My Potty Training Experiences

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I recently potty trained my daughter, Caroline – right before she turned two years old. And prior to this, I trained my son, Peter, back in January, which happened to be right after his third birthday. Although I definitely don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, several people have asked about my experiences, which I’m happy to share!  Let me know if you have questions about what I wrote below or any one-offs as well.

First, I’ll share the method I used. Then, I’ll explain why I potty trained my kids at different ages. And lastly, I’ll share my tips for success!

THE METHOD I USED

For the most part, I went with the 3 Day Potty Training method. It seemed to make the most sense to me when I was researching how to potty train Peter and I liked that it was an intense three days to kick off the process. A friend of mine sent me the abbreviated PDF file, so I didn’t read the full book.

With this method, it is recommended to load your child up with liquids, so they get the hang of peeing on a potty quicker with more chances in a day. That sounds logical, but I decided to skip that part of the methodology and I still found it to work. I let my kids drink what they normally, and this allowed me to understand how often they needed to go on a regular basis. Then I could also start predicting when they might need to go. This was particularly helpful when we were out in public, because I knew when we needed to have a toilet close by. Or if I needed to tell a sitter/teacher, when to give my child an opportunity to go.

I also used Oh Crap Potty Training YouTube videos to supplement what I read. I found these especially helpful when I was training Peter and ran into one-off problems (such as ‘poop withholding’). I really like how Jamie explains the scenarios and gives you a solution to try.

WHY I TRAINED PETER AT 3 AND CAROLINE AT 2

Truthfully, Peter was showing me signs at 2.5 years, but I wasn’t quite ready. We had a lot going on at the time and I wanted to wait until I could fully give it my 100% and didn’t have any trips/long plane rides coming up where I knew I’d struggle with getting Peter to go the potty while holding on to Caroline at the same time. Once I got all my ducks in a row and found a nice window from scheduled activities (winter break), I started immediately. Thankfully, for the most part he got it down in a week and I was able to take him on small outings or to short drop-off classes the following week. To set your expectations, it probably was about 3-4 weeks until I felt like I could rely on Peter and trust that he would go when he needed to. I’m not sure if it is a boy thing, but he was/still is the king of not wanting to leave his toys to use the potty. One nice thing about waiting until 3 with Peter, is that by then Peter would always wake up dry during the night and naps, so I knew he could make it through the night without a potty break. He never wore a pull-up at night and I never had to go through night training.

When it came to Caroline, I had a very different and easier experience. For one, she is the second child and watched Peter go through the process. Also, I’ll say I’m probably a lot more chill going through it for the second time. Caroline has been using the potty daily (but not consistently) ever since we potty trained Peter in January of this year. She was only 16 months at the time and would pee too often in the day that I didn’t want to move her to underwear at that point. Potty training both of them at the same time would have been too much to take on. So I waited until late this summer after her summer camp was over and gave us enough time to get it done before preschool starts up this September.

MY GENERAL TIPS

  • Be prepared
    • Have lots of underwear for daytime (when you get to that stage) and pull-ups for nighttime (if needed).
      • Sometimes boys love to wear underwear just like their daddies, so see if that is an option. It worked for Peter and got him very excited about the concept of being a big boy and wearing underwear just like dad.
    • Have potties all over the house – I have a portable BabyBjörn potty chair and also a few BabyBjörn potty seat covers.
    • Perhaps, have a new treat or reward handy that will motivate your child in addition to lots of praise (i.e. stickers, chocolate, mini toys, etc)
      • Just think through what your reward is and make sure you can bring that in your bag for public outings.
      • Caroline has a little sweet tooth, so 1 crispy M&M did the trick.
      • Peter didn’t care for chocolate at the time, so I would let him see a picture or very short video of a truck on my phone.
    • Clear your schedule for at least 3 full days and keep it light for the first week.
      • Even making dinner can be tough in those first days while you are watching your little one to make sure they don’t have an accident. You will probably feel like a hovering mom.
    • Don’t forget to bring increased patience! It can feel like a never-ending process, but I promise you it will get better.
  • In the beginning, do not ask “do you need to go the potty?” instead just put them on the potty every once in a while and tell them “it is potty time.” If they don’t go, that is totally fine and let them get off after a couple minutes. Otherwise, you might here a lot of no’s.
  • Make it convenient for your child to go by having potties all over the house and in close proximity to where your child is playing or eating, etc.
    • I found that with Peter, there was a few days where he would want to sit on the potty for hours since he was afraid to have an accident. So, I set up a monitored activity (i.e. play doh or coloring) and put his portable seat right next to us. That way he could draw a little bit, and then sit down if he thought the pee was coming, and jump right back up to color more. He would do this several times until he started to understand his body better and know when the pee was actually coming.
  • At some point, you may feel like giving in and just putting a diaper/pull up back on to run an errand or drop your kid in a gym daycare etc, but try your best to stick with it!
    • If you put your tot back into the security of pull-ups, they might pee in their underwear next time, since it is hard to know what you are wearing when you are that young.
  • When going on outings, do your best to give your child an opportunity to go right before you get in the car and when you get to your destination. If you are at the destination for at least an hour, definitely give your child an opportunity to go again before you get into the car.
    • For the carseat, I bought a protective pad just for my sanity. Peter never had an accident in the carseat and Caroline hasn’t had one yet. You could also use that same pad in a stroller for a long walk.
  • If you need your child to go potty quickly (i.e. you need to leave the house), you can try making it a competition. I used to do this with Peter… “who is going to go first – me or you?!” And then he’d get all excited and say he could do it before me. Same thing works with Caroline and Peter now, when I want both of them to go quickly.
  • Lastly, nighttime routine might feel endless if your little one keeps asking to get out of bed to use the potty. This is especially hard at the end of a long day and it can seem like your nighttime routine is screwed up forever, but you will get it back! Both of my kids did this for the first couple weeks, and it can be exhausting to keep taking them to the potty before they realize they don’t have any more to go or you somehow convince them to go to sleep. I’ll say, it is quite an effective tool on their part to stretch out bedtime routine. At times I wanted to tell them no more potty trips before bed, but then I didn’t want to discourage potty usage. Also, 90% of the time when the kids would ask to go… they could magically squeeze a little more out of them, every time!

Hope this helps!

xo,

Marina

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