Let me start by saying every mom has to do what’s best for their kid. I 100% believe that! The expression, ‘go with your gut’ has never been more true than when I became a parent. Some of potty training for us was just what we felt like we should do for Scarlett, no advice taken. Some of it was directly against advice we were given. I actually deliberately did not seek advice; I went with what I thought would work from what I knew of my kid. (On that note, feel free to disregard anything I say! It’s what worked for us, but it could be completely different for you and your kiddo!😂)
After using a book for Scarlett’s sleep training and for potty training, I’m a firm believer in having a tangible resource. I read probably 20+ Pinterest articles on potty training back when she was around 18 months and none truly helped like a book does. With sleep training, I researched and picked what I wanted to use. With potty training, I borrowed two books from my sister, loving one and eventually using it, and reading but ignoring the other. For the most part, we went with the advice of Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Clowacki. Much of the outline we use is based on her guidance, and I highly encourage actually getting the book if you’re interested in going this route. It explains the reasoning behind why things are done the way they are, which is what I need when choosing what to do.
Things to Keep in Mind While Potty Training
- Your kid is learning something knew – that’s awesome! And also hard. Try to have the biggest dose of patience in the process.
- Withhold from fussing when accidents happen. Just encouragingly guide them to what they should do next time.
- Give yourself patience. You’re learning a new normal too. If they don’t get it right away, that’s not on you. That’s ok.
- Go with your gut – I can’t say that enough. You know your child best, so consider them when planning it. Do what you think is truly best, be it waiting, beginning, timing, rewarding, etc.
- Be ready to commit. If you want them to commit to it, you need to, too. It might be a schedule adjustment or inconvenience sometimes to wait on a potty trip or have to find one everywhere you go, but so be it!
An Overview of Our Background with Potty Training
Our pediatrician recommended the prime age to potty train be between 18-24 months, with 20-22 being what he felt was best. We know that is definitely younger than when most kids get potty trained. He hasn’t led us astray yet, so we put some weight into what he said. Again, it’s what works best for each child’s situation. I stay home with Scarlett and she’s my only kid right now – that gives me a direct advantage.
Around Scarlett’s 18 month mark, her cousin Lincoln, who was around 2.5 years old, was potty trained. He took to it SO easily and was awesome! Because he was interested in it and they spend lots of time together, Brett and I decided to play off of that. We did what a lot of articles suggest not to do and casually introduced Scarlett to the potty🤷🏼♀️. Note: We also began using pull-ups at this time to help get used to pulling up and pushing down pants. She was just barely getting too big for size 3 diapers and the size 2t-3t pull-ups fit her great. I’m also pretty sure they’re cheaper!!
For the past 4 months, we have kept somewhat of a routine of when she would attempt the potty – in the mornings, before and after nap, and before bed. She would sometimes ask to go on her own, maybe a handful of times a week. We used the potty solely for that purpose, so that she definitely associated it with the need to pee. We were hopeful that this would help her when we truly decided to commit, but we were also worried that our lax attitude toward it as a necessity would hinder her.
Around 20-21 months, we started with rewards. I had read both positive and negative outlooks on them. Our pediatrician said go for it, so we did. We chose to give her the no sugar added superfruit gummies. She gets two every time she goes pee, so maybe a pack a day. We also give her gummie vitamins, and just sub one of these in once a day. This definitely was a little motivation and I think helped during the potty training as well. She also got a sticker on a chart in the beginning.
When starting the actual training, I knew for a fact that I wouldn’t be timing her and placing her on the potty every set amount of time. I know my kid – Scarlett is wayyyyy to independent and resistant for that to be successful. Again, trust your gut. It would turn every potty time into a power battle. We went for casual prompting, with this basic outline. We also decided to wait to start nap and nighttime training until she was a little older, so that hopefully it comes naturally to her.
Please note, we also decided to potty train during quarantine. That meant we wouldn’t be leaving our house at all for quite some time, so we didn’t get to test her in any “outings” off the bat.
