Potty Training Twins
Are your twins ready to ditch their diapers? I know what you’re thinking (because I’ve thought it too): double the pee, double the poop, double the work. Gah! Potty training twins sure seems like a daunting task.
For starters, you’ll need two of everything; your twins may not be ready to potty train at the same time, and there will undoubtedly be times when both kids need your help in the bathroom ASAP. Yes, there are some challenges that parents of singletons don’t have to deal with, but potty training twins isn’t actually that different from potty training one child (I know this from experience); and it can be done without a ton of stress.
So take a deep breath, parents, because it’s allllll going to be okay. Trust me on this: you may get off to a rough start, but your kids will not go to college (or even Kindergarten) in their diapers!
Read on to learn about the signs that your twins are ready to use the potty, the supplies you’ll need, the training methods you can use, and how to stay sane through the process.
How is Potty Training Twins Different From Potty Training One Child?
Whether you train your twins simultaneously or separately, there are still TWO tiny humans to contend with, which means you’re going to spend an awful lot of time in the bathroom. Just know this, accept it and remember it’s a short blip in the timeline of parenting.
Speaking of spending time in the bathroom, if your twins have synced up poop schedules, you’re destined to wipe two tushies right after the other. Fun stuff, right? Not to worry, though — as a parent of multiples, you’re already an expert multitasker… you’ve got this!
You’ll also need to keep in mind that during the potty training process, your twins may get jealous of each other, especially if they’re not progressing at the same pace. If that’s the case, try not to compare the two and to keep everything positive. As long as you stay as impartial and optimistic as possible, you may even find that a little jealousy can be a great motivator!
On the plus side, toddlers are inherently curious beings, and they like to help — a lot. Your twins will probably be interested in each other’s potty habits and may even want to help with flushing away each other’s business. Sounds gross, but go with it and use this endearing moment to your advantage. This teamwork mentality may encourage them to use the toilet, thus moving the potty training process along.
Finally, potty training twins requires a lot of flexibility. Remember that each twin is unique, and prepare yourself to really cater to and adapt your potty training method to each of them. More on that later.
When Should You Potty Train Twins?
Whether you have multiples or not, potty training success depends heavily on developmental and behavioral milestones — not so much age.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “many children show signs of being ready for potty training between ages 18 and 24 months. However, others might not be ready until they’re 3 years old. There’s no rush. If you start too early, it might take longer to train your kiddos.” We discuss age and readiness more in our Introduction to Potty Training.
If one or both of your twins is exhibiting any of the following behavior, they may be ready to start potty training:
- Keeping their diapers dry for longer stretches at a time (about two hours or so).
- They tell you when they need to go or when they are going potty/poop.
- They dislike being in wet/poopy diapers and will ask you to change them.
- Their poops start to become predictable and happen around the same time(s) each day.
- They can pull down their own pants (a skill necessary for using the potty independently).
- They ask to wear pull-ups or undies.
- They express a desire to sit on the potty or show interest in YOUR bathroom habits.
- They know the potty “lingo” — whatever you choose to use (potty/pee/urine, etc.; poop/bowel movement, etc; potty/toilet/bathroom/restroom, etc.).
What If One Twin Is Ready To Potty Train but the Other Isn’t?
We can’t say this enough: your twins may look alike, but they are not exactly the same. They are two different little people with their own needs, personalities and abilities. So just because one twin may be ready to start using the toilet doesn’t mean the other one is too. And that’s okay!
Case-in-point: one of my twins started to use the potty a month ago. To this day, the other one still has zero interest in doing it. She’s excited about her sister’s Anna and Elsa undies and bathroom endeavors, but she could care less about using the potty herself. When I brought it up to our pediatrician, she recommended that I encourage her to use the potty when her sister does, but without forcing or pushing her.
Why? Forcing a child to potty train when she isn’t ready becomes a battle of wills — a parent’s against the child’s. And the choice of whether or not to use the potty is one of the only things a toddler can control in his or her life. If you push too hard, it’s likely to become an all-out power struggle and could lead to resentment and regression.
That’s why I’m fine with not training both of them together. In fact, training separately works well for us — it allows me to focus all my attention on one kiddo at a time (a luxury that, as a twin parent, I’m not afforded very often).
At the end of the day, do what feels right for you and your family. If one of your twins isn’t ready, don’t stress about it: keep giving words of encouragement and be patient. Who knows, the twin who gets it first can end up being a positive influence on the other.
Potty Training Twins of Different Genders
If you have boy/girl twins, know that their personalities and their cognitive abilities will be the main indicators of whether they are ready to use the potty — not their genders.
That said, studies have suggested that girls may show interest in using the potty before boys. Anecdotally, some parents of boys I have spoken to have corroborated that information. But they’ve also said that once they decide it’s time, they get the hang of it rather quickly. That’s good news! If you have twins of different genders and you find your little girl is ready before your little boy, you can take solace in the fact that he’ll likely learn from her and catch on swiftly.
You’ll probably also have to approach the actual potty training differently with your boy and your girl. For instance, until your boy twin masters the art of peeing while standing, you’ll initially want to teach your him to do it sitting down. Once he gets the hang of that, then you (or Daddy) can teach him to aim for the toilet bowl and not the bathroom walls.
If you’re using potty chairs, you should get one with a “splash guard” feature for your boy, like this one from OXO.
A splash guard helps keep the pee in the bowl as opposed to splashing all over the floor. Girls can use a potty with a splash guard too, but it isn’t quite as necessary as it is for little boys.
