Potty training can be one of the most stressful parenting adventures when your child is young. It is the great transition from diapers to underwear with some hiccups in between. Everyone’s adventure is different, some easier than others, but we all have the same goal in mind to have our child potty trained!
I want to start by saying we did not potty train in 3 days, we did not potty train in one week. I have worked in early childhood for 6 years and I have seen this “method” work for some toddlers (usually a lot older than Baby T is), but I do not think it is a realistic goal for most families.
How to Know if Your Child is Ready to Potty Train
The easiest way to know if your child is ready for potty training is if they are interested in the potty. Any interest in the potty is reason enough to start the journey. It is always easier to help a child do something they are excited about versus something you are forcing them to do. Around 18 months is when a child’s body is usually capable of potty training. This means their body has learned to hold pee or poop for certain periods of time. A sign of this is if your child has a dry diaper for an extensive amount of time. If they wake up from their nap and their diaper is still dry then their bodies are able to learn to go on the potty.
The “Method” We Used
- Straight to underwear, no pull ups or diaper (except for when in bed).
- Set a timer to alarm every 20-30 minutes.
- Go to the bathroom every time the alarm goes off.
- Positive reinforcement every time child goes on the potty. Clapping, cheering any/all kind of excitement.
- Child helps clean up any accidents and they are not scolded for it at all.
Our Potty Training Journey
I knew before starting to potty train there were a couple things I wanted to stick to. I always wanted the bathroom/potty to be a positive experience. Positive reinforcement is so important when it comes to potty training and that was my number one goal going into this. I did not want it to become a battle or me forcing my crying daughter to sit on the potty. Also, I didn’t want to provide a potty chart with stickers or treats as rewards. I really wanted Baby T to go potty because she wanted to and not for any other reason.
Though we didn’t start potty training Baby T at 12 months, that was her first experience with the potty. We had a mini potty in our restroom and she would sit on it while we (her dad or I) went to the bathroom. She was very interested in what we were doing and I wanted to take advantage of that excitement in case it went away. It didn’t take her long to pee on her potty and at about 13 months she was pooping on her potty as well. Whenever she asked to go to the potty I would put her on it even though I don’t think she really understood it yet. This went on for a couple of months. I call them the “exploration months”.
We created a habit where she would sit on the potty when she first woke up and before going to bed. During these exploration months I did not pressure her to use the bathroom, but I would ask her if she wanted to and sometimes she would mention it on her own. I cheered every time she did something on the potty and the bathroom was a positive area. I think that this early understanding of the potty really helped us later on.
We set a personal goal that at 18 months we would officially start seriously potty training. Like with practically every other transition, Baby T made the decision to start potty training before I did. One day she woke up (17 months old) and decided she didn’t want to wear diapers anymore. She took advantage of any chance she could to remove her diaper. After she had removed her diaper multiple times over a couple of days, we went to the store and bought underwear!
The Official Beginning of Potty Training
Potty training officially started. In the beginning, it was far more effort from me then it was from Baby T. We had a small potty chair and a seat cover, Baby T had the option of which one she would like to use each time. This gave her the freedom of choice when it came to the potty. I started by setting a “potty timer” that would go off every 15-30 minutes depending on when she was eating and drinking. If she didn’t use the potty while she was on it and told me she was all done I would reset the timer for 5 minutes to try again.
The bathroom also became a “potty” only location. If she went into the bathroom I assumed that meant she needed to use the potty. During the first week she was in underwear fully at home and would wear a diaper when we went out in public. She had a few accidents, but along with every accident came a learning/teach opportunity. She would help me clean up her accidents, put her dirty clothes in the laundry and we would talk about pee/poop belonging in the potty.
Week two started and her pee accidents began to lessen, but this is when her poop accidents began to start. This was probably the worst week of potty training. I can handle pee but poop is pretty gross. Baby T would go hide when she needed to poop instead of going on the potty. I began to give her alone time on the potty because it was obvious that she liked to poop in private. Week three went much smoother and I began taking her out in public in her underwear. She still has yet to have an accident in public which is amazing. When in public we always use the bathroom at least once ever hour. By week four we were done using the timer and the poop accidents had fully stopped!
Baby T is now 20 months old and I would consider her “fully” potty trained. She still wears a diaper during her nap and at night, but during all of her awake time she is in underwear. Accidents still happen occasionally but they are few and far between. We are still reminding her to use the restroom and helping her along the way.
My 10 Best Tips for Potty Training
- Make the bathroom/potty a fun positive area. Read them a book on the potty or sing them songs.
- Provide your toddler with choices. A lot of toddlers want to be more independent around the same time that potty training begins (18-36 months). Allow them to make decisions by providing two appropriate choices.
- Create a routine. Go potty after every meal or go potty after every nap.
- Be consistent! Once you create that routine be consistent and stick to it. If you want to give a sticker for every time they poop on the potty, be consistent!
- Pick a timer sound and stick to it! Your child will learn that sound and will know that every time that sound happens, its potty time.
- A potty chair is not always necessary. Some children do really well with just a toilet seat cover.
- Mini urinals are a game changer for moms’ of boys. It helps teach boys how to aim while peeing standing up.
- Let your child watch you use the restroom. This is not always a fun experience, but it shows them exactly how the process is done.
- Have your child help clean up any and all accidents.
- Biggest tip: be patient! Every child is different and goes at their own pace. Potty training takes time, but it will happen!
Our favorite potty books!
What was the hardest part about potty training in your house?