Parent-Tested Tips on Potty Training a Girl Without the Stress

We've been there. If you're potty training a girl, here are some simple tips to help you before and during the process.

Published July 11, 2023
toddler girl on potty

If you're thinking of starting the potty training process with your daughter, you've probably found a long list of dos and don'ts already. With so much information surrounding how to potty train a girl, it can be a bit overwhelming.

But you're not alone - we've rounded up some of the most important details, plus real-life tips for transitioning your toddler girl out of diapers, to help you on the journey.

What to Know About Potty Training a Girl

Potty training comes with a lot of questions from new parents and approaching the goal with a girl might look quite different than doing so with a boy. If you've never potty trained a girl before - or, maybe it's been a while - these are some girl-specific potty training details to keep in mind.

mom and daughter
  • Your daughter may show signs of potty training readiness around 18-24 months, a bit earlier than most boys.

  • Though the common age for potty training a girl is the 24-month mark, your little one may not be ready until she is closer to three years old.

  • On average, girls may finish potty training two to three months sooner than boys, since they tend to pick it up just a bit faster. But she may take longer to potty train than a boy, too - averages are just that. Some girls may also take longer than boys, but be ready to start sooner.

  • Wiping front to back will be an important part of teaching your daughter how to use the potty, so keep that in mind in the early stages of training.

  • Though your daughter may pick up potty training quickly, it's important to be patient as she's learning. This is a whole new skill set she's developing and even the most advanced toddler can struggle with it at first.

  • Even though girls on average potty train faster than boys, you might find that nighttime and nap time training still takes a while to master, so don't be surprised if you need to use potty training diapers for a couple more years.

Need to Know

Remember, every girl is different and there's no right or wrong when it comes to when she's ready or how quickly she grasps potty training. Your daughter's personality will also play a large role in her readiness for potty training, as well as how well she develops the skill.

How to Know Your Daughter Is Ready for Potty Training

The most important step in potty training a toddler girl is knowing when she's actually ready to start the process. You'll want to make sure your daughter checks off most, if not all, of these potty training readiness signs.

little girl and potty
  • She can lift her own dress or lower her pants with little to no assistance.

  • She demonstrates the ability to follow basic instructions.

  • She's mastered walking.

  • She's able to sit still for at least 30 seconds - even if she needs something like a book to keep her attention.

  • She can tell when she needs to pee versus when she needs to poop.

  • You're changing fewer diapers throughout the day because she's staying dry longer.

  • She understands what the potty is and what it's used for, even if she only understands it in the context of older children or adults.

  • She has some sort of signal or verbal communication for when she's going potty or needs to go.

  • She's hiding when she's pooping or hates having a wet diaper and wants it changed immediately.

Easy & Effective Things to Do When Potty Training a Girl

After assessing your daughter's readiness and determining it's time to start potty training, you'll want to have a plan in place for how you want to proceed. Though there are a few potty training methods that work well for both boys and girls, these steps will set you up for success no matter the method you choose.

girl on potty next to stuffed bear on potty

Go Undie Shopping

There are few things as adorable as those first little undies you'll purchase for your little girl. Let her help you choose what they'll be. Look for colors she loves, prints she prefers, and characters she's obsessed with to encourage her to want to keep her underwear as clean and dry as possible.

During your shopping be sure to explain exactly what this new wardrobe element is for. Let her know that big girls wear these sorts of underwear instead of diapers. When you start each new day of potty training - or when you need to change her into a clean set - let your daughter choose which pair she wants to sport to encourage her independence in the process.

Quick Tip

You can skip the shopping process and give the undies as an exciting gift for your little girl and let her know she's about to learn a really cool big girl skill.

Choose a Potty She's Comfortable On

Comfort is a big factor in the early days of potty training since your little one might spend a lot of time sitting on the potty before she has her first successful deposit. Once you choose a potty you think will work, let her get familiar with sitting down on it completely clothed.

If she struggles to sit or seems uncomfortable after a few tries, you might want to switch to a different shape or size. Finding the right potty will help her feel comfortable as she learns this new skill.

Show Her What to Do

Before you ever start the real potty training process, you need to prep your little girl for this next step of toddlerhood. Let her see mom or another trusted female go potty so she understands what it's supposed to look like and that it's a natural thing that all girls do.

Demonstrate how to raise and lower bottoms, how to wipe, and how to wash your hands. Being familiar with the process will take away some of those initial fears she might have when potty training day finally arrives.

Need to Know

It's important to demonstrate wiping front to back before you ever start the potty training process. Developing the habit of wiping the opposite way may be hard to break later down the road and can cause bacterial infections for girls.

Use Dolls to Prepare Her

Once she sees a real life example of going potty, help her show you what to do with dolls or stuffed animals. Let her be the mommy in the scenario and help her little stuffed friend go potty like a big girl. Teaching her dolls or stuffed animals how to use the bathroom might help her when it's her turn to be the student.

