How to get your toddler to poop on the potty in 12 easy steps

toddler sitting on potty

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Potty training can hold all sorts of ups AND downs. Especially when getting your toddler to poop on the toilet proves to be a little more difficult than anticipated! Here’s how to get your toddler to poop on the potty (and avoid the headache).

First things first, reaching a pooping roadblock is pretty typical with the good ole’ potty training.

I think it is just all part of the experience.

Don’t feel like something is wrong with your child because they don’t want to poop on the potty. I can assure you, that you aren’t alone!

Depending on when you decide to potty train does actually have quite an effect on the whole pooping problem most mother’s experience with their littles.

13 ways to get your toddler to poop on the potty

Why potty training early can help your toddler poop on the potty

In my own personal opinion, I really think the earlier you can potty train, the better off you are.

If your toddler does experience some difficulty with pooping at first, it is pretty short-lived, and before you know it, they are an expert.

I think if you can potty train before age 2, (and you want to) you are golden! Or at least around that age is pretty good.

The longer you wait the harder it will be. The older your toddler is the bigger the power struggles are. It is just that simple.

Think of it this way, after 3+ years of pooping in a diaper, when you present a completely foreign way of pooping to your toddler, no wonder there is a protest!

They are so used to going in their diaper that the toilet seems scary, intimidating, and confusing.

Potty training early will help your toddler poop on the potty because soon that will be all that they remember doing.

Plus, as toddlers enter their 3rd and 4th year, they become more defiant, independent, and strong-willed, well in my experience anyway.

All those things are good traits but could definitely make potty training and pooping on the potty more of a headache than it needs to be.

Not only that but persuading a 3 or 4 year old is going to be a lot harder than a 2 year old. They are more set in their ways and may not want to comply as easy.

Why won’t my toddler won’t poop in the potty?

No matter the age, it is quite common for your toddler to have certain feelings when it comes to the potty.

And especially when it comes to pooping on the potty!

One of the biggest reasons your toddler won’t poop on the potty usually boils down to fear and uncertainty.

Think about it, if your toddler has never seen a potty before, why do you think they will have no question about pooping in it.

Check out How to potty train a boy by age 2 for more information on potty training early.

Even if you have introduced the potty beforehand so it isn’t completely new to them, pooping while sitting on a potty can feel very different from pooping in a diaper.

Toddlers like to feel in control and they also like the feeling of familiarity.

toddler poop on the potty

The potty can throw all sorts of feelings into the mix and leave your little one quite frankly scared.

Especially if you are having them sit on a potty seat on the big toilet, that whole scene resembles something similar to a black hole.

Which doesn’t seem all that inviting, does it?

Certain personalities can also give a different take on pooping on the potty and some may handle it better than others.

Pooping in the potty vs pooping in a diaper is a big change.

So, if your toddler doesn’t seem to handle change very well that could also be another reason to why your toddler won’t poop on the potty.

Don’t worry, there is hope, I promise!

12 steps to get your toddler to poop on the potty

  1. Make the potty familiar
  2. Avoid Constipation
  3. Know their poop schedule
  4. Ask and remind
  5. Help them mimic the squatting position
  6. Perfect the poop muscle
  7. Offer distraction and make the potty fun
  8. Incentive, motivate and bribe
  9. Celebrate when they succeed
  10. Don’t make accidents a bad experience
  11. Give them privacy
  12. Don’t resort back to diapers

Whether you are dealing with a defiant toddler who refuses to poop on the potty, or you are just trying to tackle potty training armed with all the knowledge and help you can get, there is hope, I promise.

Your child is going to learn sooner or later that pooping on the potty isn’t all that bad.

Just be patient and follow these super simple steps and I know you will be able to get over your toddlers pooping hurdle or pretty much avoid it altogether.

1. Make the potty familiar

The reason why toddlers get scared about pooping on the toilet is that they just aren’t used to it.

They have never pooped like that before. Pooping in a diaper is way more familiar and comfortable than pooping on a cold toilet or potty seat.

If you can make the potty part of your everyday life and have them sit on the potty frequently, it will quickly become something they are familiar with and comfortable with.

Before you even start actually potty training, find a consistent time to have your child sit on the potty.

The more familiar the potty becomes the easier pooping on it will be.

2. Avoid them getting constipated

Ok, we have probably all been there, right?

Constipation is the worst! Trust me, postpartum recovery let me experience that one big time.

If your toddler is constipated and having a hard time going poop anyway, trying to coax them to poop on the potty is just going to make the whole situation a whole lot worse!

Make sure you are offering a well-balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, fiber, and a good probiotic.

As a family we drink raw milk, and that greatly helps avoid constipation. My little guy has never had constipation on raw dairy products.

