The infamous potty training –
let me go ahead right off the bat and inform you that YOU CAN DO THIS!
And guess what? SO CAN YOUR LITTLE ONE!
Before we get started, the most important part
- You have to give yourself (and your little one) so much grace!! If this is your first kid, you’re learning to potty train just as much as them and their little body is learning to potty train. So truly, be extra kind to yourselves people! (And heck, maybe if this isn’t even your first child you’re potty training – just like everything else with babies, I’m sure each one is different and different techniques might work differently for them. So again, patience and grace.)
- This is a zero judgement zone. This is not, my girl was successful immediately and yours wasn’t – not at all. No one is the exact same but I can share what worked for us to try and help you to see if one thing we did helps your little one’s mind click. We really went off of instinct and worked together as a team (me, Bridget, and Drew. And thanks to Cara too – with patience of letting us just leave her in places while we ran to the potty).
- One of the responses I hear the most is my little one wasn’t ready so I stopped. What’s your trick? What did you do? Here’s my answer: I can’t speak to if my little one wasn’t ready because Bridget was fully ready (see examples below on how I knew she was). I fully trust a parent’s instinct to know if your little one is ready or not.
- With that said, I do believe you have to go all in. When you decide to potty train, you have to dive all in. You can’t be wishy washy with sometimes wearing diapers and letting them go and sometimes having them naked or in underwear and then expect their sweet brains to get it. That has to be confusing for their mind and you have to decide to go all in. (Bye diapers – except for sleep – if you choose to go that route instead of Pull Ups).
- At the beginning, There will be plenty of accidents. Heck, there will even be random accidents after x days of no accident days, and you will be so confused and discouraged a hot minute thinking that was behind you. Along the way, there will be kids upset they had an accident. There will even be parents upset they had an accident. (Go back to the grace part and do that.)
- Don’t expect them to just know what to do. It may just take luck the first couple times, and certainly the first time. Hints, why there is so so much sitting. So you can catch them actually doing it and praise, praise, praise, sing, dance, treats and then repeat!! The first day or so is truly luck if they will go on the potty. What I mean by that is, if you have them on the toilet long enough, they should eventually go. (Yes, the feeling is foreign to them going on an object like a toilet, and sitting patient long enough, but, they theoretically should go if their tushie is on the toilet long enough, you feel me?) I say that to say, don’t be discouraged if you can’t get them to go on it day 1. And in reverse, don’t get discouraged if you get them to go on the potty no problem the first day or two since they’re always on it, and then they aren’t anymore the longer you let them go without it. My point being, I think it’s logic for the longer they’re on the potty the first two days = the more success rate they will have. That’s luck + common sense (+ their willingness to cooperate). Not a correlation of you (mama) being successful or unsuccessful (as long as you make sure you have them sitting long enough & teaching them)!
- Don’t judge yourself for what you have to do to keep them sitting on the potty long enough those first x days. I’m talking, screen time, screen time, and more screen time. I didn’t judge myself, and I’m not judging you mama.
In a nutshell
- be consistent.
- stay positive.
- give yourself grace.
- this is a marathon, not a sprint. (even though, yes, it is that sometimes too.)
- don’t get discouraged.
- don’t give up.
- use lots of treats!
- use lots of praise!
- Follow/create a method that works for your little one.
Signs she was ready
For best results, wait until your little one shows you signs they are ready. In our case, for Bridget this meant:
- She was telling us every single time she went in her diaper. It got to the point where we were changing diapers all the time some days because she wanted it changed even if she went a drop. She then started even telling us before she would go in her diaper. I remember her saying, “Uh oh. Oh no. It’s dirty.” and she would tug at her diaper. I’d go to change her and there would be nothing in there. Then 5 minutes later, she’d repeat, I’d go to change her, and sure enough, she went. So not only was she telling us after she would go, she started telling us before she would go. She was super aware of “that feeling” and I think that was super helpful in our training journey.
