The idea of potty training your toddler can be overwhelming— and so can choosing the right method for you and your child. While there are many different philosophies on how to potty train out there, one popular (and controversial) way of doing so is using a 3 day method. Read on for everything you need to know about this bootcamp style of potty training.

What are 3 day potty training methods? 

Three-day potty training methods are “bootcamp” style potty training methods that claim your child will be potty trained after an intense 3 days.

Why 3 days? 

It takes roughly 3 days for the average child to get over the major initial hump of potty training. However most children will still be having accidents after 3 days.


What is the process for 3 day potty training? 

Each method differs slightly, but the idea is to stay home and have no plans other than potty training for 3 days and prompt often. Overall the 3 days look as follows:

  • Day 1:The most intense day. Your child wakes up, and you have them throw away their diapers “for good.” Then the rest of the day the child stays nude from the waist down. Have lots of fluids on hand, and keep a close eye on them. Prompt to go to the bathroom every 15 minutes. Make sure to cut off all liquids after dinner and wake them halfway through the night to pee.
  • Day 2 & 3: Continue to stay home and prompt. Keep an eye out to start to learn your child’s signs. Accidents will happen. It’s important not to react and keep the experience positive.


At what age do you start your child with 3 day potty training? 

The range seems to vary a little from method to method, but most 3 day potty training advocates recommend somewhere between 18 and 30 months.


What are the benefits of 3 day potty training?

No more diapers, wipes, etc. Not only will parents save a lot of money, but the idea of having your child using the toilet on their own in just 3 days is certainly an appealing notion.


Is 3 day potty training healthy for your child? 

The 3 day potty training methods often cause challenges for toddlers, because they put increasing pressure not only on the toddler, but on the whole family dynamic.


According to Quaira Smith, pediatric pelvic floor therapist and expert that leads our potty training class, this type of method can cause toddlers to be expected to be fully continent of pee and poop within such a short amount of time, which is unrealistic for their biological and developmental age level. “This often rushed 3 day process does not give the child enough practice opportunities with bowel and bladder control (ie sphincter control and pelvic floor muscles coordination) in a gentle approach that many parents desire, and can lead to a child withholding pee and poop, if they are not ready to void in a floor potty or toilet right away.”


What challenges come with 3 day potty training methods? 

While the notion of potty training your child in three days sounds great, it’s not a realistic timeframe. This can cause parents to get hyper-focused on the “allotted” time, and put extra pressure on the child resulting in negative side effects.

According to Smith, The most common challenges she has seen in her clinical experience with the 3 day approach are the following:

  • Prompting to use the toilet is often too frequent and in too short of a time interval between the prompting (ie. having your child sit on the potty every 15-30 minutes).
  • Child resists using the potty and withholds pee and poop.
  • Child will pee or poop in training underwear or pull-ups when they are placed into them, which signals they are not comfortable letting the pee or poop out on the potty even after the 3 day method has passed.
  • Constipation due to withholding stool, because they do not feel comfortable letting it out on the potty.
  • Parents/caregivers not on the same page about following the process and having differing views, which can make it difficult on the child.
  • Not enough experience and opportunities using bathrooms and potty/toilets outside of the home. This can lead to withholding when the child is in a new environment outside the home.
  • Not making the potty training process about teaching and guiding a child to develop body autonomy, agency and skill building as it related to this self care task of toileting.


If you are worried about these challenges, or have tried 3 day potty training without success, and are facing some of these challenges, check out our new class, Potty Training: The Stress-Free Guide to Success.  “Our approach guides toddlers and families on the journey of potty training with a developmentally appropriate approach which is based in medical science,” says Smith, “and encourages skill building as it relates to bladder and bowel control and supporting good pelvic health through childhood and beyond”