How to Potty Train a Girl: A Short Guide

How to Potty Train a Girl: A Short Guide

In the blink of an eye, your daughter will go from a baby to a toddler, and with toddlerhood comes potty training. Although hard to imagine at times, there will come a day when you no longer have to change dirty diaper after dirty diaper.

Good things take time and so does potty training your little girl, but with enough patience and motivation, your little angel will be using the potty in no time. Once she masters the skill, she’ll be rewarded with a newfound sense of accomplishment, and maybe a few little gifts along the way, too!

What is Potty Training?

There are many milestones in a child’s life, and one of them is learning to use the potty. Potty training is the term used to describe your toddler’s ability to identify when she needs to go to the bathroom, choosing to use the potty instead of soiling her garments.

A potty is a portable and child-friendly toilet designed to teach your little one to use a full-sized toilet. However, before your little girl can use the big-kid toilet, she needs to master the potty. Getting on the potty train isn’t always easy, which is why it’s important to ensure that your daughter is ready to be potty trained before taking the plunge.

How Early Can You Start Potty Training a Girl?

There isn’t a magical age when it comes to potty training your little girl. You can choose when to start, but in the end, she’ll be the one who decides to get on the potty train program. This can happen as early as 18 months or as late as 4 years old. While most girls begin showing signs of potty training readiness anywhere between 18-24 months, this all depends on whether or not they can express their needs and wants at the time.

It’s important to remember that over-pressuring your child to use the potty can, as a consequence, lengthen their potty training process. So be patient and remember, good things come to those who wait! You’ll be happy to know that it’s generally faster and easier to potty train a girl than it is a boy. This is because girls tend to mature a little faster than boys do, allowing them to stay focused and determined for longer bouts of time.

Signs Your Toddler Is Ready To Take On the Potty

Pay close attention to the signs that your little girl is ready. Once a child can accomplish most of the tasks below, she’s ready to potty train.

  • She can walk and run without falling over.
  • She can maintain the same position for more than a few minutes.
  • She knows how to pull her pants up and down.
  • She’s asking you about the toilet and wants to watch you use it.
  • She wants to be a big kid and yearns for more independence.
  • She likes completing small tasks and is cooperative.
  • She isn’t going through diapers as quickly as she used to.
  • Her bowel movements are on a consistent schedule.
  • She tells you when she’s filling up her diaper.
  • Dirty diapers make her irritable.

How Long Does It Take to Potty Train a Girl?

It can take some time before your little girl feels comfortable using the potty on her own. Toddlers who begin their potty training journey before the age of 2 tend to master daytime continence before the age of 3. However, the average girl can master the potty in just 3 months.

Learning to control her bladder and bowel movements can take a little longer though, but can usually be achieved (although it’s usually not perfect) before your girl’s 4th birthday. When potty training your child, it’s best not to have a concrete timeline in mind, as every child is different and learns at their own pace.

There’s a big difference between learning to use the potty and mastering it. You can teach your kid to use the potty in as little as 3 days to a week. During this earliest phase, it’s best to limit outside activities, as she will need to be in close range of her potty should nature call. For this reason, many parents choose to potty train their child over a long weekend or while on vacation, as this allows them to be by their side the entire time.

Once she knows how to use the potty, she’ll grow more and more comfortable with it every single day. Accidents can continue to happen for months or even years. However, they should grow few and far between as time passes.

How to Get Your Daughter Ready for the Potty

Start by getting your child excited and enthused about potty training. The more cooperative and motivated your girl is about becoming a big girl, the easier it will be to learn

Give the Potty a Good Reputation

Begin talking about potty training and how cool it is once you start noticing that your daughter will soon be ready to use the potty. Tell her that soon she will be a big kid and that she will learn to use the potty just like you did when you were her age. Use positive language when talking about potty training. This way, she’ll start looking forward to it!