- I think all of us mamas have not only had our babies go to the bathroom with us, but legit have the door closed and have your toddler open the door and come busting in saying, “Hi Mommy!” no privacy, right?! Well, the times she would barge in on me, she started to get very curious about what I was actually doing instead of just wanting to say hi to me. We have a shower next to the potty in the restroom on our main floor, and she would sit on the shower ledge and watch, wanting me to tell her what I was doing. I could see her wheels were churning in her mind wondering what I was actually doing and piecing it all together.
- In general, she reached next level with her brain’s capabilities – the way it would think, they way it would grasp information, the way she understood things and would tell me about sequences of events, the way she spoke differently nonstop in full blown sentences telling me things. Her mind upleveled and she overall reached a next level of capabilities.
Advice People Gave me
I surprisingly didn’t follow any sort of game plan whatsoever. Not only did I not read a book, I didn’t even Google. (What?! Wild, I know.) I did however throw it out to the “real mamas” on Instagram who follow along with my little family, and out of all of the questions I ever asked y’all, this topic was one with the most amount of responses I’ve ever received. (Praise moms trying to help other moms – thank you!) And while everyone said something different, there were tons of repeats and similarities I kept hearing. Here are some:
- Don’t use a small potty, just go straight to using the big toilet otherwise they will be scared of the real potty one day and only want the little one and will transition poorly.
- Don’t use a small potty, it’s gross tossing poop in the toilet.
- Only keep them naked for 3 days straight and don’t leave the house – You have to keep them naked or else they won’t feel them peeing on themselves and learn “the feeling.”
- Don’t use Pull Ups, only lightweight cotton underwear because they will think they’re just wearing a diaper and feel comfortable going in it and not learn the difference between the two. Same goes for the training pants underwear (aka thicker underwear – don’t use).
- Put them on the potty every 15/20 minutes at the beginning.
- Give treats when they go.
- Act like it’s ok when they have an accident – don’t get mad. (I did have one person tell me out of everyone, to not act like it’s OK when they have an accident because it’s not ok to have accidents – I truly heard it all).
The list goes on and on with responses I received. But these were the main culprits. What did I do? I took everyone’s input and listened, and then did what I felt was right for us and best for Bridget.
WHAT WE LIKED HAVING
- infant size potty : We LOVE this little potty. While there are so many out there on the market with cute characters to maybe be more inviting for them to sit on, my thought process was I wanted it to look as real as possible so she wouldn’t be scared to sit on the regular toilet as well and it be a seamless transition for her to the big potty- and it was! She always uses this toilet perfectly and was never scared of the real one either. Also, it has a flusher you can flush after they go that makes a real flush sound. It also has a storage compartment where we store flushable wipes. Not to mention, it’s just really cute (mom life saying toddler toilets are cute…) We keep this potty on the main floor and also was bringing it down to the basement at the beginning stages as well. We’ve even thrown it in the car with us too so it’s super light and easily transportable.
- toilet seat insert : for this we did go the character route (Hello, Minnie!) because I did want her to have more of an incentive to sit on the big toilet and like looking at her favorite characters. I also was recommended this one that I think is a great concept I think will be used down the road in our house for sure on the main floor if I’m not there to hold her on the toilet one day and/or it obviously blends in better and is more sturdy than an insert.) We currently only have the insert upstairs in her bedroom’s bathroom and use the small potty on the main floor and basement. However, these days she just lets us hold her/dangle over any toilet with no insert.
- flushable wipes : while these aren’t awesome quality like the Honest wipes we love, these are however good to go down the toilet after wiping! We store them inside the top of her little potty & also have some next to the regular toilet for her. We also use regular toilet paper now as well if we’re on the big toilet. I think these are helpful to store in the small potty for sure and then can be dumped down the toilet as well without worry of clogging it!)
- underwear (get their favorite characters!)
- training pants (Thicker underwear. Also get their favorite characters!)