Providing a diet that gives your child the right balance of each food group will give your child a healthy gut and easy bowel movements.

This may not provide the best visual, but you want your toddler’s poop to just slide on out.

If they are battling and straining to get that poop out, your toddler’s experience on the potty won’t be one they want to do again.

Especially when they only can get a few hard, round rabbit droppings to make it in the potty.

What you feed has to come out, so try to create a diet that promotes a healthy digestive system.

3. Know their poop schedule

Most toddlers have some sort of a schedule when it comes to pooping.

Some like to go in the morning while others prefer a quiet afternoon poop behind the couch.

If your child isn’t quite ready to be potty trained yet, great!

Learn your toddler’s poop schedule and if you see them thinking about squatting and filling that diaper, take them to the potty and have them go there instead.

If you can get your child to do some poops on the potty before you even actually begin potty training, you will be like 10 steps ahead.

If you are jumping right into potty training, it is still good to know their poop schedule AND or their poop cues.

It is pretty typical for toddlers to treat underwear just like a diaper, so you have to be a really good watchdog for that first week or so.

If your toddler sneaks off to their favorite corner to do their business, explain to them that we poop on the potty and not in our underwear.

It is helpful to catch them before they are in the middle of the act.

Do your best and be aware of WHEN or HOW they usually like to go about doing a number 2.

4. Ask and remind

Toddlers love to learn, and they also like to feel like they know the answers to things.

Not only that but they are often full of questions and answers and seem to enjoy a lot of attention…..right?!

Or maybe that is just my toddler?!

Regardless if I am the only one who has a toddler that fits that description, asking your toddler if they need to go poop will help them remember and be more aware that poop goes in the potty.

Remind your toddler that they are a big girl or boy and no longer needs diapers.

Explain that’s why they have underwear now and they poop in the toilet.

It seems silly, but simply asking if they need to go and reminding them WHERE they go, will eventually begin to stick, make sense and seem normal to them.

5. Help them mimic the squatting position

I am a big lover of the squatty potty, and if you don’t know what that is, you need to!

It will change your whole bathroom experience.

Anyway, enough about my bathroom favorites, let’s look at how your toddler likes to go poo.

Usually, most toddlers will take to a squatting position which seems like the most comfortable and natural way to go, right?

If you are trying to persuade your toddler to go on the big toilet and it feels nothing like how they usually manage that task, no wonder they protest.

Squatting offers toddlers the pressure of pushing down on the ground with their feet.

So, if their feet either can’t touch the ground on the potty or their feet are dangling from the seat of the big toilet, there is no way for them to push down on something and recreate that similar squatting stance.

Make sure you get a potty that they can touch the ground with or use a step stool if they are going on the big toilet.

When my toddler wanted to go on the big toilet, I would kneel in front of him and let him rest his feet on my thighs, so he had something to push down on.

6. The poop muscle

This is the tricky one, but once your child gets it, it’s a piece of cake.

Peeing is usually pretty easy for toddlers to pick up but when it comes to pooping on the potty, that’s a whole different ball game.

Try to teach your toddler to learn how to use their “poop muscle”

You can use sounds, grunts, make faces, ask them to show you how strong they are with their muscles, do anything to help them figure out how to tense their muscles, and push that poop out.

Once they start to figure out how to engage that muscle, it will make pooping a little easier, especially as they become more aware of actually HOW to poop, instead of just going whenever they felt like it in their diaper while playing.

7. Offer distraction and make the potty fun

To be able to poop you have to relax.

If your toddler is tense, anxious, or nervous, pooping is probably going to be a little bit harder.

Offering some sort of distraction while your toddler sits on the potty can help them relax and have a better chance of going.

I would offer my toddler a book to read or a small suitable toy for the bathroom to hold and look at.

Distraction will take away the fear of pooping and help them feel comfortable and at ease.

A few times when I knew my toddler HAD to poop, I allowed him to watch a short potty themed song on my phone to help him be distracted and learn about going to the bathroom on the potty.

I don’t offer the screen to my toddler very often so he really did enjoy this but then if I am honest, it did backfire on me because when I would turn it off, he would get upset, throw a tantrum and then the whole experience turned out not how I had hoped.

You know your child’s personality so if you think a short show or song on your phone will help, go for it.

I also would play music and sing songs with my toddler instead of letting him actually watch something, and that seemed to work better for him!

Less tears anyway!

8. Incentive, motivate, and bribe

Yep, I guess you could say I am totally telling you to bribe your toddler.

And I am sure some say that is a terrible tactic and is completely the wrong way to do it, which might be true.

But I can tell you that it totally works. Figure out what will be a good motivator for your toddler and roll with it.

