5 Potty Hacks for Toilet Training Boys

This post is sponsored by Charmin Ultra Soft. All the opinions, ideas, and stories below are my own. #CharminAtSamsClub

5 potty hacks for toilet training boys

Potty training is still going with Calvin but at least it’s going better than it did with his sister. (Remember my epic potty meltdown? Good times.) I think it’s a combination of the fact that he isn’t as emotionally resistant to the potty and I’m not as emotionally attached to the idea of “getting this right” so we’re all a little more relaxed about it.

We actually started toilet training him a long time ago and it was only because of sheer laziness that we stopped. He was getting it, but dragging them both into public restrooms every five minutes was really annoying so we decided to wait until he could go longer between pit stops. If we had stuck to it originally, I’m sure this would be all taken care of by now but I’m not stressing it. He’s getting it and accidents happen and it’s all fine.

This is, of course, helped by the fact that I finally learned some things about toilet training, especially when it comes to boys. So, here are 5 potty hacks to make life a little easier for you.

1 /// Have a designated potty station.

Potty station

Our potty station consists of a small rug, the potty, and a little basket with books, new undies, and Calvin’s toilet paper. Originally we just had the potty in the bathroom with no frills, but there seemed to be some confusion about where it needed to be, whether bath toys could be stored in it, whether or not it was ok to stand in it to reach the counter, etc. Having everything together like this makes it a lot more clear what the potty is for.

Also, that rug might seem like a bad idea, but it’s a necessary boundary for Calvin’s potty space and it’s one of those cheap mats from IKEA that washes well so we have a little stack of extras. I actually prefer being able to swap them out to wash just so I know a clean surface is happening. Those rouge splashes can be hard to see on the tile.

Potty station on IKEA rug

2 /// Flip that potty.

Raise your hand if you saw the photos above and immediately started to compose an email in your head that went something like, “Dear Carly, I love your blog but your potty is backwards and I’m so embarrassed for you. Fail.”

Yes, technically that potty is backwards. No, I’m not that clueless. It’s flipped on purpose, because we’re training Calvin to potty like this:

Flip the potty

Why? Well, when we first started with the potty training, we were pleased to see that Calvin was perfectly comfortable using his potty. Really, really comfortable. In fact, he’d lean back, get cozy, pop open a book, and make himself at home.

Potty book

Anyone see the problem with this? If you’ve raised boys, you probably know. When Calvin made himself comfortable and leaned back in his new potty chair, everything was anatomically not going in the right direction and suddenly the only place in the bathroom that was not going to be collecting pee was the potty. The joy of raising boys…

So, we flipped it and taught him to lean forward, kind of like he’s riding a horse, so that everything goes in the right direction. I’ve seen potties that have a little catch guard and lots of people have told me that he just needs to learn to direct things himself, which I’m sure is what we’ll move on to eventually, but I’m fine with this method for now. If anything, I feel like he’s more focused on what he’s doing and less focused on reading books while pantless.

Potty training boys

Oh, and if you’re wondering how we’re ever going to make this work out in the real world where the toilets aren’t all flipped around, everything still works and still goes in the right direction. We have to do major hand washing, but that’s pretty much true whenever bathroom visits happen.

Sit backwards on the toilet

3 /// Give him his own toilet paper.

A while ago, Calvin figured out that if you put the end of the toilet paper and flushed, the rest of the toiled paper would magically get sucked down. Not a fun game for Mama and it led to two things: (1) Calvin was no longer allowed to even touch the family toilet paper and (2) I bought a lot of the cheapest toilet paper I could find, since I anticipated it would be leaving the house rapidly until he got bored of his new trick.

I was surprised by a couple of things. For one, Calvin liked having his own toilet paper and started taking a lot of pride in the fact that WE weren’t allowed to touch HIS toilet paper. He also had an easier time using toilet paper that wasn’t mounted on the wall. I hacked a ring stacking toy to make him his own holder and now it’s a permanent part of his potty station.


