Does Toilet Training in 3-days Really Work?

  • Toddlers
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By: Zoe Crane, ellaslist

If you’re considering starting toilet training you’ve probably heard about a number of programs that promise to achieve your goals in just a few days. But is it really possible?

What is accelerated toilet training?

The idea of accelerated toilet training dates back to 1974 when two psychologists, Foxx and Azrin published a book called Toilet Training in Less than a Day. Since then, a number of methods for fast-track training have sprung up, with most methods these days advocating a three-day training period.

Say Goodbye to Nappies

While each has variations, the general principle seems to be the same. First you let your child know that there will be no more nappies, and from then on your child is naked from the waist down whilst at home. Here’s the kicker, you have to stay home with your child for three days, getting them to sit on the potty often, preferably before accidents happen.

Potty Song and Dance

All methods note that accidents will happen, and not to get upset or angry about them, and all methods use positive reinforcement when your child does use the potty. They also come with various levels of ridiculous, with one recommending taking your child AND your partner with you when you go to the toilet, and having your partner do the potty song and dance for you when you’re done. Thankfully, this is not an essential step in the program.

But…Does it work?

One of the only randomised studies that compared different toilet training methods found the fast-track method “significantly more effective” with kids having fewer accidents and parents finding it more helpful. These methods are also known for quicker results and success at an earlier age. I was initially very cynical about achieving results in three days but was shocked by how well it worked for us.

What’s the catch?

You need to spend three whole days at home with your child, watching them constantly to see if they need to go to the toilet. During those three days, there will be numerous accidents to clean up. Every child is unique and telling parents they “should” be trained in three days can add undue pressure and stress if it takes longer. Also, it won’t work at all if your child is not physically and emotionally ready.

When should you start?

Different experts recommend different ages, although the accelerated method is effective at an earlier age than other methods. Azrin and Foxx say that children must be at least 20 months old while Julie Fellom who runs the diaper-free toddlers program says it can work with kids as young as 15 months and works best with children that are under 28 months.

What are the Signs?

Every child is different and no program will work before your child is ready. Some signs to look for include being able to follow simple instructions, not wetting a nappy for at least two hours at a time, resisting putting a nappy on and being aware of when they are about to wee or poo.

I first tried when my daughter was 22 months, but she was afraid of the potty. She just wasn’t ready. Just a few months later it worked like a dream. With toilet training, everyone will tell you, timing is everything.

Does it really only take three days?

Yes, and no. It works best if you spend the weeks, and maybe months, beforehand preparing. This includes talking to your child about going to the potty, reading books about it, and role-playing with toys. A doll that wets is a good prop to have. Also, the work isn’t all done at the end of three days. While studies have shown that children that use this method have an average of “less than one accident per day” accidents still happen, and as with everything in this game, the work goes on.

Probably the best bit

One of the best features of the accelerated method is that you train for day and night at the same time. Some methods insist on no nappies day or night while others allow nappies for naps and overnight, but even then you might find you don’t need them. I put my daughter in nappies overnight for weeks afterwards but they were always dry in the morning, so I stopped. Once again, every child is different.

Our conclusion

Both research and anecdotal evidence have shown this is an effective method for toilet training your child, but it doesn’t always work for everyone. Unfortunately, we’ve found in parenting, nothing is guaranteed!

ellaslist wants to hear from you, what worked for you when you were toilet training your child?