Our Potty Training Method
- The week before, we talked up that we would be saying “bye-bye” to diapers on Saturday.
- First thing Saturday Morning, we sat on potty, then changed her into a regular shirt with no bottoms and had her help us gather all the diapers in our house to store for nap time and nighttimes.
- We then relocated to hard wood floors to make clean up easier on us, and placed her main potty in our living room in a corner. (There are no bathrooms relatively close to that room.)
- We forgo’ed her high chair while potty training so that if she did need to go, she could easily get up from her kiddy table and walk to the potty.
- We started by casually saying things like “If you need to peepee, there’s the potty!” or “Don’t forget, when you feel like you need to go peepee, go to the potty.” or even asking her “What do you do if you feel the need to peepee?” We repeated words often and were very specific – feel, peepee, potty, shoowee (poopy). We wanted to make sure she understood she would feel it, and by asking her what to do, we were sure she understood.
- We prompted a lot in the beginning and laid off more as we trusted her to know what to do.
- We stayed bottomless for 2 days. When we had no accident for 24 hours, I placed her in pants but commando.
- Occasionally, instead of pants, I would put her in big girl underwear as bottoms. (The book is adamantly against this. Scarlett wanted to wear them, and we trusted her to know what to do if she felt the need to pee.)
- The rest of the week, we casually prompted as needed, wore pants, underwear, and sometimes both, and increasingly spent more time outside so as to have her adjust to holding it/vocalizing when she needed to potty.
- Around day 5-6, we stopped giving stickers for every potty. Gummies also became an as asked for reward.
- At her request, around day 5, we started placing her on the “big potty” as well, to prepare her for whenever we’d be leaving the house.
How potty training actually went for us
Please note, we’re still working on poop. Scarlett tends to go during her diaper at naptime and we’re working to adjust that! I’ll update this when that’s been achieved as well!
Day 1: The morning started out has we expected: with accidents. The first accident she had, we reminded her than peepee has to go in the potty, and to let us know if she feels like she needs to pee. She got a little upset at the accident, but we moved on quickly. We continued with our casual prompting, possibly too much at first.
We had two more accidents that morning, but for both of them she immediately said “uh oh” and either while peeing or after, walked directly over to her potty to sit. We considered this a success/improvement because she was making the connection. We applauded her, and also reminded her to try to get to the potty first when you get that feeling.
Naptime came, and we followed our routine of sitting in the potty following naptime. Thus began the afternoon of super proud parents- Scarlett went in the potty 5 times that afternoon, 2 of which to empty her bladder before bed. We occasionally prompted her, and sometimes she went as a direct result of that. She also just randomly sat down when she had the urge. We were amazed! She had no accidents. I think both of us were a bit more relaxed about it that afternoon. We were stressed about getting fluid in her, in reminding her every so often. To be honest, it was like we didn’t even need to much.
Day 2: Day 2 started the same as day 1, with an accident. She knew it right away, and immediately sat on the potty after. She also had two almost accidents that morning, where she’d realize she was about to start, stop and hold it, and then walk to the potty to go. I was really proud of her ability to hold it like that! She then had no accidents that afternoon and ended up going potty 7 times!
One thing I was worried about was her habit of going poop in her diaper during nap. She’s in the habit of that, and in diapers I could try to encourage her to go before going down for the nap. I now encourage her to go in the potty, but that’s a very new sensation for her and is a work in progress.
Day 3-7: After her initial potty on day 3, I placed her in pants and each day was much of the same. She had no true accidents, but would about once every other day realize she had to go pee and was about to have an accident and hurry over to the potty. She was able to be away from our house for about 2 hours at a time, and always held it until returning to potty. She still has yet to poop in the potty, but we’re tackling that day by day!
I’ll update this more as we continue in this process, but just to help any other mamas out that are seeking advice and wanting to jump on this right now, I wanted to document what we had done so far!