Do you feel nervous about starting potty training, but know it’s time?
Are all your friends’ kids potty trained except yours? (That’s how I was feeling).
I thought for awhile whether or not I wanted to write this post. Mostly because I look at potty training similarly to sleep schedules and breastfeeding. You can do all the right things, and no matter what, your child is a person who has a will and opinions of his or her own. And every kid has their own timeline for all these things, so it’s a lot of pressure for both parents and kids to try to accomplish a milestone exactly when all their peers are.
It’s all about finding the right balance, right?
I want to preface this post by saying – do your best, and most of all, pay close attention to the signs your child is giving you. Some of these may not work for you the same ways they did for us. We tried potty training Shep right around the 2 year 6 month mark and honestly he probably did fine but his first real accident totally freaked me out. I think Shep was more ready than I was. We had just really settled in Ohio and the idea of not being able to be out and about stressed me out. So, we waited another month and Shep was showing all the readiness signs — hating having anything in his diaper, having dry diapers, hiding when he went potty and talking about the potty in general. He was ready, so we decided to go for it during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
I’d say it went relatively well. It took a good week until I felt like he really grasped it, and another two weeks until I felt confident saying my son was potty trained. We have not yet done nighttime potty training, but I was going to wait until he was 3. To sum it up, Shep potty trained around 2 years 7 months.
Toddler Potty Training Tips
- Read up and mentally prepare yourself. I liked Oh Crap Potty Training, and the author has a great blog with tons more info. (Bookmark the poop chapter!)
- Schedule it. Pick three days on your calendar and don’t schedule anything. You will want to, but you’ll regret it if you do.
- Get your spouse on board. You’ll want a break once you are in the thick of it and if you have another child (or two), you definitely want to be sure you have some help so you can devote time to your potty-training toddler. Your spouse also has to be prepared to carry through any times your not at home with your kids so you don’t run into any inconsistencies.
- Give your toddler a heads up. Start talking to your child about potty training and make the first day SUPER exciting.
- Find a potty or two. Buy a few different ones and let your child pick what is most comfortable for them. This is the Mickey Mouse potty that worked for Shep (it makes a hilarious sound when you “flush” it) and we kept this in the room wherever he was playing during potty training. Shep also liked the Munchkin Grip Potty Seat, which was good to have on hand to take between the first and second floor so we didn’t always have to take the whole potty with us each time.
- Treats. Decide whether or not you are going to do treats, and be consistent. I will say the book strongly advises against them and gives good reasons for doing so, but we did end up using treats. I knew the pros/cons and decided it was helpful to use them especially when it came time for #2.
- Ditch clothes and diapers. Get comfortable with your toddler being in no clothes. Shep prefered to have some blankets with him and liked a little coverage (he’s so modest!) We used an older blanket and he carried it around with him.
- Note what works with your toddler. Talk to them about feelings, sensations as they go potty. Example is: Wow, I could tell that you really had to pee. Doesn’t it feel better after you go? They can then equate going potty with feeling comfortable! I also saw Shep really connected when I told him how happy it made mommy and daddy when he went potty. He kept saying, “Mommy, it make you happy?”
- Poop. There is a reason that this topic has its own chapter in the book I recommended. It can get tricky, but overall in the first few days don’t worry too much about #2 right away. I’m just going to say read up on that chapter because there are a lot of different hurdles to jump through and issues some kids can have with going #2 in the potty. For Shep, this clicked about day 3/4 for him.
- Stock up on cleaner. Accidents are going to happen. I’m not normally a Lysol wipes person, but for potty training I stocked up.
- Celebrate victories like crazy! I got really, really excited every single time he went potty. Even if he did it just for the celebration. That’s OK. High-fives, praise, dancing, we did it all. I was proud of him and wanted him to know how great it was he was learning this new skill.
- Don’t get too upset about setbacks or accidents. See number 9 again. They will happen – don’t try potty training in a room with carpet or expensive rugs. You will regret it immediately. Just keep on going and stay positive even when you think that it’s totally not working.
- After the first week, don’t forget to prompt. I read in the book how common it is for regressions, some because your child is no longer getting prompted every 30 minutes and as parents we get relaxed ourselves.
- Potty training friendly pants. This was a rookie mistake on my part. It’s helpful for them to have elastic waistbands so they can handle pulling their pants up and down themselves. I bought a few of these in different colors and Shep loves the cute joggers from Old Navy plus he says he can “pull them up all by myself!”
- Give yourself lots of time to go anywhere. Potty training is not the time to stick to a strict schedule or try to get anywhere fast. Asking your child to go potty before or after you go somewhere will go a long way in avoiding accidents. Sometimes (especially when they have to do #2) you may find yourself hanging out in the bathroom with your toddler longer than you ever wanted. Get comfortable my friend.
Our Biggest Lesson
What surprised me most about the potty training process? How it helped us bond as a family. And most of all – what a huge accomplishment it was. Shep was extremely proud of himself and really takes pride in being able to go potty on his own. There’s nothing better than seeing your child accomplish something they worked so hard for.
What was the tip that helped most as you potty trained your kiddo?