POTTY TRAINING PRIOR TO TWO //
I'm not exceptionally great at a lot of things... But apparently the one hidden talent I was somehow graced with... is potty training. Yep, potty training. After being hailed queen of PT by strangers at the park - I decided it was time to use this platform to possibly help someone else.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
I’m not a doctor, or a pediatrician, or a scientist. I’m not in any way being paid or affiliated with any of the links I reference (hello, @Target).
I’m just a mom – not like a regular mom, but a cool mom – sharing my own personal success with potty training. I had three kids under the age of three (the oldest is currently four) – and each were potty trained before the next one’s arrival. All three were fully potty trained prior to their 2nd birthdays (specifically at 15, 16, and 20 months of age). After a multitude of people sharing their struggles and frustrations, seeking advice, and wanting to know what worked, I decided it was time to put together my own little tutorial of my personal potty training experience and what just happened to work for us.
IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE, READ THIS
Do not wait to potty train your child until your child is “ready”. Your little one is ready – they are simply waiting on you. YOU – the parent – need to be ready! Quite frankly, I think the parents’ commitment and patience is the primary key to successful potty training!
So you have decided YOU (not your child) are ready. Please understand this training is not easy and is extremely challenging and frustrating. This process takes effort, commitment, and an abundance of patience. I didn’t leave the house for five days with my son – and neither did he! This is a challenging initiative. It’s tough and daunting, but I promise, after a week, it’ll be worth it. Just remind yourself about the cost savings in diapers!!
Mark your calendar and plan when you are going to tackle this process. Set aside the time for when you can dedicate several days to being at home and focused on potty training. (As a working mom, I used PTO for potty training.)
Provide an alternative to your toilet, sized appropriately to fit your little one – such as this plastic potty that makes a flushing noise or this toilet ring. A step stool like this one is helpful too.
Let your child pick out new underwear – perhaps some with a fun print, their favorite color, superhero or princess. (It is a struggle finding underwear in sizes smaller than 2T – we preferred these for best fit.)
Prep your house the night before. Cover furniture with towels or blankets. Have carpet or floor cleaner accessible.
Have the right attitude. Be motivated and prepared. Do not get mad or discipline your child when accidents occur.
STAGE ONE (1-2 days)
Once your little one awakes, you immediately strip their clothes and attempt the potty. They likely won’t go, and that’s okay! A few minutes later they will probably pee on the floor. Explain to them that’s not where they go, and walk them into the bathroom, sit them on the toilet, and reinforce this is where they go potty at. Your child will spend the entire day naked, and this process repeats itself until your little one understands the concept of going potty in the bathroom. This stage is a chaotic and tiring mess of your child peeing and pooing all over your house and you cleaning up after them. A few tips to help through the hardest stage…
Set a timer – take them to the potty every 30-45 minutes.
Mimic your behavior – when you go potty, they go potty.
Continuously ask if they have to go potty.
Funnel their fluids – start heavy after waking up, tamper off prior to nap and bed time.
Pay attention to their actions – sometimes they won’t communicate. They could simply walk to the bathroom, freeze their movements, hide themselves, clinch up, etc.. Each of mine did something different when they knew they had to go (or had just went), but didn’t understand the concept quite yet.
Identify patterns in their routine – How soon after waking up does your little one potty? What is the duration between fluids and potty? How frequently does little one poop?
STAGE TWO (1-2 days)
Your child has advanced to underwear. Hopefully they understand they need to use the potty in the bathroom, however, is likely still struggling with timing. Accidents will still happen, which is okay. They are learning and adapting this new concept. Continue enhancing and refining the process you established with them during stage one. When your child has a better understanding on timing – entering the bathroom prior to tinkling - you are ready for the next stage.
STAGE THREE (1-2 days)
Your child is ready to be fully dressed! Continue redirecting and reinforcing where the potty is. They should be able to communicate or show signs when they must go, or more importantly, you should be able to identify when they need to potty. Upon completing this stage, you feel comfortable leaving the home and have an out-of-house game plan prepared. When ready to venture out, here’s a few tips…
Be consistent – meet with daycare, school, or caregiver to inform them of your child’s specific process. Provide them with a timer or the same toilet alternative you are using at home to make the transition the easiest for your little one.
Take your child potty before leaving the house and upon entering your destination.
Be accident prepared - have extra pants, undies, socks, shoes, and plastic bags on hand. I recommend covering the bottom of the car seat with a plastic bag.
Don’t be afraid to pop a squat - little ones aren’t going to be able to “hold it” so don’t be afraid to let them go when they need to go, even if that means the far end of the Target parking lot. (I face my child the same direction I’m standing, and lift behind the knees, on the bottom of their thighs, to create a seated position for them.) Wipes and hand sanitizer are easily accessible in the pocket of the vehicle door.
During the potty-training stage, after our children would fall asleep, we would put a pull-up on them – but only over a pair of underwear! We would remove the pull-up as soon as they woke up. We used this same method (undies on first, then pull-ups) in the early stages of training for specific situations when going to the restroom wasn’t an immediate option, such as longer car rides or a wedding.
To help with nighttime potty training, we would take our little one potty prior to bedtime, an hour or two after they fell asleep, and again an hour or two prior to their normal wake up time. Identifying their routine patterns was extremely helpful for nighttime training.
OTHER TIPS & TRICKS
It is YOUR job to potty train your child. Grandma isn’t going to do it, and neither is your daycare.
Go cold turkey! Don’t try it for a few hours and cave. Don’t try it for two days and revert. This only causes confusion and children don’t understand. When you decide to start the potty-training process, stay strong and power through it!
Children can’t tell the difference between a diaper and a pull-up – don’t give in to this transitional nonsense. If they are pull-up ready, they are underwear ready. (We used pull-ups as a preventative measure and these instances were very limited.)
Only reward your child when they go pee or poo vs rewarding them for sitting on the toilet and trying. Limit food rewards such as candy and snacks.
Use positive reinforcement. We got extremely excited when they went - we made up a little impromptu potty song and paraded around the house, which they loved.
Stay clam turning the process. Don’t get mad or discouraged when accidents happen. They will shit on your floor. The floor will be fine. The last thing you want to happen is the reverse affects of your little one not going.
Use sign language for potty. Since our children were potty trained before they were verbal, this was a huge differentiator for us.
Once your little one can stand, start changing them in the bathroom and do so standing up. This will help when introducing the toilet concept.
Use your resources! The internet is overflowing with concepts and methods. There’s books and blogs available. Ask other parents what worked for them.
Do what works for you! Everyone’s potty training journey will be different.
Even within my own three children – the communication, timing, and process varied amongst them. Each child is different and is going to adapt independently of each other. I hope find something from our process that could potentially help you and your little one – and if nothing else, you find encouragement along the way!
Good luck & happy potty training!
P.S. If you would like to ask questions – please feel free to send me a private message. I’ll do my best to help you out as much as I can!