Top 11 Tips for Potty Training Twins

Potty training is both a milestone and a challenge for both parents and children alike. Add twins or multiples to the equation, and you're looking at double the journey. You may long for the day when you can ditch the double diapers, yet you may be unsure about how to potty train twins without it being a stressful task. But don't despair. With these tips, potty training your twins can be a successful mission.

1

Prime Your Twins Ahead of Time

Mother teaching her baby boy how to use potty

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Before actually beginning the potty training process, you can attempt to make it easier by preparing your twins for what's to come. You can do this by reading children's books about potty training and taking them shopping for fun new underwear.

2

Look for Signs of Readiness

Children eating

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Are your twins ready for potty training? The timing for toilet training can vary widely, beginning as young as 18 months or as late as 3 years old.

If your twins are not developmentally ready to train, you'll encounter more resistance and frustration. Evaluate your twins individually to determine the right timing for them.

Signs of readiness include showing an interest when others use the toilet, the ability to go for an extended length of time without wetting a diaper, hiding in a private place when they feel the urge to go, being uncomfortable with a soiled diaper, and wanting to wear "big kid" underwear.

But remember, your twins are individuals. They may not be ready at the same time.

3

Consider the Calendar

Mother potty training daughter (2-3)

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Choose your timing wisely. Once you've established that your twins are ready, take a good look at the calendar.

Though tempting, try to avoid instituting the process of potty training based on a deadline. If you are under pressure to train before the start of preschool or a family vacation, for instance, you may encounter resistance.

Anticipate other big changes in your twins' lives. Are you planning a move, a change in routine, or the birth of a sibling? All of these changes can be too overwhelming ​for a child who is also trying to master the toilet.

4

Weigh the Pros and Cons of One-on-One Training

Girl using toilet

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Certainly, it is easiest to train both twins at the same time. However, it may not work for all families.

Identical (monozygotic) twins are easiest to train simultaneously because of their similar metabolism. However, many parents have found that girls sometimes show signs of being ready and get the hang of potty training quicker than boys. As such, boy/girl twins are more likely to require differentiated training.

If you do potty train both at the same time, your twins may benefit from companionship and competition, encouraging and challenging each other's successes and setbacks. Nevertheless, don't be surprised if one's success causes the other to regress. You'll have to decide whether a one-on-one approach is more effective.

For some twins, potty training together is simply too distracting and disruptive. Potty time can turn into playtime, often with very messy results.

5

Make Rewards Work for You

Twin boys eating sandiwches

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Many parents have great success using incentives and rewards.

With twins, this can work to your advantage, or create havoc. You know your twins best and will have to evaluate their dynamics. You only want to offer a reward with success, but how will the other twin react when they don't receive one?

Some twins don't have the cognitive ability to connect the cause and consequences, and you'll only incite unnecessary tantrums. However, if your twins are competitive, the presentation of a reward for successful potty-ing may prove to be highly motivating.

Find your twins' individual currency. What works? Is it candies, toys, or other small gifts? Perhaps the promise of an adventure or activity is a more appropriate reward.

6

Consider Investing in Two Potty Seats

Baby boy sitting on a toilet bowl in a supermarket

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There are some things that multiples won't share, so it might be in everyone's best interest to buy at least two potty seats.

If you try to get by with one—even if they are training at different times—there is very likely to be a showdown when they both try to go at the same time. If you find yourself in this scenario, simply emphasize the importance of taking turns and consider enforcing reasonably timed toilet sessions to avoid conflict.

To reduce squabbles, consider investing in standalone potty chairs rather than inserts that fit into the toilet. You may even want to consider multiple sets to place throughout the house, such as in the playroom for immediate access.

If your twins are stingy about sharing, you can designate ownership, but in the long run, this can cause extra drama for children who only want to go in "their" potty. However, it may be more necessary to specify with a boy and girl, especially if you are using a splash guard or deflector on the potty seat.

7

Expect Double the Mess

potty training

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While potty training twins, you can expect that there will be double the mess. Accept that there will be setbacks and there will be accidents. Know that they're coming and prepare your home accordingly.

Stock up on cleaning supplies so that you're ready to address the mess. If you are concerned about permanent stains or damage, protect the areas of your house that cause concern.

Use gates to keep potty training twins out of rooms that are off-limits. Put away expensive throw rugs or bedspreads. Cover furniture and floors with tarps. Determine if you want to use nighttime training pants like Pull-Ups rather than underwear until your children are consistently waking up dry.

Don't freak out about accidents. Simply enlist your child's help in cleaning up, and move on. Be patient and remember to maintain a sense of humor.

8

Be Flexible

Mother and son high-fiving after he uses the potty

David P. Hall / Getty Images

Even though they're twins, a "one-size-fits-all" approach won't always work. Some parents and children have success with the 3-day method, while others simply need to give it as much time as it takes. Be flexible.

Tailor your responses to your individual children. Some children respond to gushing praise, while others prefer less of a fuss. Some need continual reminders; some need to control the process themselves. Some are open about their bodily functions, while others prefer privacy.

You know your children best and can determine the approach that will be most effective. While you may develop a successful routine during the day at home, different tactics may be required for other times like when you're out of the house.

How will you handle naptimes, overnights, outings, or daycare? Remember to pack the potty, as well as extra cleaning supplies and perhaps puppy pads to protect your car seats. If accidents occur, take them in stride. Be prepared for other challenges, such as bouts of constipation, to potentially put a snag in potty-training efforts. Flexibility is the key to success.

9

Stick to a Similar Schedule

Little baby boy is sitting on potty in the living room

 

dexter_s / Getty Images

Training twins at the same time is often the most efficient approach for parents. If that's the path that you choose, you'll find more success by keeping your twins on a similar schedule.

Many parents relied on a schedule for their twins when they were infants and they find that it works effectively for potty training as well. When twins eat, drink, and sleep on the same schedule, they're also more likely to "use the facilities" together.

Introducing potty time as part of their daily routine can help them use the toilet consistently.

10

Dress for Success

Two children sitting on wooden floor in front of patio door playing with soft toy and cubes.

Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Many families prefer to potty train when the weather is warm. The comfortable temperatures require less clothing, which often gets in the way and requires additional cleaning in the event of an accident.

Help your twins feel confident and independent as they master their toilet habits by dressing them in clothes that they can manage.

Favor easy-access clothing, such as pull-up pants or skirts. Forgo fussy snaps, zippers, or buttons. Save the special outfits for a later date when your twins are more likely to stay dry.

11

Be Mindful of Your Language

Daycare teacher playing with twin sisters.

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When potty training your twins, make a conscious effort to maintain a positive environment. In addition to praising them for using the potty, give positive reinforcement when they tell you they have to go, when they go to the bathroom on their own, or when they tell you they soiled their training pants, as these are all steps in the right direction.

Additionally, don't compare your twins to one another if one is picking up potty training faster than the other. For this reason, you may also want to avoid the sticker charts that many parents use when training one child at a time. Lastly, don't use shaming language or enforce punishments when one of your twins has an accident.

A Word From Verywell

At the end of the day, remember to keep things in perspective. Like all phases of parenting multiples, potty training is a temporary transition. Your children will learn to use the toilet, and you will eventually get rid of diapers. You can look forward to a day when they stay dry and use the bathroom independently. It will happen. In the meantime, be patient, flexible, and loving.

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  1. Kiddoo DA. Toilet training children: When to start and how to trainCMAJ. 2012;184(5):511–512. doi:10.1503/cmaj.110830