Step 1: Take off the diaper, and leave it off. I suspect that this may be the most common problem parents and caregivers face in initiating and progressing to successful potty training--They're afraid to take off the diaper.
Wouldn't it be easier if the child remained in the diaper and learned to verbally announce the need to use the toilet? Unfortunately, in order for this approach to work, the child must be old enough to verbally announce the need. That means three or more years old. Who wants to wait that long? Not you or the child.
I've witnessed the "potty training,"--but let's call it "potty learning"-- of three children who were all potty trained by twenty-four months of age. It went like this.
Step 1: Child 1: My First Child
I took off her diaper, and left it off, when she was eight months old. You heard that correctly--eight months old. I never diapered her again. She had begun to strongly resist diapering and I had read about infant potty training with a cue sound and a potty bowl, so I gave it a try.
I began to give her a cue sound, "ssss," or a grunt, depending, and to hold her over a potty bowl, potty, the toilet, the sink, the grass in the backyard, . . . Anyway, whenever I thought she might need to go--and I began to notice a pattern--I would make the sound and offer the "potty opportunity."
I put her in training pants when we went out and she slept on a sheepskin and flat cloth diaper at night, but she wore no diapers.
Over the following months, I cleaned the carpet a lot. By eighteen months, she used the potty on her own. By twenty-four months, she was "perfectly potty trained."
Step 2: Child 2: My Niece
I began to provide day care for my twenty-four-month-old diaper-wearing and completely "potty clueless" niece. I did not desire to change diapers. I took off her diaper and set up two potties next to one another, one for her and one for my daughter to use for demonstration. One demo from her younger-than-her cousin and that was it. She preferred the potty to the diaper and my brother thought I had worked a miracle. He had been waiting, in vain, for her to announce her need to use the toilet.
Step 3: Child 3: My Second Child
I never diapered her, ever. She remained as bare as the day she was born. Within her first week of life, she responded to my cue sounds and potty offers. By ten months, she used the potty on her own. By eighteen months, she was nearly "perfectly potty trained." Like her sister before her, by twenty-four months, she was perfect and everyone thought I had a potty prodigy.
Step 4: Summary
So there you go. Take off the diaper and witness the potty learning. You may throw in some cue sounds, hand signs, potty offers, demonstrations, or other methods, but I recommend patience and a mantra: We all eventually learn to use the toilet and we do so under our own motivation.