- Pull Ups : We use Pull Ups for nap time. I attempted using them for overnight sleep as well, but Pull Ups don’t hold everything she releases throughout her 13 hours of straight sleep every night, so we still will put a diaper on her overnight so there is no leakage. Yes, I know overnight Pull Ups exist. But, my girl can go and can she can also sleep! I also recently saw Pull Ups just came out with a plant based release that is apparently their softest style yet! (Plus, it’s Frozen design.. win win!) I also used to throw them on her for walks around the neighborhood and car rides when I knew we weren’t near a potty. With that said, I rarely do this anymore and just have her in undies at this point for both. But, for longer car rides or outdoor activities at someone else’s house/a location I will still throw them on just in case.
- hand sanitizer
- a stool to have them wash their hands at the sink with after, teaching them you wash your hands after you go potty. Some use the stool under the toilet too. We didn’t.
What we did
(For reference, Bridget was 2 years and 3 months old when we started day 1 of potty training so you can understand the mindset I was working with. A question I feel that people want to know is how long it took to potty train. Well, I think different people have different opinions on what they consider to be potty trained. I will say that Bridget does not have any accidents while she is awake. She goes in her Pull Up/diaper when she is asleep for nap time and bedtime. She will hold it when we are running errands or she is playing until we get to a toilet. She tells me she has to go potty, I don’t have to ask her. It took her 2 weeks from the start of training to completely stop having accidents and always telling us that she had to go to the potty and hold it.)
Well, first of all I bought it all. Yup, the little potty, the toilet insert, thin cotton underwear, training pants (the thicker cotton underwear that absorbs a little more if they have an accident and you’re running to the potty – it won’t go everywhere – it gets soaked up for the most part in the undies), Pull Ups, and of course, treats! And guess what we used? All of it!! That’s truly what worked for Bridget and it’s what worked for us, and I’ll tell you how it did.
The morning we started, I had her naked on the lower half for the entire day. Not because that’s what everyone said, because we were literally sitting on the potty all day long. Seriously, the entire day felt like we just sat next to her sit on the potty. Which is why I’m SO GLAD I got the little potty because we posted up in the living room all day (and plenty of days after). I couldn’t imagine being glued to the actual bathroom all day long waiting for them to go. I already felt glued enough to the potty even when it was able to float around the house! (Also, lots of screen time was had during training. I let her watch on my phone during the beginning stages just to even encourage her to sit long enough to get the feeling + had our tv on). So zero judgement on you just have to do what you have to do to get them to stay put long enough on the toilet!
The first day I didn’t even do the “offer the potty every 15/20 minutes” because I literally had her sitting on her little potty until she would go (which at times was a long time and felt like the entire day). Then once she would go (I’ll never forget the first time she peed that morning, she looked shocked at what she did and Drew and I threw the biggest celebration ever – dance, song, treats and all! Actually, we did that every time she went though for weeks). (And ps- the first time, like I said earlier, is luck of catching it in the act. Of course they’re not going to know what to do when you first put them on the potty. That’s why you praise the heck out of it times 1000 to teach them that’s what they’re supposed to do!) But back to what I was saying, after she would go, I would either keep her naked on the bottom half or put thin regular cotton panties on her. I did not have a set rule of having to be consistent with all naked or all panties for the first day or two. Because I personally didn’t think being completely naked was a necessity. It was more for ease of not having to pull underwear down. I understand the concept that moms say they need to be naked to feel them go on themselves to know they’re going, but Bridget knew just as much with thin underwear as she did when naked that she was peeing. Once I realized she was the same both ways, I always had panties on her. Having thin cotton underwear on does not feel the same as having a huge thick diaper. Theoretically they shouldn’t think they’re going in a diaper if they feel underwear. My mom kept telling me to put Pull Ups on her while I was training her because she heard my frustration of cleaning up random full blown pee accidents on furniture – rugs – etc. during the day, but I still wouldn’t do that. While that would have been way easier on me (and way less frustrating with cleaning up accidents, I knew that putting on a Pull Up would feel too similar to a diaper and I didn’t think that would be conducive for her learning).
