The best potty training books for parents

The best potty training books for parents create confidence and include a solid plan to succeed with toilet training. These potty training books include detailed plans to guide you and your little one from diapers to underwear. 

My top 3 favorites

Here are three of the best potty training books for parents:

  1. Oh Crap! Potty Training, by Jamie Glowacki
  2. The Complete Guide to Potty Training, by Michelle D. Swaney
  3. Potty Training in 3 Days, by Brandi Bucks

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but there are definitely some common themes across the best potty training books. Having these books really helped me gain confidence as a parent going through potty training for the first time.

Any of these three books would be a good choice for parents who want to start the potty training process with their child. Chances are, one of these titles is available at your local library, bookstore, or Amazon. 

While there are many potty training “methods,” there are really only two general systems floating around out there:

1. Rewards
2. Consistency and commitment

That’s it.

Jamie Glowacki, Oh Crap! Potty Training

If you’re the kind of parent who likes practical step-by-step instructions, invest in one of these books.

Here’s a little about each of these top potty training books to help you choose which is right for your family. Remember that one day it will be over. Then it will be on to teaching the next life skill!

There are many different potty training choices that you get to make as a parent. It’s wonderful to have that freedom, but it can be overwhelming to make these choices on your own.

Michelle D. Swaney, The Complete Guide to Potty Training
Book Review of Various Potty Training Methods and Manuals

Oh Crap! Potty Training, by Jamie Glowacki

Oh Crap! Potty Training is a “consistency and commitment” system (not a rewards-based system). We used Oh Crap! Potty Training after it came highly recommended by several parents in our area. It is consistently named by reviewers as one of the best potty training books for parents. It includes a nice mix of actionable steps, answers to common questions, and comforting encouragement.

Oh Crap! Potty Training is the best book for parents who want to be told exactly what to do when potty training their child.

Glowacki’s potty training method requires a lot of attention upfront for a better long-term result. The first few days will be intense, and you’ll still be busy for quite a while afterward. Jamie recommends clearing your social calendar for a week.

“Potty training is all you will be thinking about for at least a week or so.

Jamie Glowacki, Oh Crap! Potty Training

You’ve got the intense first day of the toilet training process where you ditch the diapers. You’ll be watching your kid around the house like a hawk all day. Be prepared to clean up messes, as no toddler clothes are involved (nothing to “catch” the accidents). It’s messy, but it works. This intense period is followed by going commando with pants on and eventually wearing underwear.

Your job today is to do nothing but watch your child. If this sounds unbearable, remember the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Still, I cannot stress this enough: TODAY YOU WILL DO NOTHING BUT WATCH YOUR CHILD!

Jamie Glowacki, Oh Crap! Potty Training

You’re not really asking if the child has to go to the potty; you’re more telling the kid that it’s time to put their pee and poo in the potty. You’ll have to get other caregivers on board with this adult-led approach or there will be regressions to deal with.

You’re also introduced to public washrooms pretty quickly. These can be terrifying for toddlers (they they are not the greatest for adults either). The potty book also includes great suggestions for handling toilet training once the at-home lockdown period is over.

This book might not be for you if you can’t get a few days off work in a row. If you don’t like reading books with a bit of a sassy tone, this might not be for you. But, it’s popular because it’s worked for a lot of parents.

We both know just how smart your child is. Doesn’t he deserve the dignity of not crapping in a diaper and still worse, sitting in it? Really think about that. Think about where your child is developmentally and just how undignified this is.

Jamie Glowacki, Oh Crap! Potty Training

Jamie also offers online courses for potty training and online potty training group coaching. Jamie has a Potty Training Youtube Channel if you like videos. Hear Jamie on a podcast about potty training here.

The Complete Guide to Potty Training - Book by Michelle Sweeney

The Complete Guide to Potty Training, by Michelle Swaney

The Complete Guide to Potty Training really does live up to its name. It includes detailed actionable steps while allowing parents the freedom to make potty-training choices in line with their values. Parents choose whether or not they’ll use rewards, train while wearing clothes, and a host of other decisions to customize the potty-training experience for your child. It’s filled with practical tips to suit your parenting style.

The Complete Guide to Potty Training is the best book for parents who obsessively research parenting topics to create the most effective learning experience.

