Why is my baby going back to diapers after potty training?

By Lynn •  Updated: 08/01/21 •  6 min read
Hey Mamas and Papas! This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

It took us one year to successfully potty train our daughter. Shocking right? We started potty training her at 2 years-though we bought the potty much earlier. We would use all the tricks in the book to potty train her for a week then after 2 or 3 weeks, we would be back to zero. My daughter kept going back to diapers after potty training successfully until we nearly gave up.

So, I started researching what was causing her to regress. Actually, in the course of my research, I learnt that this type of behavior is called Potty Training Regression and it is not unusual. I also learnt about what causes potty training regression in toddlers and how to deal with and overcome it. Several things were causing my daughter to regress and when I was able to identify them, we finally managed to successfully potty train her just before she turned 3 years.

So I will use my experience with potty training regression to help you understand why your toddler keeps getting those accidents despite all your efforts to train her to use the potty. Hopefully, you will find this article helpful.

Reasons why toddlers keep going back to diapers after potty training

Often times you will hear a parent say, lately my daughter or son has been refusing to use a potty for no reason. Well, I believe there is no way a child can suddenly stop doing something she or he has learnt over a period of time for no reason. There is always a reason.

There are several reasons why children regress during potty training. According to *, major life changes are usually the main cause of regression.

Some of these major life changes include:

  • A new baby
  • Divorce
  • Starting daycare
  • Change of nanny
  • Moving to a new location
  • Major illness
  • Loss of a loved one

These major life changes, even happy ones like the arrival of a new baby sister or brother, tend to affect a child in a number of ways.

So, what caused my daughter to keep going on and off diapers?

Things that caused my daughter to experience potty training regression

Based on the major life changes I have mentioned above, I can easily identify 3 reasons; arrival of a new baby, change of nanny, and loss of a loved one.

  • The arrival of a new baby

Well, I wanted to space out my children by 5 years or so, but things happened. My son decided to land on this earth when my daughter was 2.5 years.

We had already started training her to use the potty 5 months before her brother was born. But after he was born, my daughter started getting accidents every now and then. I attributed this to not giving her enough attention, so peeing or pooping on herself was a way to attract my attention. You know being a second-time mom is not easy as a first-time mom since now you have two little human beings to give attention to. Giving my daughter extra attention seemed to work quite well.

  • Change of nanny

I came to understand that change can cause stress in a child and affect their development. Since my daughter was born, I have changed nannies several times. Getting a good one these days is a hustle.

When she started potty training, I changed nannies twice and I believe this contributed to her regression. This is because getting used to a new face when she had already gotten used to another person was definitely not easy for her. Since at times changing nannies is inevitable, I decided to be potty training her myself rather than letting the nanny do it. That way, if I let one nanny go, we did not have a problem with using the potty.

  • Loss of a loved one

The third reason I strongly attribute to my daughter’s potty training regression is the loss of a loved one. We lost my father in law just a few weeks after my son was born. Despite having spent a short time with him, they had bonded quite well. She grew so fond of him and she would talk about him all the time. The gifts, the goodies, all came from him.

Sadly, we lost him to cancer when my daughter was just 2.5 years. I believe that although she might not have understood where grandpa had gone to, she definitely felt the void he left behind. The stress of losing a person close to her coupled with the arrival of a new baby was definitely not easy.

How to handle your baby going back to diapers after potty training

  • Exercise patience

You need a lot of patience when potty training your child. Remember that patience you had when training them to walk, you need to exercise the same during training. It is usually not easy, but persistence and being consistent will get you through.

  • Remind them to go at intervals

Children tend to get too much engaged in play activities that they forget everything else. Often times they will not want to leave a game halfway to go to the toilet, so you need to remind them. Just as you remind them to eat or drink, you also need to keep reminding them to use the potty. Master the intervals at which they say they want to go and start reminding them. This will ensure that there will be no time for accidents.

  • Give enough support

During potty training, children are likely to have accidents now and then. As disappointing as it may be, you need to show them support.  Do not overreact or show how disappointed you are as this will increase their fear and get them deeper into regression. Scolding and shouting at them will also do you no good.

  • Reward good progress

When she successfully used the potty, we cheered her on, clapped and told her that she was a very good girl. This motivated her to keep using the potty until she got used to it. We even rewarded her with surprise gifts and clearly told her that it was a reward for being a good girl and accepting to potty for a week or so without soiling herself. You can also use simple things that they love like a sticker and give them every day they go without having an accident.

Watch this video for more details on how to deal potty training regression.

Final Remarks

Potty training regression is actually very common so you should not beat yourself over it. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics Guide to Toilet Training, it is normal for toddlers to regress not only in potty training but also in other learning areas. For instance, a child who has successfully learnt to feed herself may regress and start demanding to be fed.

Therefore, you need to exercise patience and just chill. Personally, I always told myself, “It is okay as long as she will not reach 18 years while still using a potty”. Yes, there is a time for everything.


Lynn is a freelance writer, a wife, and a mother of two beautiful kids. Lynn started Infant Empire with the aim of making parenting easier for fellow mums and dads. She believes the parenting tips provided here will be of great help to all parents.