Get the Entire Family Involved

You won’t always be home to help your daughter use the potty, so talk to your family members and babysitters to let them know what’s going on. Ask them to talk to your daughter about potty training and to always use positive language while discussing it. This is especially important if your daughter has an older sibling, as she will look up to them more often than not.

Bring Her to the Bathroom With You

Your daughter has probably been watching you use the toilet for quite some time now. But once she becomes curious, ask her if she wants to watch you use the toilet and walk her through all the steps. At this point, you’re not trying to make her use the potty herself, you’re just showing her what she will one day accomplish.

Read Potty Training Books

There are tons of amazing potty training books that you can read to your daughter throughout the day or before bedtime. Our personal favorites for little girls are “A Potty for Me” by Karen Katz and “Diapers Are Not Forever” by Elizabeth Verdick.

Watch Potty-Friendly TV Shows

Just like books, TV shows (you can find our favorite potty-training friendly episodes here) are a fantastic way to show your toddler that using the potty is a normal and cool thing to do. However, be sure to watch these programs before showing them to your daughter, as some of their teachings or methods may conflict with your own.

Let Her Select Her Potty

Potties are usually decorated with Disney Princesses, cartoon characters, or other fun designs — which may add to your little girl’s excitement. However, before purchasing the potty, be sure to have your daughter sit down in it for a few minutes to ensure that she is comfortable.

Let Her Select Her Underwear

Let your daughter choose her own underwear to get her excited to ditch the diapers. Selecting pairs that have fun cartoons and Disney characters on them can make her want to start potty training as soon as possible.

Make a Potty Training Chart

Let your toddler know that her potty training days are fast approaching by taking the time to make a potty training chart with her. Typically, parents choose to create a one-month chart as this is more than enough time to get your toddler used to the potty. Add a sticker to her chart every time she successfully uses the potty, letting her know that by the end of the month, she’ll be rewarded for her hard work. The reward you choose is ultimately up to you, but anything from a tasty treat to a fun outing can be appropriate.
plush cow toy learning to use the potty

How to Potty Train a Girl

Once you have talked to your daughter about potty training and what to expect, you can kick things up a notch by getting her excited to be a big girl who uses the toilet. It’s important not to push your toddler but rather let her come to her own decision. If she thinks potty training is cool, she’ll come around in no time.

  1. Set aside some time for potty training: Once your daughter has been vocal about wanting to use the potty, set aside some time for potty training.
  2. Let those around you in on your plan: Once you know your start date, talk to your friends, family members, babysitters, and/or educators to let them know when your daughter is set to start potty training.
  3. Get her used to sitting on the potty: Before you begin potty training, get your little one used to her potty. You can let her sit on it with her clothes on or off, but let her know that she needs to pull her pants and underwear down before using it.
  4. Teach her how to wipe: Take the time to teach your toddler how to wipe before they use the potty for the first time. You can even use a baby wipe and a teddy bear to demonstrate the process. When teaching a little girl to use the potty, it’s important to let her know that she needs to wipe from front to back to prevent infection. On average, children need help wiping themselves until they are about 6 years old, but children will vary.
  5. Teach her the importance of always washing her hands: Start with the small stuff before taking on the potty — like washing your hands. Let your toddler know that she needs to wash her hands every time she uses the potty.
  6. Let her roam free: Now that your little one knows the basics, she can finally start potty training. On her first day, let her roam the house without any pants or underwear on. Give her plenty of liquids and let her know that the potty is nearby if she needs to pee or poop. Watch her closely and notice when she starts showing signs of needing to relieve herself — like jumping around or doing a little dance.
  7. Bring on the underwear: Accidents are bound to happen and that’s perfectly okay. Once your little one has successfully identified her need to use the potty, allow her to start wearing underwear. Should she pee or poop by accident, be sure to be as kind as possible and let her know that it’s not a big deal. It can be very hard for toddlers to let go of their diapers and acting disappointed or angry can make it even harder for them to use the potty.
  8. Be patient and celebrate the small stuff: When your daughter manages to use the potty without wetting her underwear, be sure to let her know that she did an amazing job. Put a star on her chart and celebrate — no matter how small the victory.
  9. Dress her in loose-fitting bottoms: When she is comfortable removing her underwear and using the potty, allow her to wear loose-fitting bottoms around the house. This will make removing her bottoms an easy thing to do. Stay away from bottoms with zippers and buttons until she can remove them herself in a timely fashion.
  10. Talk to her about nighttime potty training: Once your daughter is using the potty like a total pro, let her know that she can start wearing underwear to bed whenever she is ready. Check her diapers in the morning or after naptime to see if they are dry. This will be a telltale sign that she is ready to go to sleep without wearing a diaper. This can take roughly 6 months to accomplish.
  11. Limit her beverages before bedtime: To boost her chances of not wetting the bed, limit her beverages before bedtime, and ensure that she uses the bathroom at least once before going to bed yourself.
  12.  Say goodbye to diapers: Nighttime accidents are common amongst young children which is why it’s beneficial to invest in an absorbent mattress cover. If she continues to wet the bed for more than a few nights in a row, get her back on diapers and let her know that you’ll try again very soon. Once she manages to stay dry for more than three nights in a row, you can finally move on from diapers.

