How to Potty Train a Girl

By Kathryn Walsh
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You can lead a girl to a potty, but you can't make her go -- not until she's ready. Your daughter has to be the one to set the toilet-training timetable, frustrating though that may be. Wait until she expresses some interest in potty training before beginning. She might ask to use the toilet, beg to wear big-kid underwear or mimic using the potty like big kids do. Once she shows these signs, and has the physical strength to sit and stand from a small potty, you're ready to begin the journey to freedom from diapers.

Step 1

Stock your bathroom with everything your potty-training girl will need. Buy a small training toilet and a potty seat to place on your toilet when she's ready to transition to it. (You won't need the latter immediately, but seeing it in the bathroom might motivate her.) Buy or borrow board books about potty training. Hang a sheet of paper near the toilet to be used as her potty chart and place a sheet of stickers out of her reach. You may also buy a few small toys that stay in the bathroom, only to be used when she sits on the potty. Switch out her diapers for pull-ups, if you haven't already.

Step 2

Show the small potty to your child, demonstrating your excitement by saying things like, "This is all for you! It will be ready for you when you want to go potty!" Leave the training toilet in the bathroom for a few days without asking your child to use it. Let her sit on it in her diaper, suggests the University of Michigan Health System, as she gets used to having it.

Step 3

Schedule potty trips every few hours, preferably 10 minutes or so after she eats or drinks. Say "In 2 minutes, let's go try out your new potty!" Lead her to the bathroom, help her pull down her pants and diaper, and stay with her while she sits on her training potty. Encourage her to push out any pee or poop she feels in her body. Let her get up whenever she's ready. Praise her for trying.

Step 4

Establish a reward system, if you wish. Draw a grid on the sheet hanging in the bathroom. Put a sticker in each box for every time she sits on the potty, or for every time she actually "goes." Explain that once she fills a line on the sheet, or the entire sheet, she'll get some reward like a sweet treat or a small toy.

Step 5

Remind her to visit the bathroom when her body feels it needs to pee or poop. When she's distracted by play, interrupt to ask whether she needs to use the toilet. Offer potty reminders every hour. Expect that she'll still be going in her diaper much of the time. It may take weeks or months before she's able to primarily use her potty; according to KidsHealth, potty training often takes between 3 and 6 months to complete.

Step 6

Give her some diaper-free time once she is able to pee or poop in the potty at least half of the time. Put her in underwear, or let her walk around the house naked. Continue reminding her hourly to consider the bathroom. Being without her diaper should make her more aware of when she relieves herself. Continue giving her diaperless time for a week or more, until accidents are few and far between.

Step 7

Dress your daughter in underwear during the day. She may still have occasional accidents; if she has accidents every day, she needs more reminders to use the toilet, or she might need more time in her pull-ups before she's ready to be free of diapers.

About the Author

Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.