Day 1 she somehow only had 1 accident and it was at the very end of the day! I was so excited! (Let’s keep in mind, I truly made her sit on the potty 24/7.) But, since she understood the concept so early on, when she was in bed for her nap and bedtime, she would sit there and say on the monitor, “Mommy, I have to go pee pee potty.” and wouldn’t let herself go to sleep because she is such a pleaser, she didn’t want to have an accident. Once I would go in and reassure her she could go to sleep, it was ok, she finally got the hang of being allowed to let herself go to sleep and go in her Pull Up or diaper. (I am not trying to tackle overnight potty training yet and just want during the day. She’s such a great sleeper that I am not going to mess with that quite yet!) I made sure to purposefully take her to the bathroom with me every time I would go and explain to her that I was going potty. One time in a day following later on in the week, she had an accident while watching me go to the potty in the bathroom, so after that, I even started bringing her little potty in with me to sit across from me so we could go together and her grasp the concept. (My pediatrician said girls learn this way quicker with moms and boys learn this way quicker with dads since it’s more relatable. But I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with either parent. However, she did only do this with me.)
Day 2 we did the exact same as day 1 and she had a great day! I honestly don’t think she had any accidents day 2 from what I remember. Again, the biggest issue for us day 1 and 2 was telling her it was ok to go when she was sleeping and that she could let herself turn off her mind and rest instead of just sitting there waiting to tell us when she had to go).
Day 3 I remember feeling good enough with where she was at with understanding to let her leave the house for a break to go play with chalk in the driveway and go on a walk in the neighborhood. I put a Pull Up on her for outside. We loved finally leaving sitting on the potty 24/7 and getting out for a walk. So many say not to leave your house at all the first 3 days because you don’t want to confuse them and that they should be fully naked – but we needed to get out. And honestly, it was truly fine and good for both of us. I will say she hadn’t gone poop though since overnight day 1. She understood the concept of holding it so well that she wouldn’t let herself even go poop in her sleep for over 24 hours. That started to concern me and she finally went overnight day 3 thankfully and never held her poop again. So don’t worry if you find your little one holding #2. (Of course if it’s crazy long, talk to your doctor!) But lots don’t like to go #2 on the toilet for awhile, and some kids don’t even want to have an accident of #2. This was the category we fell into. As I write this, Bridget is months into being potty trained and she’s only had 1 poop accident ever because she always went in her sleep in her diaper. Then she started going on the potty no problem after a few weeks. Give them time with poop. In regard to accidents on day 3, I think she had like two pee accidents at the very end of the day before we started our bedtime routine, and I remember feeling discouraged because we had been doing so great that day.
Day 4 I think I finally let her stop sitting on the potty 24/7 and let us go the just constantly offering the potty method. I would ask her every 15/20 minutes if she had to go and of course the answer was always no. So I would bring her over to the potty anyway and make her sit on it for a few minutes. If she wouldn’t go (which I don’t think she did but 1 time that day when I sat her down) I would let her keep playing and just constantly kept offering it. They of course don’t grasp the concept of telling you they have to go yet or the full concept of when you sit them down that they should go immediately. I want to say this day we had like 3 accidents and I was frustrated with the ups and downs at this point because we went the first x days with zero accidents totally crushing it and then some up and down inconsistent days in regard to accidents. However, the first 3 days we were making her sit on the potty all day basically, so of course she was less apt to have accidents and more apt to once we let her go less periods of time sitting.
Day 5 – Day 13 I continued with constantly offering her the potty very regularly and making her sit on the potty. Over time she would actually go right away once I put her on the potty and she was almost always holding it in between. She understood the concept of pushing to pee to make herself go instead of it being by chance. We had plenty of random accidents here and there along the way. Then she started regularly stringing together days of zero accidents until it 100% became the norm. I’m writing this almost 3 months after our day 1 of potty training, and I can’t tell you the last time we have had an accident because it’s been that long. My point being is it just clicks one day and they just get it. BUT, I ALWAYS asked her at this stage if she had to go potty and reminded her about it frequently. Especially when she was playing. She wasn’t telling me she had to go yet. I still was asking and making her sit on the potty, offering it on a regular basis.