I also learned that cheap toilet paper is the worst way to save money, especially if you’re potty training. The stuff I had picked up basically disintegrated whenever it got wet, which led to shouts of “Mama, not working!!!” and then a horrible exchange that was a lot like the worst paper mache project you can imagine. That stuff is also so unpleasant on your skin, Calvin just kind of gave up on wiping for a while (NO THANKS) so we switched back to Charmin Ultra Soft.


Charmin Ultra Soft

The good thing is that he’s no longer interested in watching the paper disappear rapidly and we’re able to save money on the good stuff by picking it up at Sam’s Club.


The rolls have an extra 1000 sheets per roll, so I don’t even have to stress that Calvin is still waaaaaay overestimating how much toilet paper he needs. (Believe me, right now I’ll take too much wiping over the alternative…)



4 /// Pick a few books and don’t swap them out.

We used to have a whole passel of books for Eva to choose from when she was toilet training so that we could keep her interested enough to stay. (Eva also got charts and rewards and candy and all sorts of things that Calvin hasn’t needed. High-maintenance, that one.) With Calvin, we quickly figured out that if he had new books, he would stay in the bathroom forever and if he did use the potty, it would be completely accidental and he probably wouldn’t even notice.

So, the bookworm gets a few books to look at, but they’re always the same and they don’t leave the bathroom. They’re beloved, but they’re also cheap enough to be replaced if craziness happens (although I do have them protected in an extra plastic container just in case…).

Potty books

5 /// Put liners in his undies.

Ok, this hack is a little out there but stick with me. We used pull-up training diapers with Eva and they were great, but with Calvin he doesn’t seem to differentiate between those and regular diapers. They’re supposed to be a little less absorbent to make it easier for the kid to tell when he’s wet, but that’s not Calvin’s issue. Calvin knows when he’s going to the bathroom. He also, as we found out, knows that if he’s got a pull-up on, he doesn’t need to interrupt his playing to make it to the potty. It will do all the work for him until we change him and do all of that work ourselves. Blah.

So, undies undies undies…EXCEPT it’s not that easy. Wet underwear doesn’t phase me (rinse, launder, try again) but truly soiled underwear is pretty gross and I tend to just toss them in the garbage if it’s too much, which isn’t economical. So, to save the undies from becoming disposable without going all the way back to disposable pull ups, we’ve started using panty liners designed to help with incontinence. They’re cheaper than training diapers and I position them so that they don’t catch anything in the front, but they help protect the undies in the back AND catch more of the mess if the boy happens to be sitting on something like the carpet or our microfiber sofa.

I know it sounds bananas, but they seem to be perfectly comfortable and I think he’ll transition to undies without liners when he’s ready without even noticing anything has changed. Just be sure you get the little incontinence liners – a maxi-pad is not going to fit in a 2T brief. Note: he doesn’t even see me put them in, since I put them in undies right as they come out of the clean laundry, so I’m not actually sure he even knows he’s using them. Mom’s little secret…

Liners for potty training

Ok, readers, what brilliant hacks did I miss? You can win 1 of 53 $50 Sam’s Club giftcard by sharing your potty training tip/trick and #CharminatSamsClub on Twitter or Instagram. Good luck!

$50 Sam’s Club Gift Card Giveaway for Charmin

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  • Reply Helen

    I need all the advice I can get right now. We are having a hard time with potty training. Our poor guy is so anxious about it. I think we may have left it too late?!? He’s almost 4… Thanks for the tips!

    Helen XO

    November 16, 2015 at 3:00 pm
  • Reply Eden

    Our daughter will be 3 next month and we have seen great progress in the past 3 weeks – the child has to want to do it. Age doesn’t matter. they are too young at one to even understand the concept. It has nothing to do with disposable diapers. In my opinion cloth is a waste of time and money. It’s not very pratical with the society we are in today. We started with potty access back in ebruary, and sure enough she did it when she was ready and not pesterd. And trust me I pestered and was very frustrated. Once we left her alone, she figured it out

    May 15, 2016 at 1:10 am
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