The Difference Between Potty Training Boys and Girls

While potty training is about 99 percent the same between boys and girls, some girls exhibit some slightly different characteristics that typically make potty training easier for them than for boys.

  • Girls are quicker to learn. For whatever reason (with a lot of skills in early infancy) girls are a bit quicker at picking skills up. If you’re potty training a girl, you’ve probably got it easier than the parents of a boy of the same age. By 30 months, about 30% of girls are fully dry at night, compared with only 20% of boys.
  • Girls and boys learn differently. Girls are more likely to want to potty train for social reasons, boys are more likely to respond to rewards.
  • Boys have to learn two different ways to go, complicating the process. Girls just need to identify when they feel the need to go, and from there they can just sit down.

Why Did My Daughter Stop Using Her Potty?

Some children master potty training like it’s no big deal while others struggle to get it right. Your daughter may be using the toilet one day and wetting herself the next — but that’s totally normal. It can be frustrating to wean your little one off diapers just to have to put her back on a few weeks later. But be patient because there are many reasons why your toddler may be regressing.

The most common causes of potty training regression are lack of readiness, stress, and fatigue. Your child must be vocal about wanting to embark on the potty training process instead of being forced into it, as this may cause them a lot of stress and anxiety. Regression can also occur if a parent puts too much pressure on their toddler or reacts angrily when an accident occurs.

How to Handle Potty Training Regression

Regression is easiest to tackle when it’s not stressful for your child, so stay calm and positive throughout the whole process.

  • Be sensitive: No one is more frustrated than your toddler when it comes to potty training setbacks. Be supportive and sensitive when addressing the issue, letting her know that what’s happening is normal and even expected.
  • Talk to her: Your little one may be regressing due to a buildup of negative emotions. Talk to her to find out if she is feeling stressed or more tired than usual. Something may be upsetting her.
  • Continue praising her: Never stop praising your little one for a job well done. This will make her more motivated to use the toilet.
  • Get back on track: If your daughter continues to have issues holding in her urine or bowel movements, go back to using her potty training chart. It can take a few tries to get it right — so don’t lose hope and get back on track!

If your little one continues to have problems with bladder or bowel retention, despite having once perfected her potty training, schedule a check-up with your pediatrician to ensure that the culprit isn’t an underlying medical condition.
little girl washing her hands

Final Words

Your little angel will feel like the big kid she’s always wanted to be once she masters using the toilet. After talking and walking, learning to use the potty is one of the biggest milestones in a toddler’s life — so don’t forget to celebrate!

Saying goodbye to the dreaded diaper is something parents look forward to. But don’t forget to take things slow so your little one doesn’t get overwhelmed. We wish you the best of luck potty training your little girl!