Day 13 + she started telling us she had to go potty! Meaning she would stop whatever she was doing and come to us and tell us she had to go instead of us asking her! This was a game changer! Once we hit this stage of potty training, she started holding it until we would get her on the potty. I’m even talking about we would be in the car and if I forgot to put a Pull Up on her and she had on underwear and she would say she had to go, she would hold it until we got home. Day 13 was a huge milestone day. She now tells us even if she’s in the pool, in the bathtub, etc. She will get out of the water and have us put her on the potty. We never ask her if she has to go anymore, we solely rely on her telling us. I will also say, once they understand the concept of potty training, they start to go less frequently because they are holding it for a more full release if that makes sense? You know how in diapers, there might be like a drop in there? The first few days of potty training you might get like a drop or two in the potty and call that a win! And the day is full of way more trips to the potty because of it. The longer into potty training you get – and once you finally hit “fully potty trained during the day” then you will notice they will make less trips to the toilet, like adults do.
FACT V. FICTION
- “They have to be naked the first x days until they learn.”
In our case this was not true. As long as you are consistent with not putting a Pull Up or diaper on them (unless they are sleeping)
- “If you use the small potty, they will be scared to use the real potty one day and not use it. It will be a tough transition.”
In our case this was not true. We loved having the small potty because we were doing so much sitting on it the first 48 hours that we loved being able to have it in the living room or bring it wherever needed. Bridget had zero problem also being put on the big potty with the training seat or even just the regular toilet with us holding her without the insert.
- “Say bye to diapers. You will never use them again.”
In our case this was not true. Not because we put them on her during the day, because we do not. However, we still use diapers for overnight sleep because Pull Ups did not cut it to hold what it needed to hold for our girl letting it rip overnight haha But no we do not use them during the day and never used them during the day once we started day 1 of training! That would be too confusing for them since they are used to being allowed to go in them.
- “Give lots of treats when they go on the potty!!”
In our case this was true! YES YES YES! Oh gosh did we spoil her with praise, cheer, and then more praise!! Everyone said to use M&Ms as the treat. Due to Bridget’s milk allergy, we couldn’t do this. Honestly, anything works!! We used fruit loops since they were also small and colorful (and packed with sugar haha) We would do such a happy dance and sing and laugh and oh did we celebrate and then give fruit loops!! Then after fruit loops, we ended up migrating to mini teddy grahams. Also a small, easy treat. Just less colorful.
- “Don’t get mad at them when they have an accident.”
In our case this was true. Of course we told her that she’s suppose to go pee pee on the potty and talked about it and showed her, etc. But getting mad at them I do not think it necessary.
- “They will be scared to go poop on the potty.”
In our case I would say maybe this is a mix of yes and no at the beginning. At the very start she felt bad going poop in her diaper overnight (and she does every night) because I truly think she was holding it and didn’t want to have an accident since she grasped the concept almost immediately. She didn’t have a poop for a little over 24 hours (I think it was 30ish) and that never ever happens. So yes, I believe she was holding it and that concerned me. But thankfully once she finally let herself go in her diaper during a nap time, she never held it again. Surprisingly throughout all of potty training, she only had 1 poop accident. Every other time she went she went on the potty or in her diaper while sleeping. So I do believe poop is different in their minds. And it took her a few weeks to go #2 on the toilet for the first time and will go #2 on the potty ever since, but way less than pee. Overall, she poops while she’s sleeping. So I do think #2 is different for them mentally.
Have other Qs?!
Message me on Instagram or drop a comment here and I’ll get back to you.
Again, every child is different! What works for them I’m sure will be different! Their timeline will be different! However, I would hope there are some overarching areas that might work for you!
Wishing you luck, patience & quick feet.
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