time. Have some patience, remain positive and consistent, and have fun!
Your little one will be using the big potty in no time at all! Do you have any other potty training tips for boys that worked well for your family? Let me know in the comment section! If you want more detailed tips on potty training your child around 2, check out my other post here.