What You’ll Need to Potty Train Twins
See also: Full List of Potty Training Gear
- Little potties (though some skip this and go straight to the big potties with a potty seat) — the same one for each twin to avoid fighting! If you want to differentiate them, you can let your little ones decorate them with stickers. Plus, they’ll get excited about using them.
- Step stools for the potty (if you use the big potty) and sink.
- A Timer, which you can set for every 15-20 minutes at first, so they get the hang of remembering to go to the potty (or you may even try a designated Potty Watch).
- Rewards (if this makes sense for you), like a chocolate chip, sticker, etc. Make sure your kids each have their own reward systems that work best for them.
- Undies that your twins pick out on their own.
- Pull-ups will still be useful for napping and at night. If you’re doing the two-day method, we recommend against wearing pull-ups during the day, as they are basically the same thing as diapers.
How to Potty Train Twins
There are a variety of methods you can use to teach your kids to use the potty (some of which we will discuss briefly below), from the Two-Day Method to a more relaxed style of simply putting little potties in the bathroom and encouraging your twins to use them whenever they feel the urge.
When it comes down to it, there’s no one right way to potty train — which method you use will all depend on your child’s personality and temperament (as well as yours!). And remember: what works best for one of your twins may not work for the other, so do your best to remain flexible.
Here are some of the most popular, tried-and-true potty training approaches. For a more comprehensive list of methods, read our full review of potty training methods here.
The Child Oriented (CO) or “Brazelton Approach”
With the Brazelton Method, you’ll follow a series of steps as you notice your twins’ readiness signals. Before starting each step, you must wait until your twins show interest. There is no schedule or timeline to follow; the child sets the pace.
Step 1: Kid meets the potty and sits on it, fully clothed. This is usually around 18 months or so. If that goes well…
Step 2: Kid sits on the potty with pants and diapers off and is praised if he goes. Don’t praise TOO heartily, though. Some experts warn, as that can build pressure. If that works out okay…
Step 3: Kid is put on the potty after he soils his diaper and the contents of the diaper are emptied into the potty; parent explains that poop and pee go into the potty. Later…
Step 4: Kid goes diaperless for short periods of time and is encouraged to use the potty independently.
If during this process, the child ever resists the potty, the parent is supposed to immediately stop training for one to two months and then start over again.
The Two-Day (or Three-Day) Method
This is our preferred method because it’s quick, has a high success rate and a low rate of regression. There are many variations of this method, but the general theme is the same: parents clear their schedules for an entire weekend (or three-day weekend, even) to commit to potty training. Again, check out the full guide to the Two-Day Method of Potty Training. On Day 1, the diapers are ceremoniously thrown away (for the daytime, at least). And then the training commences like so:
- Kiddos go commando (Look, Ma…no pants!).
- Offer them extra liquids and keep cups of water within their reach all day.
- Don’t leave the house for the duration of the two (or three) days (ahh! I know!).
- Walk your children to the potty every 15 minutes or so (setting a timer can be helpful).
- Expect accidents. They are normal and part of the learning process!
- Repeat for the next two days…and voila!
If you’re looking for a good resource to guide you through this method, Meg found the book Oh Crap! Potty Training to be extremely helpful and hilarious (because we all need a little humor when potty training, amirite?!).
If you’re going to go this route, here’s a fun tip I’ve learned from some fellow parents: at the start of the weekend, line the floors with newspaper or towels to protect your precious carpet or hardwood (who said toddlers aren’t like puppies?!).
Let your kids train themselves
I know, I know…this sounds like a dream. But there are definitely some children (one of my own, in fact) who decide for themselves when they are ready to use the potty, and then… do it. The amazing part of this approach is that it really eliminates stress, fuss and power struggles with your kids. The downside, of course, is that for some kids, it can take a long time to actually be ready. Whether this type of laid-back, “wait for your kids to tell you when they’re ready” method will work for you truly depends on you and your twins’ temperaments. It also means that you need to set extra flexible expectations for yourself and your kiddos. A kid-led method can result in twins learning to use the toilet as much as a year apart.
What You Should NOT Do When Potty Training Twins
- DON’T be negative. Remember — positivity is key! This is an exciting time for you and your twins; keep things light and upbeat.
- DON’T compare your twins’ progress. It IS okay to teach them to praise each other for successfully using the potty, but comparing their progress — especially if one is learning faster or having fewer accidents — might instigate feelings of jealousy or rivalry. Instead, encourage each of your twins for their individual efforts, and offer them praise for the things they are doing well (“Great job washing your hands, Sarah!” “Wow! You did such an awesome job of sitting patiently on the potty, Amy!” Etc.)
- DON’T use sticker charts. Many parents swear by sticker charts during potty training, but the problem with using them for twins is that it creates a blatant visual for who is doing better and who is “behind.” Instead, you can simply reward your children with a sticker for each successful potty try.
Our Favorite Potty Training Books for Kids
You can read all the potty-training books you want, but you’ll still need to get your little ones on board and interested. How do you do that? Books with happy potty training characters that they can relate to can be awesome motivators. Here are some of our faves.
Remember that with potty training twins, like with everything else in parenting, there will be successes and challenges. Try your best to remain flexible, take it all in stride, praise them for the wins, and guide them through their accidents. And if things aren’t working, it’s okay to take a step back and try again later. You’re a great parent (you’ve gotten this far with toddler twins, after all!), and your twins WILL get the hang of using the potty and one day — I swear it’s coming — keep their undies dry!
Good luck, Parents! You got this!
~ Marissa, Twins Editor
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