Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Potty Training Tips

Time to potty train?
There are dozens of places to turn for advice on potty training.  You can read books, browse parenting sites, or ask friends.  Chances are you will hear several different perspectives on the subject.  Everyone has their own method or a success story they just love to tell.

We all know the parent who swears their toddler was trained by eighteen months. This parent was never me.

I personally feel every parent needs to seek out what works best for them.  No toddler is alike.  The purpose of this post is to share what worked for me.  My methods may not work for everyone, but they had my last two munchkins rockin' the undies in less than a week.  And I can say with confidence my first potty training go-round was not that successful.

It was a long haul.  I remember day one of training my oldest.  We went through sixteen pairs of underwear.

Sixteen pairs. 

But with each of my kids the potty training process got easier.  There was less pee in their pants and more on the potty.  I learned from my mistakes and kept it simple.

From the beginning, I never used special dolls or pull ups.  I believe in the cold turkey, "here is your underpants" method. 

Some parents prefer to train early (age 2 or younger) and some prefer to wait until their toddler is older than three.  I personally have found that 2 1/2, plus or minus a month, is the golden age. I trained my first two munchkins just before two years old, solely because another baby was on the way.

I had no intention of changing diapers all day.  Nor could I afford diapers for two children at once.  But while I may have been ready, my first little guy was definitely not. 

 Tip #1:  Wait until your child can voice they need to use the bathroom.  They don't need to speak in complete sentences or know their multiplication tables.  "Mama, potty!" is all that is required.

My personal experience with training at or before two years old was not so pleasant.  My oldest didn't have the language to voice he even had to go potty.  I basically trained myself to take him to the bathroom thirty minutes after he drank a cup of juice.  And poops?  That was a complete nightmare.

My last two munchkins were trained around age 2 1/2.  This was a much more positive, less messy experience.

Tip #2:  If your toddler is waking up dry after a nap, this is a sure sign they can learn to use the potty.

Dry diapers for long stretches of time are key in determining "potty readiness." I would much rather change a diaper every few hours than run my toddler to the bathroom every ten minutes.

I learned this the hard way.  Remember that my oldest peed in sixteen pairs of underwear on day one.  He was like a running faucet.  And I was constantly running him to the bathroom.

Tip #3:  Talk about using the bathroom and how it works before you start to train.  They will understand more than you think they will.

When I decide to potty train, I plant the seed beforehand.  I told LLG (my third munchkin) he was going to learn to use the potty after Easter.  Easter was a month away at the time.  He didn't like this deadline, and initially he resisted the idea.  I persisted.  We discussed the bathroom.  We visited the bathroom.  I took him to buy underpants and we set them neatly in his drawer.

Before we knew it Easter was upon us, and I stayed true to my word.  One morning after Easter he woke up and I whipped out the underpants.

He had only three accidents that day.  He had one accident the next day.  After the second day, he never had an accident again.

Tip #4Don't create a power struggle.  Once the underpants are on, they are on to stay.  Diapers and pull ups are for naps and bedtime.  If you are worried about an accident in public, put a pair of underwear on and put a diaper over top.

Once those Diego undies are washed and in place, there is no turning back.  I never say die.  I suffer through accident after accident.  I stay home and we learn the potty.  Potty training is MUCH harder on us than it is on them.  Our freedom disappears until the training process is over.

If I have to go anywhere, I take short trips.  I keep the toddler potty in the trunk of my car and we use it before going into a store.

The underwear never disappears.  I always felt that if I allowed my munchkin to go back to a diaper, he or she would discover that a resistance to the potty will bring back the almighty diaper.  

I start with a small potty, the kind that goes on the floor in the bathroom.  My kids were always terribly afraid of that porcelain throne that sucks water down fast and ferociously.  My kids found the small, personal toilets less threatening. 

Training in my house begins in the morning.  I feed them juice.  And water.  And milk.  And when they are walking like they've been riding a horse for six hours I run them to their potty.

Usually the first pee is on the floor.  And the next is in their pants.  And then they pee the floor again.  Eventually, they pee in the potty.  And after one pee in the potty, the whole idea of using the toilet is not scary anymore.

Tip #5:  Be consistent.  Be patient.  Accidents will happen.  Clean them up and move on.

After three days, I have always seen that "Oprah ah ha" moment in my munchkin.  They start to get it.  The accidents suddenly lessen and the laundry pile is less damp.

And I can see the light at the end of tunnel.

Until of course, they need to go #2.  And then you are on your own.  I recommend many books and allowing them to poop in that diaper at bedtime if need be.  Little tummies can get very uncomfortable if they are holding their poops.  And just like with the pee, they will get one on that potty.  And once they do, it will not seem so scary anymore.

Happy Training!


  1. My experience is exactly the same. Our Oldest Boy was a nightmare! AND it took forever! 2 and 3 were easy as pie (#2 literally trained himself - woke up one day and said, "I'm going to use the potty" and never looked back.).

    And now I'm on our 4th - and last - potty trainer. {SIGH} It's not going so well mainly because we are NEVER home. And it's not by choice as I'm the school bus around here and spend over two hours a day carting kids to and fro - not counting extra-curricular activities. She did use the potty last night for the first time voluntarily so there's a light at the end of the tunnel. It's just very, very dim...

    1. Oh I hear ya! being on the go makes training very hard! Good luck!!

  2. Great tips Jodie! I am starting to think about this soon with Grant and I am NOT looking forward to it.


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