My guy LOVES tractors so I found an awesome cool little $7 tractor at the toy store and told him if he went poop in the potty he would get a RED tractor prize.

Well, let’s just say that little red tractor sat in the closet for a good 7 days while my toddler pooped in his undies and I was doing the dirty work of scraping said poop out of his undies.

About a week of pooping in underwear and my constant reminders of the tractor prize if he would just go in the potty, finally it clicked, and he earned himself that special prize.

And I won’t lie, that week of pooping in underwear was treacherous!

Nothing glamorous about it and on some of the days I just wanted to toss the underwear instead of cleaning nasty poop out of it.

Oh, and don’t forget the poop that got on his legs, socks, and bathmat while I would try to carefully pull the poopy underwear off of him.

Alas, poop always seemed to get smeared everywhere.

See, I told you it wasn’t pretty!

But the end results are worth it, don’t worry!

I also bought some small super cheap animals as little prizes as I didn’t want to spend $7 on a toy every time!

After a couple of weeks of being so successful at pooping on the potty, he didn’t even bother asking for a prize anymore as it was more of just a normal everyday thing to him.

The bribes were worth it because I saved so much money on diapers.

If you don’t want to offer small prizes for a reward you could do stickers or little treats instead.

9. Make a big deal when they succeed

When they do finally poop in the potty, praise the heck out of them.

Let them know they are amazing, brave, and smart!

Make it clear to them that they did the right thing so that they understand and will do it again.

It is just like training a dog. Positive reinforcement all the way, my friends.

Give lots of praise and make them feel over the moon.

Do a silly dance or sing a funny song, whatever makes them smile and laugh.

All these things will make the whole pooping thing a nice experience and they will begin to realize it is nothing to be afraid of.

Reward them with that incentive or motivator you promised beforehand.

10. Don’t make accidents a bad experience

With that being said, don’t make accidents the best experience of their life, otherwise, there will be no reason or effort to poop on the potty.

But it is important to avoid making them feel really bad and upset when they do have an accident.

Let’s face it, accidents WILL happen.

You are going to have to scrape poop out of underwear more than once and you are going to want to heave in the process.

But do your best to still keep potty training a safe experience for your child.

By all means, explain to them that they shouldn’t poop in their underwear and even involve them in the clean up process.

Drop the poop from the underwear into the toilet and SHOW them that is where the poop goes.

Show them the poop in the underwear and explain why that poop ruins the underwear and makes it feel sad.

This especially works if you chose underwear that has characters on it.

Make it clear that we DON’T poop in underwear but also tell them that accidents happen and we will try better next time.

Now depending on the age of your toddler, if accidents are persistent and your child doesn’t seem to be taking things seriously, that is when I would start offering fair consequences.

With older toddlers, there needs to be an incentive to make the right decision.

If pooping in the toilet is something they aren’t trying very hard to do, that is when I would start implementing consequences so they can take you more seriously.

11. Give a little privacy

Some toddlers may do better with a little privacy.

After all, why do you think they hide behind the couch to poop anyway?

If you are sat there staring at them wishing they would just poop, that could feel a little overwhelming and provide too much pressure for success.

Maybe staying in the room and just turning away will be all they need, or you could just sit outside the door.

Obviously, your toddler needs to be safe if you aren’t going to be right next to them.

So, make sure of that first.

But a little privacy may be all your toddler needs.

I mean who likes to poop with an audience, right?!

12. Don’t resort back to diapers

Whatever you do, DO NOT resort back to diapers.

I know after a week of cleaning poop out of underwear, you are wishing that diaper lifestyle back.


It will only slow your success and show your toddler that you will just put a diaper back on to poop in.

When you decide to potty train, there really is no turning back.

I know that sounds intense and extreme, but honestly, it really isn’t. You just have to promise yourself you will stick to it.

Going to the bathroom in the big potty is now just a way of normal everyday life.

Your child has graduated from diapers, so no need to reintroduce them.

That just sends confusing messages to your toddler and will make everything worse.

Lastly, be consistent

That about wraps it up. But to end with it is important to remember to be consistent.

Consistency will bring reward and your toddler will eventually learn to poop on the potty.

Just like anything, consistency is needed, and especially when it comes to toddlers and potty training.

Even if you encounter setbacks, just remember to be consistent, and don’t give up.

My toddler was potty trained before age 2 and I can tell you that it was 100% worth the hard work and effort for a couple of weeks because now I don’t have to clean poopy diapers and spend a fortune on buying them.

Consistency is key!

Keep up the good work. It pays off, I promise!

What are your current potty training struggles? What is the biggest reason your toddler won’t poop on the potty?


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