The Art of Potty Training – A Variation of the 3-Day Method

When my daughter was still a baby I began hearing a lot about the 3-Day Method of potty training. If you search 3-Day Potty Training Method you quickly become inundated with information. As I began sifting through all of the information and talking with friends, I realized there were several different variations of this method. So I began by reading and piecing together what I felt would work for us.

I am NOT a potty training expert. Nor am I here to tell you my way is the right and the only way. I simply want to share my experience.

Helpful Resources:

3-Day Method Links:


“Oh Crap! Potty Training” (A MUST READ!) It’s not necessarily a 3-Day Method, but it is extremely helpful. This is the ONLY book I read that covers every aspect of potty training. It answered questions I couldn’t find anywhere else. Here are some quick tidbits, but you really should read the book cover to cover!

  • Best time to potty train – between 20-30 months (My daughter was 28 months)
  • Potty training is still possible after 3 years of age
  • There is a whole chapter dedicated to pooping (She pooped on day 2 and 4 – from there we were good to go)
  • Chapter on potty training myths
  • Step by step process of how to ditch the diapers and how to handle EVERY roadblock imaginable
  • Daycare and Special Circumstances (I skipped these chapters, as they didn’t apply to us)
  • Potty Training while still in a crib is possible (I couldn’t find the answer to this anywhere else)
  • Swimming Lesson and Swim diapers (I couldn’t find the answer to this anywhere else)
  • Chapter on nighttime training (We suspended fluids 2 hours before bed (as recommended) right from the start, but have not officially began night training. She does wake up with a dry diaper, so we may try ditching the diapers soon)
Must Haves:
  • Juice – Capri Sun worked for our daughter, as she never has them otherwise.
  • Simple Potty Chair – I purchased a basic Fisher Price potty seat from Wal-Mart for $12.

    Portable seat, travel bag, and flushable wet wipes
  • Underwear – If you have a petite child I recommend the 10 pack of Garanimals from Wal-Mart for $8. Most everything I read suggested character underwear. First, our daughter was gifted a pack of Minnie Mouse from Wal-Mart and there is a big size difference. The Minnie’s were wider and longer than the Garanimals even though they were the same size. Second, we are on a budget and there are a lot of accidents in the beginning – so $5 for 3 pairs is unrealistic.
    Legs folded out to fit over a regular toilet

    In addition, the 10 pack had a variety of colors including a few with hearts and butterflies.

  • OXO Tot – 2 in 1 Go Potty – This potty seat is a MUST have for travel. My daughter is not a fan of sitting on a regular toilet when we are out, even if her seat is on top. Which makes this seat perfect because it can be its own potty chair! Just attach a plastic bag to it and you are good to go! She has used it in parks, parking lots, and public restrooms. It comes
    Use a plastic bag for easy clean up!

    in its own travel bag, so I just toss it in the stroller and off we go!

  • For Parents Only: TWO bottles of your favorite wine. We only had one, so trust me when I say you need at least TWO. If you don’t drink alcohol, I recommend a gallon of your favorite ice cream or another tasty treat! You will NEED it!


Our Variation of the 3-Day Method – What Worked and What Didn’t

Set the stage:

  • 3-5 months before potty training I began checking out potty books from the children’s section and reading them to her daily. In addition, I purchased the Potty Time DVD and played it often. Here is why I love this DVD:
  1. It teaches the ASL sign for potty, which is great if your child isn’t verbal yet. My daughter started pointing to the toilet and signing potty almost immediately after watching this DVD. By the time we began training she could say the word “potty.”
  1. The DVD goes through all the steps of using the potty including wearing underwear and washing your hands.
Potty Time DVD
Potty Time DVD


  • The night before the big day I simply said, “Starting tomorrow you will only wear diapers at nighttime because you’re a big girl now.”
  • The next morning I sat the potty in the living room. She saw it as a toy, so I moved it to the bathroom. (The book says to not discuss potty training or have the chair out before the big day.)

Day 1-2–Naked:

  1. Be patient, the first day is full of accidents! Stay in a part of the house that you won’t mind cleaning them up.
  2. Give your child extra fluids so they need to use the potty and watch them closely.
  3. If she began going potty I would say, “Oo, oo, hold it honey.” As I calmly picked her up and rushed to the potty.
  4. When she had accidents we would calmly say, “You peed on the floor. You need to pee in the potty.” Then I would have her help me clean up the accidents.
  1. Rewards -during the times she successfully went in the potty without going on the floor I would let her dump the waste into the “big potty” and flush the toilet. Then I sang the “potty song.”
  2. Suspend fluids an hour prior to naptime and lay waterproof sheets on top of mattress. Our daughter has remained dry since day 1.
  3. By the end of day 1 she was going to the potty all by herself.

Potty Song:

(To the tune of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow)DSC_0782

“________ pees and poops in the potty,

She pees and poops in the potty,

She pees and poops in the potty

Because she’s a big girl!”

(For another potty song alternative, and more potty-training tips and strategies, check out Lianna’s post from the archives!)

Day 3–Start underwear:

  1. This was like day 1 – full of accidents.
  2. I searched the internet after a very exhausting first day in underwear. Other parents had a similar hiccup and after talking with a friend I had two options: Go back to being naked or forge ahead with underwear. We chose underwear.
  3. Change: Next time I will have the child pull their pants up and down for each diaper change a month before potty training begins. I am also considering beginning with underwear, as Laura talks about in her post.
  4. Day 5 was a complete success!

Day 6-10 – Regression:

  1. She played a rousing game of how long can I hold it. I tried taking toys away, but this method did not work with our strong willed daughter.
  2. Thinking outside the box – I was able to get her to go potty by promising she could watch certain music videos on my phone. After 4 days the regression was over.

Several things I read recommended allowing her to pick out her underwear every morning. My daughter is NOT a morning person, so the transition from diaper to underwear was challenging. I finally quit trying to let her pick out underwear. I just focused on getting her up in a good mood. Then I would grab a pair of underwear, take her to the potty and talk about anything other than the potty. I showed her music videos on my phone when she initially sat down. Now she rarely asks to watch anything – she does her business and puts her underwear on. Parent WIN!

This is NOT a sponsored post; this is simply what worked for me. Good luck on your potty training endeavors!



Nikki Wildemuth
Nikki is new to the area. She graduated from the Western Illinois University-Quad Cities Campus in 2009 with a Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education. She married her husband the same year. Nikki loved the creativity of teaching and continues to bring that same creativity as a stay at home mom. During the day you can find her chasing after her precocious toddler. By night she is a Pinterest junkie! She enjoys getting out and spending time with her family!


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