Ahh, kids and potty training. Errrr, I mean toddlers and potty training. What a joy. I mean, saying good-bye to the diapers truly is! As daunting as it sounds, it's not as bad as you think.
So, I've been through this twice now. Once with my son Parker right before he was 2.5 years old, and now with my daughter Charlotte who just turned 2 last week. And I ran into different challenges with each, so I feel comfortable sharing my experience with you so hopefully you can learn from my experiences. I've had a handful of momma's reaching out and asking me for tips via Instagram, so I figured I'd share here as I am just going through it again for the second time and it's all fresh in my mind.
With Parker, we went through the process between 2 and 2.5 years old. It actually felt early to me at the time, but something had me wanting to go for trying it anyway. First of all, your first born may be different. And each child is oh-so-different, but in my experience, girls and a second, third, or fourth born child are sometimes ready earlier than boys or a first born child.
So here are my tips. Buy a little potty seat for the floor, and keep it around, whether in the bathroom or where they play, just so they can get aquatinted to it before you start the actual potty training. You may think you want to do a seat on top of the potty. This is a personal decision. For us, the potty on the floor was less scary and was a really easy way to get my son Parker to use it on his own without my help, which he has been doing now for over a year. Eventually you might want to get the seat for on top of the potty with a stool too (we have those too). So introduce the floor potty by keeping it out. It may be around your home for a few months before you feel ready to go through what I call the "True Potty Training Weekend." I recommend trying to sit your little one on the potty, talking about it with them and even letting them be around when the mother uses the 'potty' so they get used to the concept (as weird as that sounds writing out).
You may experience some resilience with the potty at some point. If you believe your little one is at the right time and age for potty training, here is what worked for us!
Both of my kids were using the potty here and there before we went through our "True Potty Training Weekend." (this is the term I've coined just now based on the article my followers asked for). With Parker, we got to a point where he REALLY did not want to use it at all. On the other hand, Charlotte started early before the age of two, wanting to do what her big brother did and we eventually just started sitting her on the little potty seat when we figured she would normally go. At a certain point, she also became disinterested and regressed in how often she would let us do this.
First and foremost, there is never a "good" time. Don't wait for the perfect moment. Secondly, if you're seeing regression in interest in the potty, this was actually a big hint for us that we were ready for our "True Potty Training Weekend."
So here comes my true "True Potty Training Weekend" tips & tricks *that worked for us* (yes, every little one is different). .
I used the guidelines of the "Oh Crap Potty Training" Method by Jamie Glowacki as my general focus. No, I did not read the book. I read a few other tips from other mom blogs that I googled at the time I first went through it with Parker. I used what I gathered from those tips combined with others I also found online and just went with it. Now I'm sharing what I've gathered here.
- Buy a potty floor seat. This is less intimidating and easier for a little person to access without your help eventually, which is honestly the goal here.
- Pick a weekend that you don't have much going on.. because the golden rule that you really really really need to not break is that you cannot leave your house for one full weekend or have any distractions for the parent/guardian on duty or the child going through the process.
- Yes, that's right. Camp out at home for two full days.
- Put the potty in the room that you hang out the most in. Preferably in a friendly place that encourages them to be (for us this was near the TV.. yep).
- Set aside silly rules about screen time for these two days and let the child do what makes them happy that weekend. If putting on a TV show or movie is that, let them 'potty & chill.' (Although, the younger they are, the less likely they will do this, for us it was a little R&R and a lot of running around and playing. Also, how hilarious is the term 'potty & chill?' I'm quite impressed by my humor in making this term up just now). Also feel free to let them go about their normal day at home. You on the other hand need to do your best to just focus on them.
- Take away all distractions from the parents or guardian! Yes, put down your phone. Do not aimlessly scroll or decide this is the perfect time to iron all of your shirts. I promise you, as soon as you start doing something, this is when the accidents happen.
- *This is the most important step.* For the entire two days you are camping out at home, without guests, without distractions and with consistent potty potty potty, keep your child warm but no pants and no diaper. Yes, that's right. You have a resilient child that doesn't want to use the potty? Great. Even better! Take away the diaper. The concept here is that this gives them no choice but to figure out that the potty is best. You have a child that cries for the diaper? Even goes and gets one for you? Hide them. (Luckily we didn't have to do this, but I've had friends who said this was their issue). In most cases, your little one will go about their day as if they have their pants on and be a happy little clam.
- Put a garbage bag on your couch, and then a beach towel on top of it for the R&R side of it. This is all we really need to do to be prepared, for a 'just in case.'
- Try to stay away from using treats as a reward. Little ones are smart. They will come to expect a reward. In all honesty though, for Parker, a sticker chart with a little star every time he went potty worked for him to help persuade him into the idea that "this is fun" (and also was great to figure out how often he needed to go). For Charlotte, we allowed a tiny mini marshmallow, baking chocolate chip or single M&M for the times before we started this "True Potty Training Weekend" when she became resilient about going. (as a disclaimer, otherwise, I personally don't do candy with toddlers. So this was definitely a special treat).
- Make a big deal about going potty. Give them the works with big smiles, "yay's!!!" and clapping. Make them really feel special and like they've done something awesome. Positive reinforcement is everything.