This book will guide you through the decision-making process. Soon you’ll have your family’s answers to these potty training dichotomies:

Training Method: Naked or Garment

Supplies: Eco-Friendly or Ease-Minded

Motivation: Extrinsic or Intrinsic

When to Start: Born Ready or “Wait Until They’re Ready” …or Wait Until You’re Ready

Michelle D. Swaney, The Complete Guide to Potty Training

I really like this potty training book. It aims to turn parents into the “CEO of Pottying” in their household. We’re using it now and find it practical and actionable. It includes a 5-Step potty training plan and advice from experts and real parents.

Michelle helps you personalize potty training to your child, recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for everyone. It also respects the wisdom of previous generations and helps to weave that wisdom into modern-day potty training.

“I realized that the age-old wisdom of baby potty learning could be combined with modern-day methods. In fact, combining the two methods is the answer that so many potty training parents have been searching for.”

Michelle Swaney, The Complete Guide to Potty Training

The Complete Guide to Potty Training teaches you to empower your children. It uses case studies and sound reasoning to motivate and educate. Best of all, it gives step-by-step practical instructions to help you confidently and respectfully instruct your child.

“Let’s give our children the dignity of teaching them where it is socially acceptable to put that pee and poo. Even if you as the parent aren’t ready to get rid of diapers right away, please still do them the favor of teaching them where the pee and poo go.”

Michelle Swaney, The Complete Guide to Potty Training

This book includes a Potty Tracker Chart, which can be helpful for those who like extrinsic motivation. I especially like the Potty Training Checklist which can go on the fridge to track milestones.

Potty Training in 3 Days - Book Review

Potty Training in 3 Days, by Brandi Brucks

Potty Training in 3 Days is perhaps the most popular rewards-based method book. The main claim to fame is the title, which advertises the transition from diapers to underwear in 3 days. This book is also about half the length of the previous two potty training books, which some parents really like.

Potty Training in 3 Days is the best potty training manual book for parents who want a quick read so they can get started already!

Pick three days and commit. I usually tell my clients to pick a long weekend when you have no other plans or commitments. You will literally be stuck in the house for the next two or three days straight.

Brandi Brucks, Potty Training in 3 Days

The 3-Day Method focuses on children learning not to go pee in their pants. It’s light on some of the common problem subjects, such as putting poop in the potty and night-time potty training. But it’s an easy fast read, and you won’t have to buy a little training potty.

Finding the perfect reward is essential to your child’s success with potty training. As with most people, children are more motivated when the situation directly benefits them.

Brandi Brucks, Potty Training in 3 Days

Of course, all kids are different and all parents are different and it might take more than 3 days. There is no guarantee…but this book is popular because it’s worked for SO MANY families.

Helpful Potty Training Books for Moms

Other great potty training books for parents

I felt a lot better once I had a guide to go by. I wish I had read the books above before I thought my child was ready for potty training. It would have been so helpful to have my head in the game (and a game plan!) before I needed it.

Here are some other helpful potty training books for parents working on potty training with their children:

  1. Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day, by Teri Crane
  2. Ready, Set, Go!, by Sarah Ockwell-Smith
  3. Easy Peasy Potty Training, by Julie Schooler
  4. Stress-Free Potty Training, by Sara Au & Peter Stavinoha
  5. Potty Wise, by Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam
  6. The No-Cry Potty Training Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley
  7. Diaper-Free Before 3, by Jill Lekovic
The Potty Party Book - Potty Train in One Day

Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day, by Teri Crane

This is “The Potty Party Book.” If you’re into rewards and love going all out, this might be the best potty training book for you. The Potty Party is the most extravagant of all the rewards-based methods. If you’re short on time but love going all out when you do have the time… This book might be the one for you!

The One Day method centers around the Potty Party. This can be a ton of work for parents (not to mention quite expensive), but if you’re into it – go for it! Like all potty training methods, there’s no guarantee it will work in less than a day. But at least it’ll be a fun party!

This potty training book includes details on how to set up an “exciting, stimulating, and very rewarding” learning process. There are 12 very detailed “themes” for the potty party, ranging from a character theme to a farm theme to a red carpet theme. For each theme, there are specific instructions for decorations (party room and bathroom), drinks, activities, treats, toys, books, videos, presents, and prizes. Each theme also includes a shopping list.

