It may sound crazy but I have no regrets. I potty trained our 22-month-old in one weekend, with zero accidents by day three. I am not a heath care professional nor am I an “expert” on this topic. I also don’t want this to come off as some kind of gimmick I’m trying to sell you on. I’m just a mom that wanted potty training to end before it even started. I dreaded even thinking about potty training. Ideally, I could skip all the mess, snap my fingers and it would be done. However, I ended up being beyond surprised with how fast we were able to jump this hurdle. I want it to be a fast jump for you too!
Here is what worked for us:
Consistency and Lifestyle
The most common piece of advice I got before starting this venture was, “make sure your child ready”. I do agree, this is important but don’t believe it is the end-all, be-all. I think an even larger factor is making sure the parents are ready! The beginning can be brutal and if you aren’t able to give it 100% at that time, it will only leave you both frustrated. That brings us to another large factor, lifestyle. I am a stay at home mom during the week, so being able to hunker down and stay in for a couple days while going through the initial, intense “boot camp” so to speak, was probably easier for me than parents that work outside of the home. There’s no right or wrong way, or even a right or wrong time to start, but keeping these factors in mind will ultimately help make the process go much smoother.
We started putting our daughter on a toddler potty on and off when she was about fifteen months old. Sometimes she would go, sometimes she wouldn’t. It just got her used to it. I am so glad we did this because she hated sitting on that thing the first couple times. I don’t know what it was but she would cry and cry! I kept doing it though and she got used to it over time. Eventually it became part of our pre-bath time routine. We would also explain to her when we were using the potty so she could make the correlation between the toddler potty and regular toilet.
Why We Did It
Diaper changing battles. And I mean battles! She never minded her diaper being changed before but something shifted a little after 18 months and it had been awful ever since. Kicking, screaming, it was the worst. I thought it was a phase she would grow out of but she didn’t and I was done. So done! At this age, she had really just started showing some sass and started defying us a little bit more and more, testing her limits- totally normal toddler behavior. With that being said, I think with her being under two, she was young enough to not fight us as much. Looking back now, I think for her personality, waiting until closer to three would have been a war. Each kid is different but I really think this worked to our advantage. She didn’t fight the whole process much, if at all. She was at the age we could easily redirect with positive words of encouragement and excitement. A year later now and she fights me on almost everything, haha!
When We Did It
I was ready to get the “training” over with ASAP! However, we had a vacation coming up within a few weeks so I decided to wait until after we got back. A three and a half hour car ride each way plus long days on the beach without nearby bathrooms was just something I did not want to deal with. I waited until we got home and started the following day.
The first thing I will say about this aggressive approach is that it is not necessarily easy. However, it is simple and it does work! For all of day one and day two, my child ran around our house naked, with no diaper on other than during nap and bedtime. Two words: Pee. Everywhere. I will be completely honest, she peed all over my hardwood floors the first two days. We have two toddler potties at our house and during those first couple days, they posted right in the middle of all the action and in front of the TV. I pulled up our rugs and covered our furniture with layers of towels. The TV, along with toys and books acted as distractions during potty time. This is the most tedious part, but most important part–put your child on the potty for five minutes, every twenty minutes. Even doing this, she was still peeing on the floor some, but it continued to get better, a little bit at a time.
I will be completely honest, by the end of the second day, after two days of cleaning up pee and putting her on the potty every twenty minutes, I had almost given up. She was getting a little better at going on the potty but was still having accidents and/or not making it to the potty in time. I just wasn’t sure beating myself up with such an aggressive approach was worth it. I would think to myself, maybe she isn’t ready? Maybe she is too young? The morning of day three came and something just clicked! I got her up and put her on the potty and was ecstatic that she peed almost immediately. For the first two hours of that day, I continued to put her on the potty about every twenty minutes and she went almost every single time. Then, I started spacing it out a little more throughout the day- thirty minutes, forty-five minutes, etc. By the end of day three, she had successfully used the potty all day with zero accidents! She even woke up from her three hour nap completely dry. So what I’m saying is, don’t give up! I was so close to throwing in the towel and now I am so thankful I didn’t! I kept her in a diaper or pull-up strictly during nap and bed time. From almost everything I’ve read, holding it throughout the night is something that comes later, around age three or even much older for some kids.
The reward is very important and must be consistent! Every time she went pee on the potty she got one M&M and one sticker of her choice that she got to pick out and two of each for poop. I’ll be honest, she had rarely had candy or many sweets at this point so M&Ms were like a form of currency around here. By day two, I started adding underwear to our reward system. I had bought her a pack of underwear before we had left for vacation and started showing them to her and telling her they were for when she could pee and poop on the potty and not in her diaper. She was so excited! What made the underwear so exciting? They were Trolls undies, haha! She is obsessed with Poppy and still gets excited to put on her “Poppy undies” as she calls them, every day! I would say this helped a lot! Pick out some underwear they will love and will be even more excited to wear. I starting putting the undies on her, knowing she would most likely pee in them because she realized fairly quickly she did not like them being wet and that going on the potty keeps them dry.
-Try to keep them as happy on the potty as possible! The last thing I wanted was for her to start resenting the toilet. We set up baskets of books and small toys next to each potty to help keep her entertained.
-Daniel Tiger’s “Prince Wednesday Goes To The Potty” episode was a lifesaver! I have it recorded on my DVR and showed it to her before going on vacation and it got her very excited. We played that thing on repeat while she on the potty the first day! A year later and she still sings their potty song at least once a day, haha!
–Training Underwear are a great alternative to pull-ups! To each their own but I really did not want to take the pull-up route, at least for day time. Anyone who knows me, knows I am the frugal queen and I refused to add something else to my weekly shopping list, just like diapers. I also was afraid the idea of pull-ups could be confusing for her and slow down her potty training success. These training underwear are like normal clothe undies but are made with thick padding to help catch accidents!
-Worried about an accident in the car? I kept a pack of Dog Training Pads in my car and put one on her car seat to avoid messing up the seat. She has yet to have an accident in the car but it’s nice peace of mind and one less thing to stress about on the go.
-Our Travel Potty has been a life (and undies) saver! This has honestly been the most helpful product during this entre process and we still use it all the time. It folds up super compact and trash bags go right over it for easy disposal! Most days that we were out and about in the early phase, I had two toddlers in tow so running to the bathroom in the middle of a shopping trip with a cart full of stuff is not always ideal! I keep the travel potty in the trunk of my SUV and would put her on it right before went into the store and as soon as we got back out to the car. Total game changer! It has also been great for so many outdoor activities! Outdoor family reunions, birthday parties and cook-outs, having that thing right in my trunk has been a breeze and has helped us avoid porty-potties, too!
-Lastly and most importantly, have grace for you and your little! Mommin’ aint easy and this can be one of the toughest mommin’ hurdles to jump. Don’t be discouraged if your little one takes a little longer to catch on, it will all come in time! You are doing a amazing job and knowing that and owning it with rub off on your toddler too. A happy mom is the best mom!