- This tip is for the ones that are being resilient. I was the one who was encouraging Parker to use the potty at home before we started the "True Potty Training Weekend." He used it a little bit before we did our weekend, but then really got upset about it, which is when I knew we had to try something different. (Hence the "True Potty Training Weekend"). What also worked for us, is that Jeff, my hubby, was the primary person who did the Potty with Parker on the first full day at home. He whispered in his ear "let me know if you have need to go potty" and made it a special boys thing. He also sat him down on the potty in his clothes the day we started to get him reacquainted and comfortable with the potty, another tip I recommend. The takeaway from this is that, if you have a little one who is being resilient about using the potty, try to see if another family member or friend can take the lead in getting them to go through their first full day of using the potty/no pants/no diaper day. Sometimes a new face telling them that this is what's happening is all they need.
- The first day at home for the "True Potty Training Weekend" take them potty every 20-30 minutes.
- The first day at home for the "True Potty Training Weekend," for at least the first half of the day, do NOT ask them if they need to go potty.. TELL them that they have to go potty and take them. I mean, literally pick them up and sit them on the potty. For Charlotte, she picked up on knowing when she needed to go quickly, and on the first day was going on her own when she needed to go by mid-day. She also had months of practice before going through the "True Potty Training Weekend" at home. For first timers, assume they don't know their potty timing yet. You know it better than them!
- There will be accidents. Don't get upset with them, just sit them down on the potty after the accident even if they don't have to go and show them that's where they need to go potty. As soon as the accident happens, take them to the potty. This helps to reinforce that the we use the potty for going to the bathroom and not the floor.
- Here's a tip that you will not want to forget. If your little one wonders off and is silent, they are likely going potty in your house somewhere. Monitor wisely!
- Keep the potty in the room they are familiar with for a few days or even a week. This will help to encourage them to understand their own potty habits and to go by themselves.
Guidelines that worked for us after going through the "True Potty Training Weekend."
- I recommend still taking your little one to the potty every 30 minutes to an hour for the weeks following. Just assume that they might be too busy playing or having too much fun to realize they might have to go potty. And also assume that you know better than they do.
- When potty training, I always take them to the potty before they eat and directly after eating. Yes, this seems overboard, but I strongly would recommend doing this. Sitting down for long periods of times may emulate a time they would have gone when in diapers. And food tends to get things moving, so after they eat is also a great time to try. If they fight you on it, you don't have to force it, but at least try.
- Always have them go potty before you leave the house and as soon as you get to your destination. This is especially important if your little one isn't clicking with it as much. Charlotte has gotten it down pretty well, so you know your own little one and what makes sense. I use these guidelines to help keep your day accident free.
- Feel free to put a garbage bag under their bottom in the carseat. I haven't done this, but when we start traveling further I probably will. No one needs to disassemble a carseat and wash it when they aren't planning on it.
- You may want to go pant-less at home for a while. We did this for 2-3 weeks with Parker. Sometimes pants and underwear make them feel like they are wearing a diaper again. This is totally up to the progress of the child. I felt much more comfortable going through this a second time with Charlotte and I put her in pants and underwear on day three. We even went out and about and went to the Library for story time.
- You may want to not go on as many errands when you go through this method for a little while. Once the diaper is off and you go through this weekend, I would strongly encourage you to keep it off for all times other than naps and sleep. (unless you have a long car ride and you want to use a pull-up).
- Keep them in diapers for naps and nighttime if they are young and you don't want to wake them in the night. I am doing this now with Charlotte and did this for a while with Parker. It was easier for us to get the gist of going potty on our own during the day time. Take them potty before they nap and before they go to bed and also as soon as they wake up to encourage using the potty and not the diaper though. Eventually, I stopped using pull-up's with Parker at nap time when his diapers were consistently dry and I felt we were ready (around age 3 or just before). We honestly just recently stopped using pull-ups at night. I waited until I felt he was ready to go potty by himself in the middle of the night in his own bathroom, which requires climbing up on the stool and sitting himself down on the real potty. I also made sure his pull-up's were consistently dry too. There is really no need to push for potty training night time and nap time (*in my opinion*), unless for some reason you feel it's necessary. Again, this is a personal decision for each individual family.
- If you do go through taking the pull-ups or diapers away at night, get two waterproof mattress pads and two sheets. Put one waterproof mattress pad on and a sheet, and then another waterproof pad on and another sheet. Also keep an extra blanket in the room. This will really help with speeding up the amount of time everyone is awake if there is an accident in the middle of the night.
- Following the "True Potty Training Weekend," it is common for momma's to put their toddlers in pants again but not underwear for 2-3 weeks. Undies can feel like diapers to some. We did this the first time we went through potty training.
- Finally, when you move your potty seat back in to the bathroom, let your little one be a part of dumping the pee into the potty. Help them as needed, so you don't end up with a puddle of pee on the floor. But this helps to make them more self sufficient. Soon enough your little one will be doing it all by themselves and this will all be in the past.
I hope my tips & tricks help you! I'd like to hear about it if they do! Feel free to comment below, or tag me in your IG Stories @Kgrabner!!
Good luck Momma's!! You go this!