What’s With Potty Training Regression???

Last Updated on March 14, 2022 by Michele Tripple

This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy we may make a commission, at no additional charge to you. Please see our disclosure for more details.

Is your toddler all potty trained but is now having accidents often? What is happening? Potty training regression is common and we are here to help. Learn what regression is and how you can help your toddler conquer this setback. 

Potty training regression

Yay! You did it! Your toddler is finally completely potty trained. It was no easy task for the both of you. I bet there were lots of meltdowns from both you and your toddler.

Welcome to the world of going everywhere without diapers and extra clothes. It feels so great to not have to worry about whether or not your toddler will have an accident in public. You are a new mom! In fact, you might be thinking about ditching the diaper bag soon too!

But wait! 

After a few weeks or a couple of months, your toddler starts having accidents again. And often. What is going on? You already threw all the diapers away?

Why potty training regression?

Potty training regression happens to many toddlers. It is common. Usually, it is caused by stress.

There are many new things happening in your toddler’s life that it can be hard to pinpoint the exact reason for regression. Or it may be a few small, new things that cause regression.

It can be so frustrating going back to cleaning up accidents. Or planning your day knowing accidents can happen at any moment while at the store. But with a positive attitude, you can help your toddler get back on the potty-trained wagon.

What Is Potty Training Regression?

Regression is when your toddler is completely potty trained but then they start having accidents often. It can also be when toddlers refuse to use the toilet all of a sudden.

This is normal and should be seen as a simple setback. I say a setback because it won’t be permanent. Get to the root of the sudden change in potty behavior and things will get back to normal.

Sometimes a toddler is simply not ready to be potty trained. We think once a skill is learned it should be used. 

Toddlers’ development does not work the same. They learn new skills but don’t always use the skills they learn over and over again.

It takes time for toddlers to develop the mental capability that goes along with their physical capability.

Why Does Potty Regression Happen?


These accidents can be for attention. They were praised every time they went to the bathroom.

Now it’s part of everyday life and it’s less exciting. They can miss that attention as you focus on other things.


Some toddlers are simply too distracted. They do not want to stop playing with their favorite toy. Or they are waiting until the very last second before heading into the bathroom.


Most often, potty training regression is stress-related. There are so many new and different things that can happen in a toddler’s life, both big and small:

  • New sibling
  • New preschool
  • Moving
  • Routine changes
  • Marital conflict
  • Traumatic event
  • Unpleasant toilet experience 

We have all gone through the two-year-old stage with this same toddler. We know that anything can cause a meltdown, like making them a sandwich when they asked for a sandwich. 

Anything new or different can cause them stress. These same things may not be a big deal to us but man they are a big deal to them. Trying to understand from their perspective will better help you help them.

Steps to overcome potty training regression

Back to the basics

Go back to the potty training basics. Try to avoid going back to diapers or training pants.


Give reminders to use the bathroom often. This puts the focus back on the toddler and the job they are doing. Go back to those consistent schedules for potty time.


Give praise, not punishments. Positive reinforcement does more good than negative punishments. Remind your toddler that they can do it.

Point out the things they are good at. Like washing their hands on their own or putting toys away like a big boy/girl. Give attention to their positive behaviors.

Sticker Chart 

Use a potty training sticker chart if you have to. Use blue dye and bubbles. Get those special potty training books back out and sing those silly songs. Make it just as fun as before.

Increase in love

Show them lots of extra love and attention. Let them know they are more important to you than the accidents they are having.

How Long Will It Last?

Every toddler’s development is different so he time it takes for them to get back on track will vary.

Usually, potty training regression doesn’t last long, a few days or weeks. There is no set timeline. Once a toddler is comfortable again they will resume being potty trained as normal.

When to be concerned?

If your toddler experiences pain while using the toilet they may have a medical issue.

Urinary Tract Infections can make it hard for toddlers to know when they need to use the toilet. They may feel like they have to go to the bathroom when they don’t. Their potty signals get all mixed up if they are experiencing an infection.

Constipation can be painful so they avoid going to the bathroom. This can only make constipation worse.

Type 1 Diabetes can increase the number of times your toddler has to pee. This might be hard for your toddler to always make it to the bathroom.

Poop Anxiety can be a real problem for some toddlers. Adding more fiber can help get things moving so pooping is easier. 

Definitely talk with your pediatrician as soon as possible if you feel that your toddler may be experiencing a medical issue. Always better to ask than wait. 

You Can Do It, And So Can They!

While the set-back of potty training regression can be frustrating, it is common. Finding the reason why the change in potty behavior happened will help you and your toddler.

Go back to what worked to potty train your toddler in the first place. It will remind them of the independence they have when using the toilet. They will want to get back to normal. 

Stay positive and your toddler will be back on track soon. Love them through the accidents and show them they are important to you.

Ready to Potty Train? Check out all these Potty Training Posts to help!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.