Ready, Set, Go!, by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

Ready, Set, Go! is a potty training book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, the creator of Gentle Parenting. It aims to guide you and your child through learning to use the potty “without trauma, drama and tears.” This is a nice choice for parents who follow gentle parenting techniques.

Ready, Set, Go! relies on compassionate support and emotional intelligence instead of rewards or pressure tactics. This book is helpful for parents of independent children who love to learn through gentle parenting.

Easy Peasy Potty Training, by Julie Schooler

Easy Peasy Potty Training is a lighthearted book with a positive tone that helps you make your own potty training strategy based on your family’s personalities and schedules. It focuses on a simple 3-stage approach rather than giving detailed practical advice. This book contains all the information most parents need without extra distraction. Sometimes, having a step-by-step plan is best!

The cheerful, relaxed tone of the book is helpful for new parents who feel overwhelmed and need encouragement. Julie explains how even accidents progress as the child is making mental connections.

Easy Peasy Potty Training is an easy, quick read perfect for parents who want to learn the basics of potty training without having potty training totally take over their lives.

Stress Free Potty Training Book for Parents

Stress-Free Potty Training, by Sara Au & Peter Stavinoha

Stress-Free Potty Training is about finding the right approach for your individual child based on their personality and what motivates them. It purposely chooses not to give step-by-step instructions like most other books, focusing instead on personality characteristics, emotions, and behavior (both our toddlers and our own!).

“Our philosophy is that as parents we can manage and influence the training, but that children themselves control it.”

Sara Au & Peter Stavinoha, Stress-Free Potty Training

Stress-Free Potty training advocates for a tailored approach for each unique child based on psychology. This individualized plan is designed to minimize stress for the child. The book includes a quiz to help you learn about your child’s personality as it relates to potty training. It does give some advice, but much of it is common sense to many parents.

There’s a chapter devoted to Strong-Willed Children and another dedicated to Sensory-Oriented Children. There are some clever ideas in here. They explain why rewards work well for some children and become a problem for others. I also like how they explain how to re-frame the same reward from a disconnected treat into a natural consequence for learning to use the potty.

The book also includes a helpful table of “Ages of Attaining Toilet-Training Skills by Gender” (Page 26), which shows the reality of just how many steps your child can master.

Potty Wise - Toilet Training Instruction Manual

On Becoming Potty Wise for Toddlers

Potty Wise is described as “a developmental readiness approach to potty training.” This book is part of the Baby Wise series of parenting books. It includes helpful tips on using a potty training doll and on snack rewards for potty training toddlers.

Potty Wise includes instructions for the intense “progressive potty training,” usually accomplished in one to three days, all the way to “relaxed potty training,” usually accomplished in four to six months. There are many ways to customize the approach for your unique situation.

No-Cry Potty Solution Book - For Gentle Parenting

The No-Cry Potty Training Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley

The No-Cry Potty Training book is about “gentle ways to help your child say goodbye to diapers.” It advocates for a positive experience without any shame or embarrassment. This book focuses on a gentle approach.

“When you approach toilet training with knowledge, respect, patience, and a plan, it can be as normal and uncomplicated as teaching your child how to walk, talk, or use a spoon.”

Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Potty Training Solution

Elizabeth includes some tips on using rewards as part of potty training. The tips on making a Potty Prize Treasure Box is especially cute and would be fun for Pinterest-loving parents and DIY’ers.

Diaper-Free Before 3, by Jill Lekovic

Diaper-Free Before 3 is an evidence-based potty training book for parents written by a medical doctor. Dr. Lekovic certainly instills confidence in both parents and children that this whole potty training thing will be fine.

Toilet Training Books to Help You Teach Your Child to Use the Potty

The best potty training books for Moms & Dads

Whatever potty training book you choose for your family, remember it’s great to get your child interested in the potty and motivated to use it… With whatever help it takes. And when the going gets tough, just dream about walking right past the Costco-sized boxes of diapers without thinking about how you’re going to fit the giant box in your cart.

Also, check out my article about Sleep Music to help both you and your toddler get a good rest.

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a digital content creator and mom of three. She is also an engineer and bit of a plant nerd too. She has been featured by publications such as Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Homes & Gardens, and Family Handyman.