Consider Skipping the No-Bottoms Approach

Though the diaperless method used in some potty training approaches works really well, it isn't always a success with girls. You can still skip the diaper or pull up but keep her comfortably covered with a pair of underwear. This may mean more laundry for you, but she may prefer having something on instead of nothing.

While pull ups would provide an easier clean up, underwear will help her sense when she's had an accident and how uncomfortable that can be. You'll still have easy accessibility for helping her go in a "right now" sort of situation and she'll feel comfortable without developing a dependency on pull ups.

Embrace Her Independent Personality

Most toddler girls have no shortage of fierce independence. Two going on twenty, right? This might actually work to your advantage in the potty training days. When she sees how much independence going to the bathroom gives her, she might embrace the whole idea.

Allow her to choose her own underwear or decide the color of the potty she'll have. Let her decide on the location of her little potty and what books or toys she may want nearby.

Quick Tip

If she expresses a desire to lower her own bottoms or attempt to wipe herself, you might want to let her do so and just follow behind her with proper technique. Feeling that she's doing something on her own, like a big girl, can encourage her on her potty training journey.

Weigh the Pros and Cons of Treats

Many professionals and parents alike warn against using treats to encourage your child to use the potty, but your daughter's personality may work with this method. Only you know for sure how she might respond, but if you're halfway through the process and feel like nothing is working, this might be a method worth trying.

Start by offering treats the first few times she successfully sits on the potty for more than a few seconds. Then move on to only offering her a treat when she's peed in the potty. Once you've celebrated that success a few times, only give treats for a full day of no accidents. Eventually, you can use the treat method to encourage her first poop in the potty. Before you know it, going potty will just be a normal part of her day and she won't expect a treat each time.

The treat you choose is totally up to you. Small cookies, fruit snacks, stickers, or a tiny piece of candy are encouraging choices. If you prefer to avoid impractical or sugar-packed treats, you can always opt for affordable educational items like crayons, coloring pages, and flash cards.

Since are some downsides to using treats - such as a child's expection of a treat every time, or potentially withholding going to the bathroom for a bigger treat -weigh the pros and cons in deciding whether to use a reward-based method.

Know When to Pause

As soon as your little girl shows potty training readiness signs at 18 months, it's tempting to jump into potty training with determination to see it through. But this process isn't about our determination as parents, but rather the readiness our children have developed. If you start trying to potty train and your daughter is resisting a lot or getting extremely upset when she can't grasp the skills, it may be time to take a break.

Need to Know

If you decide it's time to back off of potty training, try to revisit the idea in one or two months and look for signs of readiness or eagerness that may not have been there before. Potty training isn't a race, and the best time to start is when your daughter is truly ready.

Real Moms' Tips for Potty Training Girls

When it comes to potty training girls, there's no one more trustworthy than a parent who already went through the process! These are some of our mom-tested tips for potty training a girl.

happy mom and daughter
  • Get Extra Undies: Find underwear she loves and buy extras, including duplicates of her favorites. Your little girl might prefer that one pair of pink floral or character-print underwear to all the rest - and having a few extras might come in handy during tough potty training days.
  • Give her some control: Let her pick out her fresh pair of undies every time she needs a change. Having some control over this new and scary process will help her feel confident.
  • Observation can be key: Allow your daughter to observe mom as she uses the restroom so you can demonstrate proper hygiene, like wiping front to back. Whenever you need to go, let her be your little tag-along.
  • Choose easy-on, easy-off clothing: Think about the types of clothing she'll wear in the early days of potty training (and even in those few weeks after she gets the hang of things). Tights, jumpers with excessive fasteners, and super frilly dresses might prove frustrating for you when she announces she has to go.
  • Choose potty-friendly swimwear too: You might also consider swapping her usual one-piece swimsuit for a two-piece, so going to the bathroom on a pool day is a lot easier.
  • Educate her on public restrooms: On your first few outings post-successful potty training, show your daughter how to properly use a public restroom and what it looks like. Demonstrate the proper way to prep the seat for hygienic use and how to avoid touching extra germy spots like door handles or toilet seats.
  • Watch for signs of nighttime readiness: Look for dry pull ups during outings or after a full night's sleep. This may be a sign she's ready to let go of them and move on to big girl underwear 24/7.
  • Praise her success! Celebrate her success often and with lots of joy. Jumping, dancing, shouting, and clapping - or just praising her efforts in whatever way makes her feel seen - will let her know what a big deal it is to potty like a big girl.

Set Her Up for Success

Potty training can often feel like one of life's biggest tests, especially for parents. But you can prepare your daughter for the potty training process and help her succeed at this first of many trial-and-error situations. With your support and dedication, she'll be going potty like a big girl in no time and you can finally change your last diaper.

Parent-Tested Tips on Potty Training a Girl Without the Stress